I am as right-wing and conservative as any of you, but in a different way than most (perhaps all) of you. I’m what the New York Times would call an “ultra-Orthodox” Jew. They have other names as well for me and my kind, but I use the quotation marks because poor descriptives poorly describe. But, for the sake of this little essay, it’ll do. More than just a member of this complex body politic known as the Jews, I am a rabbi. There are many gradations of rabbis, and I am right towards the bottom. No false humility here; just immeasurable respect for the genius, dedication, scholarship, and saintliness that exists in many others that hold this title.
So, attending my little class at the Hillel House at CU Boulder about 13 years ago was a young man heavily invested in conservative politics. He and I hit it off, and he first suggested (then pushed) that I should join some group of Jewish conservatives. At first I just tried to pleasantly refuse, but when he pushed, the conversation took a deeper and more intense tack. I had to explain my hesitation.
The crux of the argument isn’t for now, but finally, he heard me. He had a breakthrough moment. “I get it,” he said. “You’re a Divine Monarchist.”
I loved that moment. It was defining moment for me in my political maturation.
On almost every point, you and I would agree. Low taxes. Limited government. Strong military. Traditional marriage. Politically, we would see eye to eye on nearly every major issue. How to frame a law might cause differences, but that’s the nature of all sides in the American scene.
So, as a conservative Divine Monarchist (typed with a sly smile), I’d like to offer two or three cents worth of my thoughts. I will add the proverbial “These views don’t represent the views of this channel or any other people” clause. It’s me; I’m unique. There is nothing even closely resembling a consensus amongst Jews. This is just one guys thoughts representing one guy. To prove that I used to have liberal credentials, I’ll quote a Grateful Dead song. “Believe it if you need; if you don’t just pass it on.”
On a phone conversation about 18 years ago, my big brother told me that he was coaching his 5 year old son’s soccer team. Curious, I asked what the role of the coach was at that age. He said words that blasted through me. He said, “We just tell them, ‘Keep your head up, and keep your eye on the goal.’”[pullquote]And, keep your eye on the goal. Great advice, but what’s the goal? Perhaps, your goal is to be right? Do you have an affiliation to a set of ideas that is so powerful that being seen as correct is all that’s about? [/pullquote]
Wow! So simple. Those words stay with me. And, that’s what I think we need. I’ll leave the “keep your head up” part short. G-d runs the world. (I know Brad (and certainly others) takes the agnostic step here, but I’ll keep it going for a second anyway.) We don’t know how His plan unfolds, but it will be good in the end. Relax. Life is wonderful. Not only is it true, but it helps in delivering the message. People like to listen to happy people. Shrill people can be entertaining, but they are seldom convincing. So, keep your head up.
And, keep your eye on the goal. Great advice, but what’s the goal? Perhaps, your goal is to be right? Do you have an affiliation to a set of ideas that is so powerful that being seen as correct is all that’s about? Please understand. I believe that you’re right, but is that the goal? Or is it your fuel? Is it your heart? Is it your passion? But, ask yourself: do you really need to prove your point? So, it’s about you? No, of course not, you may claim. It’s about the Truth!
I’d say that you haven’t yet found the goal.
At this point, I could digress to an entire essay about the means versus the ends. The thought that I would develop is that it’s not as black and white as many think. If I had that proverbial gun in 1935, I would have gladly killed Hitler. If I could have lied to stop the 9/11 murders, then I would have lied. A slippery slope indeed, but one that we must approach and sometimes walk on. I do not advocate lowering yourself to the level of the far left, but you must learn from them if you hope to defeat them. No, we shouldn’t stoop to their wickedness, but if your goal is to be right, please enjoy the view as America finishes her last semblances of sanity. You can right all day long. Please look at where that has us.
So, then, what is the goal? I don’t have the simple answer to that question. It took several genius minds more than a day or two to draft an acceptable constitution. I can’t write the mission statement for the right. For now, let’s call the goal political victory. Gaining some sanity back. Slowing down some growth. Developing a serious foreign policy. Whatever the details – political victory.
What is lacking, I believe, is an appreciation for the greatness of marketing. This one focus could be the difference between night and day for the right. Example: if I want to sell the ideas of the right, I don’t start with telling my perspective audience about my profundity. I’m back to thinking that my goal is that I’m right and I need to prove it. I don’t start with the ideas. I don’t even start with telling you what’s wrong with the left. No. I have to identify the problems that people are suffering from. What bugs people? Where are they and what’s driving them nuts? The left is brilliant with this.
People are bothered by poverty. The left claims to be able to solve that. People are bothered by racism. The left can solve that. People are disturbed by discrimination. Only the left can help with that.
Does it matter that their ideas are corrupt? Does it matter that they solve nothing? To G-d, it matters. To you it matters. But does it matter to the voters who have helped to shape the direction of this country? The idiocy and emptiness of the left is something that we’re all convinced of, but quit patting yourselves on the back and get to work selling the ideas. The right is the party of free market competition, but we don’t do what every successful business must do. We don’t market well. Our marketing skills are a horrible joke.
You want to know what bothers people today? People are bothered by dirty politics. They are sick of corruption. They are tired of fighting. You don’t sell them “small government.” You sell them solutions to THEIR problems. The solution to their problem ultimately must be from the right, but that doesn’t talk to them. You have to talk to people. Where they are and in the language that they can hear.[pullquote]The idiocy and emptiness of the left is something that we’re all convinced of, but quit patting yourselves on the back and get to work selling the ideas.[/pullquote]
Of course we need think tanks. The ideas have to remain discussed and debated. The truth is indeed a very stubborn thing. And, the truth is on the side of the right. But, “selling” the truth isn’t as simple as just telling the truth, especially when your perspective “customer” may have voted for President Obama A SECOND TIME! We have to study who this voter is. We have to create a profile. Actually several profiles.
I don’t want to get into too many specifics, but let me give a few examples. First, never praise Ann Coulter. Ms. Coulter is sharp. She comes with her facts lined up, and she is unafraid of the big guns. Bravo for Ann Coulter. But, what is the goal? Does she serve an important role in advancing that goal? Debatable, but let’s just say yes. What should your voice be towards her? I would say (I do say), “She has a lot of points to make, but I think she loses a lot of points for being too obnoxious and aggressive.” Put your spin on it. I don’t care. But do you really think that we’ll bring voters over to the side of truth by telling them how stupid they are? I’m terrified to say it, but ditto for Rush. I think he is brilliant, insanely talented, and I get him. But . . . his job isn’t to save the country. He has to sell time on his show.
This will be difficult for you, but ready? Stop insulting the president. Put all of your conspiracy theories in a closet. Personally, do I suspect that he is a nefarious leftist with intentions to completely transform this country and world into some lame leftist version of utopia? Of course I have such suspicions like that, but what good do they do me when I’m talking to a person who voted for him TWICE! Some people who voted for him even once are stupid, but many aren’t. They are blind in certain aspects of their lives, but they aren’t stupid. And, if you insist that they are, you run the risk of forcing the words, “President Clinton” out of your mouth for another two terms. Bite your tongue till it bleeds but stop making it so personal and bitter.
There are smart people on the left that have egos like the rest of us, and they won’t easily be convinced that they are/were wrong. Be gentle and help them to see what’s wrong with the philosophy behind the approach to big government. Don’t make it personal. Attack policies. Not politicians. Create slogans that are about peaceful discussion and repeat them over and over again until the issue can actually come to the forefront. Heck. That wouldn’t be the worst slogan ever repeated. Attack policies not politicians. There are many more to be created and repeated. As I said, learn from the left. We can scoff at “Hope and Change,” but they beat us with that.
One of the big obstacles that we have to be aware of is the depth of the problem with the media. The right has been far more successful with talk radio because ideas have more of a platform to be formulated on radio than on television. It is less sexy and more available for intelligent discourse, but a lot of good that has done. We have to master the idiot box. And youtube. And Twitter. No, my purist friends, not at the expense of the message. And, yes, this presents a massive challenge because our message includes thoughts which are profound. They can’t always fit into a sound bite. So, we need a strategy that moves people from sound bites to philosophy. We need to think about marketing.
It’s time to organize this conservative mess. Maybe my small voice will be heard by someone with a smaller family than me and more knowledge of politics and marketing. Maybe someone with money will start this ball rolling. I’m a Divine Monarchist, so I see it all as unfolding towards the ultimate goal in either way. Many of you believe in a second coming; I believe in a first. Who is right will be clear sooner than later (I hope and believe). What matters now is helping to right a sinking ship.
I believe that we’re in a mess, and I believe that, anthropomorphically speaking, the Almighty is not happy. Not with entitlement. Not with tolerance of radical Islam. Not with gay marriage. Not with atheism. You get the picture. Would I like to see a smooth transition into the era of Messianic revelation? Yes. Do I believe that the right is more likely to help that transition to be smooth? Sure. Facts are stubborn things, and the facts are with you. But, still, that’s not enough. You have to keep your head up, and you have to keep your eye on the goal.