Personal communication and connections was the key message of a panel on Preaching Beyond the Choir: Growing the Ranks in the Free Market Movement at an annual conference for conservative bloggers called Right Online this weekend.
Conservative activists Anita Moncrief, Mike Berrera, and Teri Christoph explained on the panel, which was moderated by Jen Stefano, the need for conservatives to change the narrative on the economy through our actions if we wanted to bring independent voters over to our side, which will be especially important in the upcoming presidential election.
“The only reason we don’t have rioting in the streets right now is because we have a black man in the White House,” Moncrief postulated, adding that if conservatives aren’t able to get their message across to minorities, we could have mayhem come November.
To stress that the Right needs to get out into communities to make personal connections, Moncrief pointed out that “most instances of what people call racism aren’t racism, they’re miscommunication…we’ve been intentionally separated.”
A common theme of the panel was the importance of simply asking people what they think.
ACORN, for example, received $10 a month in membership dues. Why are people paying these dues? Because ACORN came to their doors and asked them what they thought. People are willing to speak and listen to those who care about them.
Beretta had a similar story about how George W. Bush came so close to winning the Hispanic vote, despite it typically being a Democratic stronghold. Bush had poor Spanish skills, but he tried. The Hispanic community appreciated the effort and was willing to listen.
Another key message was that focusing on the idea of community is a better way to connect with people than talking politics. Christoph said that changing minds comes from “your everyday lives. Women speaking to other women is the best way to bring them into the fold…we have to be happy warriors.” If conservatives can reach people on a personal level, on specific issues, we can help people to understand conservative values to reach out effectively.
Outreach of any kind involves some initial skepticism, so conservatives have to be willing to put in the time. We must also be patient with negative responses. Remember that people are watching. They will expect us to behave with dignity as we are attacked by the Left, which is never fun, but we have to get out there to be seen in order to draw attention to our cause. As Berrera said, “If you aren’t in the room, the democrats will eat you up.”
The narrative will be shaped by the Left if we let them, but only if we let them.