What The Right Should Learn From Bob Costas
Let me say upfront I think the “logic” of Costa’s and Whitlock’s position is flawed to say the least (Ace nailed it yesterday). What I’m not however is outraged that Costas took the opportunity to say it. He’s a liberal and NBC is a liberal network. It’s what they do.Complaining about them mixing sports/entertainment and politics is about as useful as complaining about the weather.
With that said, there’s a lesson here for the right, something we’ve been talking about since the dismal failure of Romney on election day…culture matters.
If you think it’s wrong to talk about a political issue when engaging a cultural activity like a football game you are conceding a lot of the battlefield to liberals. Sure it would be nice if liberals would leave their idiotic politics at the door but they don’t and they never will. Instead of either retreating from these spaces or sitting quietly by while the left has total possession of the field, we are going to have to engage in these spaces too.
The challenge will be to do so in an effective way. This is an area where I think the right has a communications problem. We tend to talk to persuadable types or low information people as if it is manifestly obvious they should agree with us. Obviously it’s not.
Take guns for instance. If you start off talking about the 2nd Amendment or gun ownership being the last against tyranny, you’re going to lose most people right off the bat. Arguments like that are too conceptual and usually too extreme for people who aren’t highly motivated one way or another. If you want to protect gun rights, tell everyone you know about Alex The Chick’s story.
Until we effectively connect our policy preferences to the concrete reality of people’s lives, we’re going to be in trouble.
I loathe how liberals substitute emotion for reasoning but the fact is conservatives rely far too much on concepts and intellectual arguments when trying to talk to non-conservatives. The reality is people relate more to stories, to other people and yes, to emotions when trying to make up their mind about something.
Think of pop-culture. What’s a more effective way to reach people? A documentary that hammers home a point of view with facts and figures or a blockbuster action film with a clear message woven into the subtext?
Costas didn’t care about the setting or the facts. He had a point of view and was willing to play off emotion to advance his goals. Whether or not he was effective in doing so is questionable, the lesson remains…politics and culture are inseparable. We need to accept that and find more ways to make our arguments part of the culture.