Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The language of the Right Wing

There's a fantastic diary by thereisnospoon over at My Left Wing that addresses why we continue to lose elections -- it's all about focus and language. You can read Why the Right-Wing Gets It--and Why Dems Don't here. It does come back to focus and language. If we don't get a handle on how to reach the heart of our base, we're going to fail.

I'm thinking again about something Blue Gal posted -- that we are the intellectuals and our country has a history of dismissing intellectuals. We do. The language of the Liberals, Progressives, and Left Wing is always at a higher level. ALWAYS. But when we take our language to an impovershed worker, barely earning minimum wage, no education, our $5.00 words are perceived as arrogant and distant. We may have the program that's going to get this person out of the hole, but we have evoked fear.

The Right Wing approaches this same worker with a paternalistic attitude -- using simple language, treating him as a child -- and appeals to his fears that someone OTHER is getting his fair share; his kids can't go to public school because those Liberal Pinkos are taking up needed tax dollars to send their kids to Private School. Fear.

Health Care, same kind of deal. Familys. You name it, we've got the solutions, but they've got the focus and language.

We need to change this now, or even with a 31% approval rating, the Radical Right will continue to hold power.


DBK said...

Consider this. When labor organizers in the early half of the previous century went to speak to laborers, they were laborers themselves. Now those organizers were intellectuals, many of them, but they went in and worked in the mines beside those laborers and in the factories beside those laborers and, in that way, were able to speak the same language and get through. These days, how do we reach the religious extremists? We don't go to their churches. How do we reach the laborer? The laborer isn't surfing the Internet and reading the blogs. The problem goes deeper than merely adjusting the language. It's about perception, true, but nobody who reads my blog gets that I fixed bridges and flipped burgers and breaded hundreds of pieces of chicken an hour and washed dishes and so on to pay my way through school. But it isn't all about language. It's about reaching someone's soul and about being "the Other" rather than another.

DivaJood said...

You are completely correct pointing out that the early organizers walked the walk; the process of identification was essential because those organizers understood conditions first hand.

But over time we have somehow lost touch with the language of experience; you can bet that the Right Wing politicians aren't working in the mines, or working on a construction site -- but they've mastered the language of fear, twisting good values into something dark.

Religious extremists do the same thing; they preach fear and separation from the unfamiliar and different by labeling it immoral or infidel.

I would like to know that you did fix bridges, and flip burgers, and so on, because it tells me you clearly understand conditions of people working hard to make ends meet.

When I got divorced after 22 years of marriage (when I worked in the home as a mother), I got a job at an entry level salary fit for a 22 year old. I was 43. And, at 43, wound up being laid-off at a time of massive unemployment; at 43, with little training beyond political organizing on a volunteer basis, and not much experience beyond having raised two children, and having a Masters of Fine Art, I spent 18 months unable to find work. Ageism was a factor, as was my lack of training.

People like me are ripe for the pickings of the Right Wing -- appeal to my fear that I won't ever get work because someone "illeagal" or "different" is getting that work that should rightfully be mine.

What keeps me from believing those kinds of fear-driven remarks? I don't identify with hatred. I recognize fear for what it is: a master thief.

The Liberal/Progressive/Left Wing has got to find a way to get to the laborers, the middle class, the disenfranchised on a soul basis! We've been labeled by the Right Wing as immoral, as unpatriotic, as corrupt, and as (god forbid) intellectual elitists. We have to find a way to fix this.

In AA, people stay sober through a process of identification. Doesn't that work for us as well?