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Arguing with the Left: We Are Doing It Wrong!

Posted: September 14, 2014 at 10:00 am   /   by

If you have ever tried arguing with a liberal, leftist or progressive, at some point you have inevitably come away frustrated by your apparent inability to “win” an argument, despite proving conclusively the other side is objectively wrong.  The subject doesn’t matter, it could be the failure of Obama’s foreign policy, the IRS targeting scandal, tax policy, (lack of) Global Warming, or “helping” the poor.  There in fact is a literal parade of liberal/leftist social policies and issues that have been unequivocal, abject failures, yet no matter how many facts and figures you can marshal, your argument falls flat, and your opponent remains completely un-swayed.  Have you ever wondered why this is?

Best-selling thriller-author Robert Bidinotto offers an explanation:

One of the most valuable insights I discovered in recent years is how Narratives trump everything else — including what most of us would call concern for “practical results.”

For example, consider liberalism. Have decades upon decades of liberal policy failures deterred liberals from being liberals? Have the trillions of dollars blown on welfare-state programs since the “New Deal” and the “War on Poverty” made a damned bit of difference in curing poverty? And has that failure convinced “progressives” that there is something fundamentally wrong in their worldview and approach? Have the horrendous historical consequences of appeasement policies stopped today’s politicians from appeasing international thugs and terrorists? No?

Then why does anyone assume that liberals gauge the value of their worldview by the standard of its PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCES?

Practical consequences are ALWAYS trumped by the advancement and protection of one’s core Narrative: the fairy tale that gives one’s life meaning, coherence, and moral justification.

When I linked last week to Simon Sinek’s seminal 18-minute talk, “Start With WHY,” it became obvious to me that he was saying exactly the same thing that I have been saying, in different language, with a different emphasis.

Sinek points out that customers are not attracted to a company primarily because of the merits of its products (i.e., the results of its policies); nor are voters attracted to politicians primarily because of the merits of their policy prescriptions and “eight point plans” (i.e., the goals of their policies). They are attracted because — as he puts it — “People don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it.”

People do things — e.g., vote for you, buy your products, donate to your cause — that prove, affirm, and reinforce what they ALREADY BELIEVE. They act to conform to and confirm their deep-rooted beliefs.

In other words: They act in conformance to their CORE NARRATIVE. Doing that makes them feel good about themselves. And they would far rather feel good about themselves than actually achieve any of their stated practical objectives. It’s not about the objectives at all. It’s about THEM.

Consider some other examples.

  • That’s why the leaders and officials in entire communities in Britain turned a blind eye to, or even rationalized, the mass rapes of thousands of young white girls: because they were wedded to a “multiculturalist” worldview, and — above all — didn’t want to think of themselves as “racists” or “anti-Muslim bigots.” THAT — affirmation of their Narrative-driven self-images — meant far more to them than the fates of thousands of young girls.
  • That’s why ObamaCare can meet absolutely NONE of its promised practical objectives (universal coverage; lower premiums; cost controls; “keep your doctor”; “keep your existing policy”; etc., etc.) — yet NO LIBERAL is calling for its abolition. It was never ABOUT those practical consequences, and still isn’t. It’s about protecting a Narrative about the role of government in our lives.
  • That’s why temperature records can show that there has been NO, nada, zero, zip “global warming” over the past two decades; yet the diehard true believers in “manmade climate change” continue to blame everything — from Ebola outbreaks to sinkholes to allergies to campus rapes (REALLY!) — on “global warming” that IS NOT OCCURRING. In doing this, they are really professing how absolutely they are wedded to the Narrative (as old as the ancient “myth of the Golden Age,” and the Eden myth in Genesis) that Evil Man is destroying the pristine natural environment. That Narrative IS their notion of “reality”; thus, any inconvenient truths that clash with it are simply ignored or explained away.
  • And that’s why Obama golfs and fundraises while the world goes to hell, and while ominous threats against America mount. His moral/political Narrative is rooted in the belief that America was founded in the evil of slavery; that its capitalist system is immoral; that its Constitution only cements all of that evil in place; that America, therefore, has been a dark force internationally; and thus, that his primary job is to “fundamentally transform” this country and paralyze its ability to act (i.e., cause trouble) internationally.

The terrible CONSEQUENCES of pursuing this Narrative do not matter to him in the least. He measures his “success” by a completely different calculus: merely by the intensity of his commitment to “fundamentally transform” America. As long as he keeps undoing the Constitution and the free market system, he believes he’s on the “right path.” And that’s why, while his entire agenda collapses around him in practical terms, he remains smugly arrogant and condescending toward all critics.

His diehard supporters and leftist followers are the same way: not in the least contrite, no matter what disasters they visit upon the nation. They take zero responsibility for those disasters. Their Narrative exonerates them, and twists facts to blame it all on their enemies.

That is why they can watch, in passive, blithe bemusement, while Russia starts to gobble up territory in surrounding nations; while China continues its massive navy-building binge; while ISIS maintains a safe haven in Syria while proclaiming its intentions to launch horrific attacks on the American homeland; while Iran, a hotbed of militant Islam, builds its nuclear weapons; while nutcase North Korea continues to expand its nuclear arsenal; while millions of individuals — undoubtedly including foreign terrorists — pour across our borders into America without so much as a criminal record check, and are aided and abetted by the Regime in being scattered all over America, then subsidized.

It’s all about, ONLY about, reinforcing and implementing the Narrative. Nothing else — NOTHING, no matter how bad — matters.

I believe Mr. Bidinotto is on to something here.  I have often remarked how liberals/leftists/progressives are generally impervious to facts, all they seem able to do is regurgitate the accepted talking-points on the issue at hand, then blithely go forth and pull the handle for the guy with the (D) next to his name on election day.  It had never occurred to me to think about this in terms of how the left sees themselves, and their “relationship” with the narrative or “story” they want so desperately to be true.  So desperately in fact they will completely ignore or disregard reality itself if it gets in the way of their belief in the story.  The narrative truly does trump all.  And, it’s something we on the right lack.  It is why we have such a hard time winning at the polls, why despite the complete and continuing failure of their policies and issues, so many people continue to blindly support liberal-democrats.  It explains why so many like to repeat the calumnious propaganda about people on the right all being greedy, racist homophobic war-mongers who hate children and want old people to live in the street and eat cat food, all despite the complete lack of even the tiniest bit of first hand proof or evidence supporting these stereotypes.  It’s all part of the narrative.

I believe this phenomenon is also related to the most frequent criticism of the Republicans going into the mid-term election in November: they have no plan.  You can hear this repeated over and over again in the conservative punditry: the Republicans have no plan, they are giving us no reason to vote for them.  Of course this may not matter in terms of the outcome this election, the Democrats having failed so abysmally and being so unpopular, simply being “the other guy” may be a perfectly viable strategy, this time.  But what about the long game?  It’s not that we on the right don’t have a plan, it’s that we don’t have a narrative.

I am not saying we should stop arguing with the left, pointing out their failures, or exposing the utterly fatal flaws in their policies and issues.  There will always be a place for debate, and it remains important, but I think at this point it’s clear this is not enough.  We need a counter-narrative, a story, about why we are right, and more importantly, why they are wrong.  And we need it now.

Greg Conterio

Gregory Conterio grew-up in the middle of the cornfields of central Illinois, spent 12 years living in the People’s Republic of Los Angeles, and another 15 in Miami, Florida, giving him a first-hand perspective on the rich variability of American culture.  Although formally educated in zoology, he saw opportunity in the then emerging Information technology field 25 years ago, and has remained there ever since, although he denies being an early pioneer in the now fashionable trend of pursuing useless college degrees.  Having an entrepreneurial background, Gregory has long been a staunch advocate of free markets and minimal government intrusion into our lives.  He currently runs a small IT consulting firm based in South Florida, where he resides with his wife of 25 years, his daughter, three Whippets, and an unknown but growing number of chickens, having discovered belatedly the rural lifestyle is not so bad after all.


  1. rrowe1961 says:

    Excellent !

  2. dleeper47 says:

    Great article, Mr. Conterio … right on the money. 
    Narratives and slogans do win elections, and I wish the GOP would hire some real marketing experts to help with both. The GOP has the stronger hand, and I’d wish they’d learn to play it better.
    Whether or not Newt Gingrich was a viable candidate (I thought he was), his pitches during the 2011-12 primary season sounded very good to me. I especially liked his “Which do you want? The party of paychecks or the party of food stamps?”, “Vote for paychecks, not food stamps” Or something like that.

  3. RobertBidinotto says:

    Greg, thanks much for quoting me extensively and citing my commentary.
    To those who think this is merely a matter of marketing and p.r….you are definitely missing the point. It’s not about having “narratives” (small “n”): little stories framed about various issues. What unites and empowers the left is an overarching core Narrative (capital “N”): a story about man’s place in the universe, and the place of individuals in society. This fairy tale takes the form of a “morality play” of good and evil. The widespread acceptance of this morality play is what caused the defeat of Mitt Romney last time, despite the fact that he had ALL the facts on his side. What he didn’t have was a counter-Narrative: a morality play not just about HIMSELF and OBAMA, but about the world at large. He lacked what another Narrative-deprived GOP loser, George H.W. Bush, called “the vision thing.”
    Understanding this allowed me to predict the defeat of Romney months in advance of the election.
    Let me clarify what I mean with three citations to essays I wrote. If you read these, you’ll get a much clearer idea of what it will take to beat the left, finally and decisively.
    1. “The Narratives That Guide Our Lives”:
    2. “Election 2012 and the Clash of Narratives”:

    3. “The Republican Crackup — and the Path Forward”

    Thanks again, Greg.

    1. RobertBidinotto dleeper47 @Gregory Conterio rrowe1961 seanearlyaug 
      So what should our morality play/Narrative be? What is it?
      For quite some time now, I have had the clearest sense that we need to define the other side’s evil very clearly. I’ve written about it numerous times: We always begin every debate by ceding the left the moral high ground that they “mean well.” Meanwhile, they strap us to a chair and punch us with a moral cudgel mercilessly. I have long been opposed to this. My contention has been that it does not matter what a person says his intentions are—after more than a century of evidence that modern statism causes failure at best and oppression and democide at worst, it is morally wrong to continue to pursue it. Moreover, nearly all the practices of statism involve violations of human rights, and equal claim thereto, and are thus morally criminal. People who commit morally criminal acts are moral criminals. I have been of the strong belief that part of our narrative approach ought to be to get off of moral defense and go on offense. Stop scrambling to rebut the left’s constant attack on our moral decency and start attacking them for their moral failures. “It’s cute the way you try to project your serial moral failures upon me, Mr. lefty debate partner, when in fact you and your ideology are the moral criminals, and here’s why . . . ”
      Robert, you have given me additional ammunition:
      “They act in conformance
      to their CORE NARRATIVE. Doing that makes them feel good about
      themselves. And they would far rather feel good about themselves than
      actually achieve any of their stated practical objectives. It’s not
      about the objectives at all. It’s about THEM.”
      In other words, they don’t even really mean well! Their primary motivation is not doing good, it’s feeling good. This makes me feel even more justified in going on a withering moral attack against them at every turn. The louder they protest that they only have the best interests of the people at heart, the more I will point out that Poll Pot, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Mao all claimed the same thing.
      Now some will argue that this approach is over the top, but I am going to need to hear a REALLY convincing argument as to why we shouldn’t use it—why we should continue to sit there, strapped to a chair, getting beaten and never fight back.
      But, of course, this just covers the “evil” side of the good/evil morality play. I would love to hear y’all’s thoughts about the good side. I have my own ideas, but I’d like to hear yours.
      Exit point that just occurred to me . . . Defining the other side as evil (which, as I say, we should be doing to the left 24/7/365) can, in the mind of the observer, go a long way to defining one’s own side as good. Think of it—does the left even need to explain themselves much? A lot of times, they just define us as evil and leave that hanging out there, and the observer fills in the blank that they (the left) must, by contrast, be good. I am not saying that that should be our only strategy, but I belief that defining the left as evil is an important component for that reason too. Simply put, it makes the job of defining the good side of the morality play a little bit easier. Thoughts?

    2. dleeper47 says:

      Robert – I read your material above, and it is first-rate. Your call for  “a worldview of creative, self-responsible individualism” is exactly right — for the long-haul it is *the* narrative to shoot for. And it’s the path to self-respect rather than dependency and servitude.
      But we’re also facing the short-term problem that half of the electorate doesn’t even know we’re having an election in November(!). So with all due respect, I submit that the current problem is ALL about marketing and messaging. 
      If I were Reince Priebus, I’d hire the ballsiest marketing people I could find, pay them well, double it as a bonus if we win. Instead, I’ll bet he’s got the same-old 2012 consultants in there assuring him they know how to “win the independents”, and consequently, the elections. Lather, rinse, repeat.
      Real professionals will come up with something better, but I’d message that voters must choose between a future of paychecks or foodstamps. And for those who can tolerate a little evidence, I’d illustrate it with the rise in foodstamp participation and the decline in labor force participation since 2008. Both are truly dramatic.

  4. seanearlyaug says:

    It is conservatives as well. Really, The narrative trumps the failure
    of trickle down, of warmongering neocons, of consequences violation of
    sovereignty of other nations, of economic failure after failure, etc.
    has much to say about this (conservative narrative messing with real
    world politics and goals to the point of not being realistic about what
    can be done) in his latest book.

    1. popparocco says:

      seanearlyaug that’s leftist nonsense. Conservatives get results, look at Reagan’s economic and foreign policies. Look at Scott Walker’s success in WI, or Perry’s policies which have made TX an economic juggernaut. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for a leftist to give me a single example of one of their policies working.

      1. popparocco seanearlyaug I think we can state the case even more strongly: I am still waiting for someone to tell me something, anything, that the left isn’t wrong about.

    2. GregoryConterio says:

      seanearlyaug Nonsense.  You apparently did not understand the point at all.  “Trickle-down” is not a narrative. (and all objective evidence shows it to have been a resounding success, not a failure!) “Warmongering” as you put it, is entirely imaginary and calumnious when you try to hang it on conservatives, and also is not a narrative.  “Neocons” are LIBERALS who have adopted an interventionist world view, and is not a “narrative.”
      Conservatives do not HAVE a unifying narrative.  You, as an apparent progressive should be happy about this while it lasts, because it places conservatives at an electoral disadvantage.

      1. GregoryConterio seanearlyaug So let’s get a unifying narrative!

  5. RobertBidinotto says:

    I wonder how many people commenting here have bothered to actually read the three pieces I linked to, below, or to grasp what I really meant. I see little evidence of it in the remarks here.
    If you think a short-term fix, consisting of more little “narratives” about election-year politics, will make a damned bit of difference, then you won’t have long to realize how wrong you are. I think the GOP will fail utterly in capitalizing on their inherent advantages this election cycle. If they take the Senate, it will be by the skin of their teeth. Why?
    Because they also are always thinking in the short-term, about winning the next election. And they rarely do, because they never bother to think of the long-term. They’re just too, too busy; and time is always, always too short to worry about such things….
    I’ve heard this same message and watched this same behavior for over fifty years now. It never changes.
    To the hammer, everything looks like a nail. For the politically obsessed, everything looks like politics — even when the real problem, as Andrew Breitbart repeatedly noted, is cultural. “Politics is downstream from culture,” he said. I bet few here have a clue as to what he meant by that. Besides, politics is everyone’s “comfort zone.” It’s much, much easier and, frankly, more FUN to simply bash Nancy Pelosi’s latest gaffe, or react with outrage about things like Benghazi or the IRS scandal. Reacting with indignation is emotionally self-satisfying.
    Creating and promoting a new NARRATIVE is hard work.
    And look what you’re doing here. One lefty shows up here, and you REACT. You spend all your time telling him why he’s wrong…when my whole damned POINT is that that is pointless. You won’t convince him. He’s operating from a Narrative about reality that is NOT YOURS.
    You need a counter-Narrative to REPLACE his — not arguments to REFUTE his.
    I explain all about this in my three linked essays. And until you “get it” — really GET IT — you will be doing this same stuff twenty years from now…if we still have enough freedom for you even to protest.

    1. GregoryConterio says:

      RobertBidinotto Robert, I have read your other essays.  I for one think you are exactly correct.  Conceptually, the narrative approach not only resonates with me, it consistently offers cause, effect and explanation about things which have stymied me for decades now.  I have some ideas, at least preliminarily on what might be done, especially long term.  IMHO, this is far too important NOT to explore and pursue.  The question is, are you in?  Your work in fiction creating a counter-narrative is inspiring, but are you up for something different, something more?

      1. RobertBidinotto says:

        GregoryConterio Greg, I’m not sure I know what you mean by “more.” In my life, I’ve done the following:
        * Served as a campaign manager in a state rep race
        * Been a primary citizen sponsor of a major state ballot initiative
        * Served as a leader in a number of grassroots activist political groups
        * Worked for a number of candidates, doing everything from writing, to calling voters, to going door-to-door with literature
        * Written political op-eds and articles in major newspapers
        * Written major investigations in Reader’s Digest — one of which (it is generally acknowledged) decisively impacted a presidential election (1988)
        * Written nonfiction books on the criminal justice system
        * Written essays, articles, and reviews for magazines and major online sites (American Spectator, PJ Media, Breitbart, et al.)
        * Written hundreds and hundreds of blog posts on political topics
        * Given speeches on national controversies on campuses, before industry conventions (as a keynote speaker), to civic organizations, and to libertarian and Tea Party groups (including serving as a moderator of a CPAC panel).
        Been there, done that, Greg. What “more” could anyone ask?
        Looking back, I regard almost all of that frenetic, lifelong activity as having ZERO enduring impact. Why? Because almost none of it got to the heart of the issue, addressing the “Narrative Wars.”
        One that did — my July 1988 Reader’s Digest article that told the STORY of the Massachusetts prison furlough program, humanizing the victims and heroes, exposing the villains, and framing it as a Morality Play — sunk the presidential aspirations of Michael Dukakis. It was, if I may say so, terrific, dramatic storytelling that put the liberal excuse-making worldview under public scrutiny.
        If I had only learned the broader lessons of that success. If only others did, too.
        Well, I’ve learned those lessons now. Believe me, what you call “more” is much, much LESS than needs to be done — and I speak from a lifetime of first-hand experience.

        1. RobertBidinotto GregoryConterio So much of this sounds like AnyStreet literature, doesn’t it, Greg? I am not going to take the time to dig it all up now, but the notion that our side focuses on election cycles and a few pet issues while the left is busy moving the entire country in their direction—in every institution, in every arena of life, 24-7-365, never tiring or relenting—was a constant theme in nearly everything I wrote.

          1. GregoryConterio says:

            WesternFreePress RobertBidinotto GregoryConterio Yes, it does.  Not to mention many discussions about how the ideology of the left could be neatly summed-up in an Elevator Speech, while ours was…?  I have spent years trying to come up with a way to articulate the ideology of the right.  What I really needed all this time was just a story…!

          2. GregoryConterio RobertBidinotto 
            For me, the story keeps getting simpler and clearer. It’s all about human rights. It’s all about human liberty. Most of human history has been an exercise in the notion that some men get to rule over other men. I believe that time is coming to an end. I believe mankind is waking up to the notion that not only are we better off when we are free, but that it is our birthright to be so.
            No more masters. All is permissible save that which impinges directly upon the legitimate moral prerogatives of another.
            And the left is all about violating all of that.

    2. RobertBidinotto I would like to hear your response to my long-ish comment/question below . . .

      1. You too, GregoryConterio

  6. GoodToast says:

    The right had a narrative…

    The cause
    The conviction that their cause was superior
    The desire to do what is morally right even if it’s not easy
    The belief that the common good is better than individual profit
    The desire to improve one’s situation
    The freedom to improve
    The admirable ability to persevere when encountering opposition
    Embracing the underdog status instead of entitlement status
    The willingness to work harder than the next person
    The ability to unite fierce individuality for a common goal

    The right also had a Book…

    These concepts are Biblical.  It’s not easy to balance a desire for individual freedom with the desire to work for the common good before your own.  The Bible is the only belief system and instruction manual in the world that succeeds in teaching it.
    As America has departed from their knowledge of the Bible and commitment to living by it, so has their narrative disappeared.  The ability to gain it again seems unlikely as the hearts of Americans need to be changed.  Morality cannot be legislated.  People need to want to make the right choices.  Until we recognize the narrative problem is as much spiritual as anything else, there will be no new narrative.

    1. GoodToast RobertBidinotto GregoryConterio 
      I certainly believe that the minarchist paradise that we libertarians crave could not work in the absence of very Burkean concepts such as accumulated human wisdom, tradition, community, etc. Needless to say, Judeo-Christian values undergird that system. Perhaps not everyone need to be religious in order to live by them, but overall, recognition of their importance is essential. If we are not to be governed, then we must govern ourselves. Only a decent people can properly do so.
      That being said, I am always cautious when I hear “The belief that the common good is better than individual profit.” I recognize that you introduced a caveat thereto, but still, I would much prefer to hear “the belief that voluntary work for the common good is a necessary component of a free and healthy society” or something like that. “Individual profit,” perhaps even somewhat counter-intuitively, has been at the heart of creating more good than harm. (See Adam Smith, etc. on this, as I am sure you already have :-)

    2. RobertBidinotto says:


      A list of abstract principles and “desires” is NOT what I mean by a “Narrative.”
      A Narrative is a specific STORY.
      For example: The Sermon on the Mount is NOT a “Narrative.” It is a list of principles. By contrast, the New Testament stories about the life of Jesus ARE a “Narrative.”  The story of Jesus embodies a lot of principles, but it is a STORY — not a list of abstract “biblical concepts.”
      For the umpteenth time: I am arguing for the missing STORY. And the fact that so many of you are having trouble “getting it,” proves my point about how the political right is clueless in this regard. Most do not think in terms of stories at all, but in terms of abstract concepts — as your examples perfectly demonstrate.
      I wish I had more time to explain this, but if my three linked pieces in this thread aren’t sufficient to help people “get it,” then I’m afraid they just will NEVER get it.

      1. GoodToast says:

        RobertBidinotto GoodToast I understand your point.  This is not exactly the forum to write the narrative.  The narrative used to be the Bible.  The specific STORIES used to be the life of Jesus, and to a lesser extent how God dealt with the Israelites in the Old Testament.  The Bible is full of narratives for every concept.

        The right needs to quit being knocked silly in the mass media arena.  They need a “Rocky” movie of their own or even a “Prince of Egypt.”  The challenge lies in that a majority of people don’t know or want to know the original narrative, so a palatable alternative has to be fabricated.

        Know any Christian filmmakers and screenwriters?

        1. RobertBidinotto says:

          I wholeheartedly agree that this is not the place to concoct such a Narrative. My simpler goal here is to point out, first, that we NEED one — desperately. And I see that you get that.
          Whether the Bible and specifically Christian films are what we need, is an argument for another day. (I respectfully disagree with you on that.) But right now, I’ll take it as a symbol of enormous progress if “the right” even begins to start thinking in terms of storytelling. By default, we’ve let our opponents monopolize that culturally decisive field.
          Western civilization DOES have an implicit Narrative to be told. And many stories can advance and romanticize specific elements of it. But that won’t happen until and unless we begin to focus on the importance of that task, and encouraging a new generation of writers, filmmakers, songwriters, and artists who share those values.

          1. RobertBidinotto GoodToast GregoryConterio Are you aware of the efforts underway at

          2. RobertBidinotto says:

            WesternFreePress RobertBidinotto GoodToast GregoryConterio 
            I was not. Obviously, I applaud any efforts to promote good values in the arts. Unless I’m missing something, these folks are focusing on painting and photography, right? That has inherent limitations in telling a STORY. I’m referring to the crying need for good narrative art that embodies, as well as promulgates, certain values. And the values ought to be part of an overarching “Narrative” about “heroic individualism.”
            I think the “Liberty Island” people are a bit closer to the mark:

          3. RobertBidinotto GoodToast GregoryConterio 
            Yes, Liberatchik is focused primarily on the visual/fine arts. Frances and I started it because that is an area of artistic expression in which conservatives and libertarians are underrepresented. Indeed, unlike the broader entertainment media, where conservatives have at least begun to realize that they need to try to compete (viz the rise of conservative Hollywood groups and websites, etc.), no one on our side was even thinking about the fine arts. We decided that was a front of the culture war on which we need to engage. We took note, for example, of the Futurists in early 20th century Italy and the important role they played in moving that country’s politics (not is a good direction, unfortunately, but the lesson is still salient).

            I was not telling you about Liberatchik as an example of a place where conservatives are creating the narratives of which you are speaking; I was telling you about it because I thought you would be interested. (Though, that said, there are a few authors and poets who are also part of Liberatchik, and you would be welcomed there too.)

            You should know . . . I personally “get” what you are saying. My own belief is that we on the right have been underrepresented in MOST areas. For years I wrote about the left’s approach—contending on every front, in every arena of society, in every institution, 24/7/365 . . . working not to win at election time or on a few issues, but rather to pull the whole country their direction. They fight everywhere. They inject leftism into the interstitial spaces of everything we do, everything we are.It is their religion, and their passion play is all about us at all times.

            I was usually talking about this as a way to point out the conservative need to engage in a much broader kind of ground-level, community-based activism (since that was my focus for several years), but the broader point remains the same—the gulf between their approach and ours is chasmic.
            In more recent years, I have heavily hit the theme that conservatives and libertarians need to stop making consequentialist arguments and start making moral ones. We need to stop defending ourselves and protesting that “our ideas are better and here’s why” and start pitching things on a moral and emotional ground. 
            That is not 100% what you are saying regarding the heroic narrative, but it is of a piece with the same overall broadening of strategy. Conservatives need to open up operations on a variety of new fronts, not the least of which is the one you’re proposing.
            I have been giving thought as to how it can inform my own work as well.

          4. RobertBidinotto says:

            WesternFreePress GoodToast GregoryConterio 

            I hear you. And I think that’s all to the good. Certainly it is “of a piece” with my call for storytelling focus, since the “moral and emotional” elements you are talking about can be and are embedded in stories.
            As for setting up isolated little enclaves in the culture — symbolic “Liberty Islands” — well, that’s fine as far as establishing solidarity and rallying the troops, so to speak. But the real work is stepping outside these little enclaves and islands, and bringing our work out into the mainstream culture. I look at how powerfully films like “Dirty Harry” and “Death Wish” affected people’s perceptions of crime and the liberal-dominated justice system in the early 1970s. THAT is what we need to see more of in the narrative arts: in novels, films, plays, and video/role-playing games.

          5. RobertBidinotto WesternFreePress GoodToast GregoryConterio 
            Yep. It’s a tough process, though. I worked in the entertainment industry when I lived in Los Angeles, and saw firsthand the hurdles to achieving the mainstreaming of which you speak. I continue to be a member of organizations of Hollywood conservatives, and I can tell you that there is a long way to go. Gathering together in groups is a first step and a necessary one, though it certainly needs to go beyond that. But getting to that beyond place is very hard without connections, access, and /or funding. 
            Unless you have some extra access of which I am unaware, in which case . . .
            I do have a pilot, story bible, and full series concept for a television show about a hardscrabble Montana ranching family and the surprising lengths they go to to overcome adversity. Ensemble cast, great family values (without being saccharine at all . . .). Perfect for what you’re talking about, and it’s ready to go! If you have a way of helping get it into the mainstream, I will make sure you get attached. Let me know!

          6. RobertBidinotto says:

            WesternFreePress RobertBidinotto GoodToast GregoryConterio
            That sounds like a promising storyline, for sure!
            Why don’t you contact my H’wood entertainment attorney, Kevin Koloff? He’s a great guy, and he’s got a lot of credentials and contacts. I don’t know if he is in the “shopping around” business for a TV series, but who knows?

          7. RobertBidinotto GoodToast GregoryConterio Great idea; will do; thx! :-)

  7. warddorrity says:

    Why even try to argue with those who lack the price of admission to an honest debate?  These leftist sociopaths will not enjoy the consequences of having their own rules of engagement turned against them.

  8. infowarrior says:

    Funny how the Left are so often right.

    1. warddorrity says:

      infowarrior  Do tell. Never mind that the pedigree of your ideas is the proximate cause of over 260 million human beings slaughtered by their own governments over the past 150 years.  Not to mention the hundreds of millions more who lived in the despair of slavery, impoverishment and misery as a direct result of leftist totalitarian ideals.

      If that’s “right,” then I’d much rather be wrong.

      1. warddorrity infowarrior Thank you, Warddorrity, for saving me the trouble. I usually use the figure of 110 million, but I guess you are including all the war dead, rather than just the democide. 
        And to the left-winger who protests that they are separate from this slaughter, the answer is this: Only by degree. Only by the national context and how much it would allow. In essence, statism is statism. Whether it’s dictators, central committees and apparachiks, or urban elites and experts, it’s all the same philosophy—that some men should rule over other men . . . for their own good.

        1. warddorrity says:

          WesternFreePress warddorrity infowarrior  Thanks for the response. Actually, the 260 million dead were all unarmed, civilian non-combatants.  The casualties of actual war pale by comparison.  The late, great Prof. R. J. Rummel made an in-depth tally of these dead.  See his website for details.  This figure also does not include the slaughters perpetrated by the so-called “religion of peace” over the last 1400 years of its existence.

          1. warddorrity infowarrior Yes, the religion of peace kills more humans on average in three months than are said to have been killed in all 500 years of the Inquisition!

  9. Soldier4110 says:

    Since moral values no longer hold sway, the task of convincing liberals
    is even more difficult. There is no basis for appeal to honor, honesty,

  10. RobertBidinotto says:

    Again and again, people in the thread keep arguing about the “right” abstract concepts. It is almost as if many are incapable of knowing what a STORY is.
    Example: You want to argue about the evil of tyranny and violations of rights. I want to see us coming up with stories like Zorro and “Braveheart.”
    Example: You hate environmentalism, and try to argue all the facts and statistics. Meanwhile, the left comes out with STORIES like “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Pocahantas,” “Avatar,” “Ferngully,” “The China Syndrome,” “Erin Brockovich,” “WALL-E,” “Children of Men,” “There Will Be Blood,” and on, and on, and on, and on. Your abstract concepts, statistics, and logic are trying to overcome this tsunami of STORIES that — to hundreds of millions of people — have created a subconscious REALITY.
    And do you know the granddaddy source of all those stories?
    The myth of the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden, in Genesis. Every single element of the environmentalist Narrative is in the Eden story.
    Guess where else?
    In the Greek myths of Icarus — where the question for “god-like” knowledge leads to a literal Fall.
    In the transcultural ancient myths of a the lost “Golden Age” — which parallel the Eden story.
    All of these ancient STORIES convey embedded abstract ideas, principles, and moral lessons. The environmental movement is merely cashing in on this Western cultural legacy.
    And you think mere arguments, based on global temperature charts and statistics, are going to beat THAT?
    This is what I mean by the need for a radical new “counter-Narrative” that I call “Heroic American Individualism” — one that romanticizes and celebrates the triumph of individual self-realization and personal achievement. We need STORIES that embody this, that can counter and replace all the propaganda stories from the other side.
    Here is an example:
    Do you get it?

    1. ehm9201 says:

      Is ‘Atlas Shrugged” an example of the kind of story you are talking about?

      1. RobertBidinotto says:

        ehm9201 RobertBidinotto
        It is emphatically one. Rand understood explicitly what I’m talking about, as she made clear in her nonfiction book “The Romantic Manifesto.” And she built her own fiction on the principles of heroic American individualism — which, I believe, is the reason for its enduring impact and appeal. Her novel “The Fountainhead” is different, and in many respects more intimate and personal, example of romanticizing individualism.
        I like to think that my two thrillers, in their own more modest ways, do the same thing. “HUNTER” takes on liberal corruption of the criminal justice system, and the entire liberal war on self-responsibility. “BAD DEEDS,” the sequel, takes on environmentalism and the environmentalist movement.
        But first and foremost, I strived to make both novels compelling and captivating ENTERTAINMENT, filled with action, thrills, romance, and suspense. If I didn’t do that, then they would have failed in the “persuasion” department. I can’t emphasize this strongly enough: We shouldn’t be creating ham-handed, clunky propaganda vehicles, in which the characters are simply “premises with feet.” Above all, the stories we create (or recommend to others) must stand on their own as good entertainment. If they pass that threshold, then — and only then — will audiences find their messages persuasive.

        1. dleeper47 says:

          RobertBidinotto ehm9201 
          “Atlas Shrugged” was a popular book to read in my high school days … early 1960’s … for English class. I only cared about math & science back then, so I didn’t read it until around 2011 (!), but it was magnificent.
          The D’Anconia (sp?) “money speech” was and still is my favorite passage, and it scratched every wish I had had for a powerful rejoinder to self-righteous “limousine liberals”. 
          I started reading the money speech for the first time late in the evening when my eyes were already starting to droop, but a couple paragraphs into it I came back full awake again and read it all — parts of it 2 or three times. I wanted to run & tell everyone about it, but I knew I’d sound like a 19-year-old who thought he had just discovered sex(!). 
          I’ll take a look at “Hunter” and “Bad Deeds” — are they published/available on Amazon (Kindle maybe)?

          1. dleeper47 says:

            I found them both on Kindle and ordered them both … I look forward to reading them …

          2. RobertBidinotto says:

            dleeper47 RobertBidinotto 
            Well, THANK YOU! I’m grateful, and I hope you enjoy them. Please let me know what you think.

          3. RobertBidinotto says:

            dleeper47 RobertBidinotto ehm9201
            Francisco was my favorite character in that novel — probably in all of Rand’s fiction. And of course the famous “money speech” is a rousing defense of the pursuit of wealth through honest production and trade.

        2. RobertBidinotto ehm9201 Unfortunately, a lot of conservatives just breaking into entertainment now are making characters who are “premises with feet” because they’re sop desperate to erase decades of the left’s air-supremacy in entertainment overnight. The feeling of needing to hurry and cram it all in can be almost overwhelming. People have to realize that on this front in the war, we need to play the long game.

          1. RobertBidinotto says:

            WesternFreePress RobertBidinotto ehm9201 
            Sadly true. There have been a number of awkward and clunky productions pushing conservative/libertarian ideology — stress the word “ideology.” The three “Atlas Shrugged” film installments have been big disappointments in that regard. They were made in haste and on limited budgets, with middling and sometimes woefully inexperienced talent. I can’t imagine the “message” reaching beyond the already convinced.

          2. RobertBidinotto GregoryConterio  ehm9201 
            Yep. This is only the beginning, though. Conservatives are starting to get it, slowly, and will continue to do so. If we have the time, eventually, our movement will mature on this front and do better. God willing we have the time!

    2. RobertBidinotto The left often makes films and stories about the “evil of tyranny and violations of rights” . . . they just tend more often than not to pick the wrong villains.

  11. TeamMan says:

    The Great Solomon, the Wise, saw this and here’s what he said:

    Proverbs 18 Amplified Bible (AMP)
    18 He who willfully separates and estranges himself [from God and man] seeks his own desire and pretext to break out against all wise and sound judgment.  2 A [self-confident] fool has no delight in understanding but only in revealing his personal opinions and himself. 3 When the wicked comes in [to the depth of evil], he becomes a contemptuous despiser [of all that is pure and good], and with inner baseness comes outer shame and reproach.

  12. RobertBidinotto says:

    Our sworn enemies understand the power of storytelling:

    1. RobertBidinotto says:

      @Marty Keller I had completely forgotten about this essay by “The Recovering Bureaucrat.” He obviously “gets it,” and I was honored and flattered that what I wrote would prompt this outstanding commentary. Thank you for bringing it up here; I hope others will click the link and ponder.

  13. dittoheadadt says:

    See, I don’t think it’s that complicated.  I think Liberalism is a mental disorder.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with saying that.  Claustrophobia is a mental disorder.  Fear of flying is a mental disorder.  Millions of people suffer from one or more phobias.  We ALL have mental disorders.  So be it.

    Liberalism is a mental disorder.  When the human brain refuses to conform to reality – proved, undeniable reality – and instead remains rooted in believing to be true that which is manifestly false – THAT is a mental disorder.  When you prove a Liberal to be wrong, they stop the conversation.  They ignore you.  They change the subject.  I’ve seen it time after time after time.  Just ask a feminist why they adore Hillary Clinton and despise Sarah Palin.  You’ll see what I mean.  In a rational feminist brain (an oxymoron), Sarah would be a heroine and Hillary would be persona non grata.

    The corrupt American mainstream media – suppressing, manufacturing, and manipulating the news instead of reporting on what actually is happening in the real world – don’t help matters, though.

    1. dittoheadadt I think that is an entirely reasonable approach to include in an all-fronts strategy to combat the left. Treat the entire ideology as a pariah on decent society. Talk about it is if it is a mental disorder. 
      My preferred flavor of this approach is to throw the profound immorality of their ideology in their faces—to call them out, loud and proud, for their serial ethical failures.

      1. dittoheadadt says:

        Where did I portray anything as an approach to combat the Left? Please provide the relevant quote(s).

      2. dittoheadadt says:

        Now THIS is my entirely reasonable approach to combat the Left:

    2. dleeper47 says:

      Here’s how Thomas Paine (allegedly) put it …

  14. MikeStStation says:

    I agree with the basic premise of this.  As someone who has debated with liberals/leftists for years, I don’t think I’ve ever successfully altered a single opinion regardless of facts.  But it’s worth noting that the right is just as vulnerable to this as the left.  I’ve heard no factual effective arguments against Brownback’s tax cut plan, which the left is heralding as a failure.  We have to engage with our own narrative when it falls short of the facts.

    1. MikeStStation I think that RobertBidinotto would say that we don’t need more effective arguments, we need effective stories. And I think there’s a lot to that, even when trying to attack or defend a tax plan. 
      So let’s try an experiment. MikeStStation, please tell us more about the tax plan to which you are referring, and we’ll try to think about how stories can be used rather than arguments . . .


      1. MikeStStation says:

        WesternFreePress MikeStStation RobertBidinotto GregoryConterio

        An experiment eh?  OK I’ll bite.  Kansas Governor Brownback dropped the top income-tax rate by 25%, lowered sales taxes and eliminated a tax on small-business income.  Tax collections dropped, and Moody’s cut the debt rating for Kansas.  

        So I would say, based on the results, that this plan didn’t work.  Is there an alternate view in which it really DID work and it’s just not obvious, or do we accept it at face value as failed public policy and adjust fire?

        Or is there just a better story?

        1. MikeStStation WesternFreePress RobertBidinotto GregoryConterio  Is Kansas the only example of a polity that has ever reduced taxes? Do we have data on other such experiments? Of course we do—quite a lot of it. In the aggregate, lowering taxes brings beneficial results. Sometimes, though not always, it increases revenue. (Sometimes it does reduce it, though is that always a bad thing? Should government always have more and more and more money?) Kansas’ story is not yet fully written, and we already have plenty of other examples through history to which we can turn.

  15. RascalJones says:

    My wife and I have talked about how INTENTIONS matter more with liberals than RESULTS. This is very much like this article. Thank you for your insightful thoughts.

    1. RascalJones You are right. It’s tragic, really, that so many people to whom we have accorded the respectful assumption that they “mean well” turn out to be nothing more than preening narcissists. 
      I have written on that subject in greater detail here:

  16. TeamMan says:

    There are some truly sad stories about how the philosophy of the left work out in real life, but these are ignored.  Here’s just a tiny sample:

    1. TeamMan I think the primary philosophy of the left is that through enough application of government force, paradise can be achieved. (
      Can you think of some examples more along those lines?

  17. RobertBidinotto @Marty Keller That was a really terrific piece, RB (and also RB).
    I very much appreciate the idea of the zero sum narrative having its roots in tribal/hunter-gatherer times.

  18. RobertBidinotto says:

    WesternFreePress RobertBidinotto And it made sense that people would believe in a “zero-sum tribal Narrative” in primitive times. That was their experience of life: Some gained at the expense of others; only tribal affiliations kept you relatively safe and secure in a threatening world.
    The advent of the Agricultural Revolution was the first crack in that Narrative. When individuals began to appropriate bounded private property from nature, then develop it, the kernels of private property and human progress were sown. Socialized/tribalized production demonstrably didn’t work as well as private property, because the former — focused on collective redistributionism — undercut personal incentives to produce. The Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial and the Scientific Revolutions continued the expansion of individual autonomy and, as a corollary, social and economic progress.
    That’s why it’s wretchedly ironic that the left’s backward march toward premodern tribalism and the zero-sum social world has been labeled “progressive.” Nothing could be more atavistic and regressive than the leftist Narrative.

  19. RobertBidinotto This would suggest—the left’s regressive nature and efforts notwithstanding—that humanity is on an upward progression, with a lot of hope for our future. This is only the beginning of a true respect for human rights.

  20. middleearthling says:

    What changed me from a Left winger to a mid-Right conservative, was being shown evidence that capitalism has done vastly more for poverty than any other economic movement or from 1000s of years of giving to the poor.

  21. middleearthling That’s an excellent reason. For me, it was a series of events and realizations over a long period of time. It began with the reaction a bunch of lefties had to a shirt I was wearing with a pen and ink drawing of a rattlesnake. A most ridiculous—in the true meaning of the word—reaction. Then, it was something from a philosophy class. Then it was some facts and stats about guns and gun control. One by one, the veils dropped revealing the ugly true behind. For me, at first, the journey towards the right was one of backing away from the left in revulsion.

  22. RobertBidinotto GregoryConterio I just sent him a query. Thanks!

  23. ScottLively says:

    You’re missing the deeper point, Greg.  They are not just believing a narrative, they are believing a profoundly FALSE narrative.  This is a spiritual, not an intellectual phenomenon.

    II Thessalonians 2  “ the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. that lawless one [Antichrist] will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.”

    The only narrative that can save the deceived is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  24. ScottLively says:

    RobertBidinotto  The Bible is not a myth, Robert.  It is God’s narrative, also known as Truth.  The objective reality you want leftists to see only exists because He is a God of order.  The proof of that order rests upon a series of logical presuppositions that can only be supported by Genesis 1:1 — the sole prime reality that itself does not depend on any other presupposition.  You’re a good analyst but you’re still scratching at the surface of the problem.

  25. ScottLively RobertBidinotto Where does he say that the Bible is a myth? (It’s early in the morning; am I just forgetting . . . ?)

  26. GlennBeaton says:

    Absolutely correct.  Another way to look at it is this:  

    The motivations of the Left are not to solve problems, but to feel good about their efforts.  Results are not entirely irrelevant in the calculus (it does feel a little better to succeed than to fail) but mostly are.

  27. GlennBeaton Unfortunately, yes, I think this is so. I think a lot of the rank and file on the left, like any rank and file, aren’t too involved or deeply informed—they just have a general ideological alignment. Being on the left makes them feel compassionate, and in order to gain their continued sanction and support, the elites need only continue to make them feel as though they are compassionate just for holding certain positions. Results are unnecessary, and the lack of results is not spotted by the rank and filer, for he is too busy feeling good about himself and otherwise just going about his day.

Arguing with the Left: We Are Doing It Wrong!