One of my all time favorite presidents and founding fathers, John Adams, told us that in any war the battle would be fought on three fronts. Of course the enemy and that 1/3 of Americans would support the war, 1/3 would be strongly against any war, and the true battlefield would be for the hearts and minds of the middle 1/3 who could go either way. I believe that same thing could be said in any political debate as well. George Bush never lost his 1/3 who supported him, could never win over the 1/3 who would never agree with anything he said, but he also lost the majority of those all important middle. We are now seeing the very same phenomenon happening to Obama, just at break neck speed. His popularity with that middle is dropping in months instead of years as those in the middle see how he is governing.
This is the question I have long pondered, how do you reach the hearts and minds of those in the middle? By their very nature they are not partisan, and in most cases are apolitical, not particularly interested most of the time. Before this last election I was preaching who Obama was, who he surrounded himself with, what his views would cause if implemented, and it was unwelcome information. "He seemed like a nice guy, he seemed like he just wants to get along, he even promises to give me a tax break, surely I am in that 95% aren't I?" "You're just a Republican, of course you're not going to like him." Those were things I heard.
Today, a year later, things are changing. I was talking with an Obama voter who used to be a co-worker of mine. Today she has a very different attitude, actually called me today to ask what was going on, why things were happening as they are. She said "you predicted all of this, what is going to happen next?" She has been only able to find part time work since this time last year, as have a full 25% of those who worked in our office before the company shut down. There is one way punish someone financially and they will come to realize that elections have consequences. However, how can we reach them with the carrot instead of the stick?
Sunday morning a friend called, he like I, are hard core right wingers. His call was to ask me to figure out how to temper my political remarks to reach the middle. He was telling me that he and a friend had been talking about my political comments from blogs, emails, and facebook links and posts. Their comments were that there was a lot of great information but it was going over the heads of most readers.
I understand this, however, am still trying to decide what role I want to take. Do I want to figure out a way to make political pablum interesting for the uninitiated, or to feed meat to the passionate. Today I had another call from a friend who is afraid of where we are going, and wanted some understanding of what is going on, but she told me that reading most of political rants makes her more confused than anything. Her comments is one I have heard far too often, she said she simply doesn't understand how politics work, doesn't know anything about history, or economics and just hearing those topics her eyes glaze over and she panics. We need to reach her, and all of those who are not understanding what is going on, but know that something isn't right. How do we do it?
If anyone has any suggestions I am open to listen. How do we sell policy politics to those who don't follow politics, or have any educational background to understand those policies? We are competing with a party that is great with slogans, with promises that hold no weight in reality, that simply can't be done as promised.
However, when someone doesn't know and understand that they are being lied to, it can be effective politically at least short term. When you are dealing with a president who simply is willing to manipulate the populace with his charisma it is difficult to overcome. Obama knows that if he is able to get his Health Care bill passed he will be able to preach about all the wonderful things it is going to do, and how much he has given to the American people through 2012. He Could get away with this because he will be selling the dream of what this bill will do while it won't go into effect until 2013. If he loses in 2012 the Republican will get the blame when the economy sinks further into the abyss because of how that bill will kill millions of jobs and small businesses.
People won't blame Obama and the Democrats but the new president who is taking the heat for the horrible policy Obama left him with. In this bill, Obama is taking the page directly from Professor Harold Hill from the "Music Man." He will be on that last train out of town when the bill arrives.