Saturday, May 09, 2009

To Win the War of Ideas, the Focus Should be on Results and not Intent

People can argue until the end of time why people do certain things and support certain policies. Such actions are wildly speculative and create interesting gossip, but do little in helping one's cause. We live in a society that naturally assumes the best in others and are cynical about those who are quick to harshly judge. Furthermore, we get very uncomfortable when people begin to discuss "conspiracy" theories and invariably, discussions about "intent," always lead down that path.

I have to admit, after decades of working in the public policy debate, I am having a harder time myself now more than ever in avoiding the temptation to discuss "intent" rather than results. This is due to several reasons and most of them have to do with the unusual story of Barack Obama:

  • His far reaching economic policies had him spend more money in 100 days than Ronald Reagan spent in 8 years

  • His radical reversal of policies of containment in dealing with rogue nations

  • His associations, that include a domestic terrorist that actually bombed the Pentagon and a minister who baptized him that clearly demonstrates anti-American sentiments

The list goes on and in spite of how impressive this is, history has shown that those who focus on intent that leads to conspiracy theories are discredited, isolated, and marginalized. They find themselves "whispering" about what all these policies are actually about rather than proclaiming with boldness their disastrous results and providing meaningful alternatives.

One of my favorite examples of this is the John Birch Society. One of the most influential people in my early political life was a fellow student in college who was raised in a "Bircher" family, as he liked to say. From him, I learned about the US Constitution, rule by law, the importance of free market economics, and national sovereignty. Unfortunately, the organization is only known in popular culture for its alarm about one world government as seen in the relationships among policy leaders who are members of the Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg Group, and the Trilateral Commission. Over time it became know only for what it opposed. Ayn Rand may have hit the nail on the head when she said that the group had become "futile," because it didn't stand for anything, but merely opposed Communism. Its years of work in promoting sound ideas were washed away in conspiracy theories.

If Obama's policies are harmful, tell people why. Discuss how the US debt ratio is now comparable to third world countries and not the President's plans to make us into a rather large Venezuela. Talk about how we are pumping money into the economy at a rate comparable to countries similar to Zimbabwe and the inflation that will produce. But to say that is part of an effort to bring down the government in order to raise up a dictatorship makes for interesting conversation, but it only "wins" those who are already alarmed. Obama won by ten million votes more than McCain. The "fallacy of the mob" makes it difficult for people to accept such an alarmist thesis. Don't make them do such, the results of the policies are bad enough to seriously consider our views.

Our goal should be to effectively win the war of ideas. Focusing on the results of bad public policy is a much better vehicle towards that goal than discussing the conspiracy theories that can surround such bad legislation.

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on AM 650 (M-F at 11 am) in Houston, Texas and on AOL Radio. Eric Bolling of Fox News and Fox Business says that Price’s Blog “is very influential and moves the blogosphere.” Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com. You can also find Price on Strategy Room at FoxNews.com.

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