To fund or defund Obamacare? That is the question. If you’ve listened to conservative talk radio lately, you know that there is an interesting divide among Republicans. One faction wants to withhold the funding necessary for President Obama’s key piece of legislation, while the other wants no part of such a plan. Certain hosts have essentially said that having a disagreement over strategy is now tantamount to a betrayal of conservative principles. Men and women who are generally friendly to conservative causes have been called “French conservatives” and fake conservatives, and the question becomes: “Why?” What good does it do to attack someone’s character because that person disagrees over a strategy designed to bring about the same end? The kind of tone-deaf rhetoric on display by some very smart men on the right side of the political fence is exactly why over 90% of the black vote consistently goes to Democrats.
Note the following:
- When people make decisions, they are almost always doing so because they are running towards a pleasurable outcome or away from the prospect of pain.
Once you have determined which mindset a person or a collective group of people are acting in accordance with, it is then possible to craft a message that makes them more receptive to your point of view. Right now, elected Republicans who disagree with the defunding route do so largely because they fear they wouldn’t be able to convincingly explain the philosophical reasons to the American public. By extension, they also fear the political pain that would follow.
The American people generally know that Obamacare is on course to become, in many ways, a “train wreck” (to borrow a phrase from Democratic Senator from Montana, Max Baucus). However, they also know that the bill was passed by the House and the Senate and signed into law by the president. They know that it was ruled on by the Supreme Court and found to be Constitutional. At this point, not funding Obamacare will in all likelihood be perceived by most voters as an underhanded way for Republicans to get what they couldn’t get through the Democratic process or the courts. That might not be fair, but the world isn’t always fair — and it’s really not fair if your political leaders are a bunch of bumblers who care more about holding on to power than the well-being of the American people.
America is $17 trillion in debt. It has officially gone over the “fiscal cliff,” even if the average citizen hasn’t opened his/her eyes to the pavement fast-approaching. The reality is that we can not fund Obamacare because we’re broke. In fact, we’re the brokest nation in the history of the world. That aside, does anyone believe that House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can connect the dots for the American people? It seems pretty obvious that Messrs. Boehner and McConnell do not even believe in themselves, so why should the rest of us?
Right now, there are many conservatives who are having their credentials challenged simply because they don’t want to win the battle but lose the war. If conservatives treat their “friends” like this, why should voters who are skittish about them think of ever changing their political allegiance? The answer is simple: they shouldn’t.
As I mentioned earlier, people either run towards pleasure or away from pain. Since black Americans in the aggregate almost universally support Democrats and the liberal world view, there is probably some truth in the notion that they collectively own a specific fear or desire a specific pleasure. It is my assertion that American blacks generally view public policy within the context of slavery and other historical prejudices perpetrated upon their ancestors. Will ‘policy x’ be more likely to duplicate the painful experiences of the past or not? Will ‘policy y’ be more or less likely to strengthen the hand held by America’s racists in life’s poker tournament? Collectively, they are acting from a fear-based perspective, which in the long term I think is detrimental (but useful to know when trying to understand how best to reach them on election day).
When conservatives talk about the Founding Fathers, it doesn’t matter what The Declaration of Independence stands for our how the Constitution is one of the most beautiful documents ever written — because both conjure up our nation’s sordid past. When conservatives talk about dismantling the federal government, many black Americans think about how instrumental the federal government was for them during the civil rights era. And so, the conservative has two options:
- Convincingly demonstrate why such a fear-based model of thought actually makes prosperity less likely.
- Come up with a fear-based public policy messaging. I prefer option ‘a’ to option ‘b’.
Conservatism is a hard sell for many people who live in fear because of its emphasis on the individual. Freedom can be a scary thing because when you are free to succeed on your own you also must also accept responsibility for your failures. The siren song of liberalism promises prosperity through the confiscation of the wealth of others because they have wronged us in some way. It sells the snake oil of safety and security in the collective for the small, small price of your individuality.
Do you see yourself as a unique individual and spiritual being first and foremost, or are you black? Are you a unique individual and spiritual being, or are you defined by your sexuality? Are you a unique individual and spiritual being, or are you the static social class known only as “the poor” or “the middle class”? These are the questions modern conservatives must ask voters who don’t see eye-to-eye with them, and at this time in history too many are failing with friends and foes alike.