Dale Carnegie to Republicans: "Make friends, influence people"

Politically, I am a little to the right of Alan Keyes. So, it was a bit awkward to have a recent post to these diaries tweeted on the liberal blog, The Reid Report. I would have preferred that Charles Krauthammer endorse my thoughts in the second paragraph of his next syndicated column.  Instead, Joy Reid, a liberal writer of some distinction, provided me an unexpected opportunity to communicate with her audience.  In retrospect, I am grateful.

A recent Red State diary titled “Conservatism is faltering” challenges conservatives to recognize that persuasion is the only tool available to us that can change the balance of power in Washington. That persuasion can be effected in one of two ways. We can convince conservatives, who are either not voting or voting for third party candidates, to return to the Republican fold or we can entice voters from the Democratic ranks to cross over.

The second alternative, while more daunting, is preferable. The first option merely adds a vote to column A. The second accomplishes the same while subtracting a vote from column B. The second requires a huge leap of faith. How is that accomplished? A high percentage of voters on either side are decidedly partisan.

Contempt for the opposition may reinforce one’s intransigence but it never persuades anyone to change their mind. Conservatives may find the president and his political operatives to be pointlessly patronizing and condescending. But here lies the most important distinction. The numbers weigh in favor of the Democrats, especially in key Midwest cities. Democratic politicians are not trying to persuade conservatives. They are trying to secure the loyalty of their own voters.  The civility bar is set lower when the numbers favor you.

I would suggest that conservatives spend far less time focusing on the failings and biases of the media and Democratic politicians. We aren’t going to persuade Bill Maher,  Rachel Maddow or Ed Schulz. We aren’t going to convert Al Gore or Debbie Wasserman Schulz.  And we don’t have to. We do need to persuade some of our friends and neighbors. We may disagree on policy and political philosophy but those disagreements are vulnerable to reason.

Conservatives should commit to civil, respectful debate. Contempt is bad strategy, even when it works. When the numbers are against you, it never works.

We should study and understand the issues and be able to defend our beliefs. Every conservative should read the book “Vision of the Anointed” by Thomas Sowell.  No one has ever refuted liberal doctrine more effectively. He succeeds in a way that Republican candidates rarely do.

I plow little common ground with the subscribers to the Reid Report. Yet, I was afforded a better opportunity to be heard there than conservatives sometimes get from their brethren on right wing sites. We could stand a few more ‘Jack Kemp’ Republican voices in the wind.