Al Gore's Brilliant Strategy Lesson

For once, Al Gore gives a warning we should all heed.

Thankfully, we don't hear as much from former Vice President, Nobel laureate, producer of false documentaries, and Inventor of the Internet Al Gore as once we did.  He's still around though, and last week he came up with a doozy:

I remember, again going back to my early years in the South, when the Civil Rights revolution was unfolding, there were two things that really made an impression on me.  My generation watched Bull Connor turning the hose on civil rights demonstrators and we went, ‘Whoa! How gross and evil is that?’ My generation asked old people, ‘Explain to me again why it is okay to discriminate against people because their skin color is different?’ And when they couldn’t really answer that question with integrity, the change really started.

Secondly, back to this phrase ‘win the conversation.’  There came a time when friends or people you work with or people you were in clubs with — you’re much younger than me so you didn’t have to go through this personally — but there came a time when racist comments would come up in the course of the conversation and in years past they were just natural. Then there came a time when people would say, ‘Hey, man why do you talk that way, I mean that is wrong. I don’t go for that so don’t talk that way around me. I just don’t believe that.’ That happened in millions of conversations and slowly the conversation was won.

We have to win the conversation on climate.  [emphasis added]

A few commentators on the right exploded with fury that Al Gore was calling them racists.  No doubt, like virtually all elected Democrats, he thinks conservatives are racists; but that's not what he actually said.

In fact, Gore put his finger on a vitally important point that's even more important for conservatives to understand than for his intended audience of extreme leftist environmental alarmists:

You can pass all the laws you please, but if the people don't agree with you, you're going to lose sooner or later.  Anyone with a political view must, in fact, win the conversation to achieve lasting victory.

Anyone have a mint?

How A Right Is Won

Set aside your natural and well-founded distrust of Al Gore and listen carefully to his very apt comparison.

In the Jim Crow South, depiction of blacks as inferior was so commonplace as to be an inherent part of the culture, like water being wet and the sky being blue.  Read old books or watch movies from that era and stereotypes pour from page and screen: that of the shifty, uneducated Negro who wants only to dance and sing (at best) or rape and steal (at worst).

It wasn't often that a work was about how inferior black Americans were any more than you'd write a whole book arguing that the sky is blue.  Racism was an assumed fact of life, not subject to serious question.

Then, in the 60s, it started being seriously questioned just as Gore described:

My generation asked old people, ‘Explain to me again why it is okay to discriminate against people because their skin color is different?’ And when they couldn’t really answer that question with integrity, the change really started.

Why, exactly, was it OK to, institutionally and automatically, treat people differently for no other reason than the color of their skin?  The only way this could be justified would be if every single black person were demonstrably inferior to every single white person.

That might have been superficially true when blacks were not permitted to learn to read, but by the 60s, it was transparently false.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr may have had his foibles but he was no dummy.  By his day, there was a century of skilled, educated, successful blacks standing as living proof of the wrongness of automatic bias.

Once the question was raised and no sensible answer came back, young people realized that their racist elders were just plain mistaken.  Many Bull Connors of the day never repented of their bigotry, but they died out and were replaced by others of different beliefs.

Today, the worm has almost completely turned.  Instead of automatic bias being a baked-in part of American culture, we instead have the politically-correct assumption of absolute equivalence and equality in every way, a belief so strong as to be impervious to even the most damning evidence to the contrary.

What happened?  The concept of civil rights equality "won the conversation" over institutionalized racism, then the concept of affirmative action and preferential reverse racism "won the conversation" over the concept of equality.  We passed over the balance point, and our modern errors on the other side are just as firmly entrenched as was the bigotry of old.

Conversational Victories in Both Directions

The same happens all across the spectrum.  Everyone in the 1940s save a few nutcase feminists found the concept of abortion horrifying.  The youth of the free-love 1960s found unwanted babies an inconvenience; the churches of the day were unprepared or unable to make the moral argument of the humanity of the unborn.  Hearing no solid argument against, abortion rights won the conversation and led to Roe v Wade.

The American religious community finally woke up and started fighting back, adding such salient points to the national conversation as "Abortion stops a beating heart" and The Silent Scream.  There are signs that the pro-life position is winning back the conversation; more young people are disturbed by abortion than their Baby Boomer elders.

The Tea Party provides another example.  In 2008, was anyone particularly worried about the deficit?  Not really, just the usual fiscal conservatives and beancounters; the spending spree continued as it has for decades, gleefully promoted by both parties.

Today the conversation has entirely changed: all serious discussion is on spending cuts, their magnitude, and their reality.  Conservatives have not yet "won the conversation" about the budget but at least we're in the conversation and holding our own.

Half The Battle is Just Showing Up

How did this come to pass?  Because one single guy, Rick Santelli, finally had enough and went on a rant on live TV.  People standing behind him heard the rant, realized they agreed, and started to applaud.

All of a sudden, Americans all across the country realized that they were not alone - it wasn't just their lonely selves that worried about our incontinent government.  There were actually quite a lot of people who felt the same way.  As they joined into Tea Parties, their fiscally conservative view fought its way into the conversation.

So many conservatives are afraid every day - afraid to say "No, I don't think government should help the homeless and single mothers if they're that way because they're drunk, drugged up and lazy."

Afraid to say, "No, prisons shouldn't have air conditioning and weightlifting, it is supposed to be unpleasant."

Afraid to say, "It is absolutely no business of the government whom I hire, who I want to live near, or what light bulb I buy."

Afraid to say, "Sure, that Mexican illegal immigrant may be a perfectly decent person who just wants a better life for his family, but he voluntarily chose to break our laws by sneaking across the border and should be immediately sent back where he belongs."

Afraid to say, "No, I refuse to recycle.  It wastes my valuable time, spreads disease, and with few exceptions, causes more pollution and waste than starting fresh."

And we'll find that, the vast majority of the time, everyone else agrees but was afraid to be the first say so.  This is the duty of Scragged.

Occasionally, yes, conservative views are in the minority: it would seem that a majority of Americans now feel that homosexuality and cohabitation have the same right to official acknowledgement as heterosexual marriage and traditional families, despite abundant evidence of the harm postmodern family life does to children.  The left will "win the conversation" only when we let them by dropping out of the dialog as closet conservatives did for so many years.

There is, of course, due prudence: you don't really want to get into a political argument with your boss on company time.  The alert will also note that most Scragged authors do not post under their given names.  Thanks to Al Gore's amazing invention, we don't have to; we can participate in the conversation, hopefully with ever-louder and more persuasive voices.

A gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth.  Far from insulting climate change deniers, Al Gore has committed the ultimate gaffe: he has revealed to all with ears to hear exactly how the Left has come to control the commanding heights of our culture and society.  They won the conversation - and we let them.

Now we merely need to do what they did, contesting the conversation at every promising opportunity, challenging the unspoken but false assumptions, demanding proof where we know there is no proof to be had.

It worked for them.  It'll work even better for us, because unlike the totalitarian statist Left, conservatism, and with it liberty, has truth on its side.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

Neato article. I like it.

Living where I do, I've had plenty of opportunity to hear, study, and analyze the progressive tactics, and talking points. Most of it is strawman, and man in the middle arguments.

How these moonbats do it is simple. They take a lazy argument and reducio ad absurdum it, devoid of any classical critical analysis. (therefore you get their arguments hinging on VFMFL, and "ain't nothin my/your fault"...its all meant to entice people with the easy way, so they get elected)

The folly is simple, which Conservatives, and (to a lesser degree) Libertarians that we are just too polite. We are/were raised to not interrupt a person while they are talking , we were raised to answer questions...truthfully, under a lens of commonsense...with the understanding that there are rules to our government. We know its wrong to ask someone to pay more than what we are willing to pay ourselves.

We need to stop living in a self imposed Gulag of expression and argument for fear of this War of ideas. (and make no mistake about it, this is just it, listen to what they say... and we need to act accordingly)..and then when we do, do that, we can have people understand that...

There exists a gaping canyon which separates that which is TRULY enlightened and that which is bullshit. All the echoing reverberating from within that canyon, is nothing more than the resounding flatulence of a lazy entitled mindset, and they are using that lazy mindset...for their manipulators to take power...for sake of power. (after all if you cannot earn your wealth, then legislate it)

September 3, 2011 11:29 AM

Good point. My grandma raised kids during the depression. She never rode the rain because she was told the black pullman guys would rape her.

September 5, 2011 4:04 PM

ebtomfool is correct. We need to be in their face confronting their points with simple plain talk. We need to appeal to people's common sense with questions applicable to them. Such as the one that we, conservatives, are using now, "When we run low on money at home we tear up the credit cards". Everyone understands that. Questions like that will bring Joe Six Pack to vote the bums out once he figures out that the current policies are taking money out of his pockets. Once he makes that connection the liberals are history as they have no workable ideas for creating wealth which creates jobs.

September 5, 2011 8:37 PM

Indeed he is. This attitude extends to all questions and areas of debate.

I, for example, won't bother trying to wiggle out of my actual position by saying "well, I'm not anti-immigrant, but..." We are afraid of being labeled racist.

I am, in fact, anti-immigrant. There's really no reason at all to take in anyone from anywhere, given the state the United States is in. There's no reason to import poverty and pathology from outside our borders. I think we ought to shoot a few who are creeping across our borders, since they constitute an invasion force; and we ought to deport the rest. These positions make me a culturist, not a racist. I think that Western, Judeo-Christian culture is generally superior to most if not all others, and I think the record of history is fairly clear on this.

Now, what we need is to learn to say such things proudly and publicly.

September 5, 2011 8:46 PM

As brother John said, "proudly and publicly" with easy to understand reasons like he gave, " I think that Western, Judeo-Christian culture is generally superior to most if not all others, and I think the record of history is fairly clear on this." Well stated John.

September 5, 2011 9:14 PM

John is right - can't win the debate if we don't even show up.

September 6, 2011 5:26 PM
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