As conservatives, we feel that we are right. We feel as though the leftist agendas have been practiced to failure, exhaustion, and are not even viable solutions. However, many conservatives lack the ability to communicate with those of opposing viewpoints. I have been to countless conservative speaking–engagements, summits, think tanks, classes, et cetera, but these venues shed a “preach to the choir” ambience. What about those who are different, who vehemently disagree with conservative policies, and/or who label us evil, bigots, fear–mongers, callous, immoral, and barrages of other words? If conservatives’ pervasive trait of “realism” is to be tapped, we must realize these are the real people who need to be reached—and the way we communicate with them is crucial. Now, in the wake of a climacteric political race, conservatives need these skills more than ever. I write this not to accuse conservatives, because all of us are different in many ways, but merely bring some thoughts to attention that may help augment our platform.
First, know that tone and listening are two invaluable communication tools. I once had someone tell me, “You have two ears and one mouth. Do the math.” Listening twice as much as you speak and keeping your tone to an acceptable, “non–threatening”, and un–condescending volume is a great way to carry yourself throughout a dialogue with a Leftist. Just as the left seems to enjoy discerning faults in the world, they also will find fault in your communication if done improperly or “threateningly”.
Second, understand what differentiates Left from Right. Conservatives believe in less government whereas the left believes in more. This is simple but must always be consciously remembered.
Third, be ready for an isolated example. Leftists consistently highlight the unfortunate scenario of a small number. For example, people in favor of Obama–Care, socialization of healthcare, and/or other variances of healthcare entitlement programs often use the “cancer–ridden homeless man” story. Essentially, there is a homeless gentleman who is diagnosed with cancer and goes to emergency rooms (since he cannot be turned away) regularly for some sort of panacea because he cannot afford an oncologist (which is what he needs). Two things are routinely pulled from this story by the left: (1) thousands of dollars are being spent treating the wrong problem and (2) this is an atrocity no one should have to go through. The conservative generally responds in a manner viewed as callus and insensitive in the leftist’s eyes—therefore, how can we, as conservatives, avoid less of these unsuccessful conversations? The answer is simple: articulation, tone, and engagement.
Thomas Lock’s “Second Treatise on Government” suggests that no civilization will ever be perfect as a result of the fall of man—sin. Sin corrupts all humanity. Therefore, if two humans cannot exist in a perfect Utopian society, how can 320 million? Bring something like this to the Leftist’s attention using tone and calmness and ask, “What do you think about this?” Leftists will generally respond uniquely, since, let us be honest and genuine, every person has a slightly different worldview, another detail that must be kept in mind.
All differences accounted for leftists will generally not find it moral to allow the “atrocity”. Maybe then suggest what NGO’s can do for these people and why pry at why this has to be the government. From here, use discernment and follow similar principles. Not using leading questions only, per se, but helping the leftist see how many of these Utopian dreams are merely unfeasible and that conservatism seeks to implement what works best as nothing will ever be “perfect”.
Fourth, strive to instill a sense of trust of humanity as opposed to the government. For absolute power corrupts absolutely. Always keep an understanding that leftists are going to consistently be compassionate, Band–Aids to the broken, and speaker forthe unspoken–for. Leftists may have a stronger desire to be humanistic, humanitarian, and philanthropic than many conservatives. Although this is not true in most cases, it helps going into a dialogue with a leftist assuming that is their perception; helping the Left understand that conservatives consistently fund non–profits but merely prefer the right to choose where their money goes if the next step. Leftists routinely argue that “corporate greed” will prevent money from being distributed and that humanity’s proclivity to sin inhibits our giving, hence why the government is needed. Here, I suggest the theories of expectancy and dependency. For example, a teacher wrote into the O’Reilly Factor saying (paraphrased), “I had a student today respond to what he wants to be when he grows up with, ‘live on welfare and get free healthcare’”. Unfortunately, the “hard–worker” who receives entitlements becomes lost amidst those who treat it as free–money, entitlement, and eventual dependency. Perhaps continue this conservative–leftist dialogue by catechizing a leading question such as, “Obviously this is not right, yes? What would work better?”
Last, as a conservative, you already feel as though self–responsibility is becoming a disappearing attribute of the common man and is being juxtaposed with a nurtured sense of entitlement and being “owed something”. Face it! We are owed NOTHING except life, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness. Entitlement comes with an innate sense of “owed”, and entitlements breed dependency more often than not. The government of the United States of America was not established with the mission statement of granting happiness to all.
Fellow conservatives, when you return to your lives, embark with a sense of understanding toward the Left. Understand they want to help, fix, provide, and save but many their ideas are simply unrealistic. Telling them they are unfeasible is impractical and ineffective—as is throwing accusatory statements or putting them on the defensive. When Pilate accused Jesus, Jesus did not respond with the ferocity of the common–Roman–man’s perception of Him. I rest my case in that it is not what you say, it is how you articulate, engage, word, and say it.