Guest blog by David French
It is one of the great travesties of our time that the Left (especially the radical Left) has attained a certain degree of moral and intellectual authority. Especially on campus, the intellectual weight of leftist ideas is assumed, and their moral virtue is virtually unquestioned. Conservatives fight the stereotype of “haters,” while the Left – which clings in many cases to Marxist concepts which have caused human suffering on a scale one can scarcely comprehend – enjoys the image of “idealists.”
But all of this is beginning to change, and it’s changing in part because conservative activists finally have access to means and methods of communication that are not controlled by the mainstream (or sometimes radical) Left.
All of this is old news and is the subject of countless books, articles, and op-eds. But less discussed than the “why” is the “how.” We know why conservatives can make progress, but unless you live in the belly of the conservative activist community, you don’t know “how” to make it happen.
How do you do it? Through credibility, persistence, and just a tiny bit of web savvy. First, be credible. Prominent conservative websites and news outlets are constantly scrutinized by full-time leftist activists, and the responsible outlets are (rightfully) suspicious of new and unfamiliar sources. So, please, if you’ve got a story to tell, substantiate it with documents, videos, or other forms of objectively persuasive evidence. “He said, she said,” just doesn’t cut it. In fact, be suspicious of any outlet that will simply “take your word for it.”
Second, be persistent. If you have a story to tell, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t gain traction right away. I can’t tell you how many times a court victory got less coverage than I thought it should but then the very existence of that victory bolstered a later story – or became the backbone of a longer magazine or journal article. Don’t take your first “no” for an answer. If your story is credible, have the confidence to tell it again and again.
Finally, show a bit of web savvy. Know the key bloggers in your area. Don’t be afraid to start local. Use Facebook, but don’t think it can do too much (Yay! My group has 5,000 fans! Consider that many of the leading conservative websites have hundreds of thousands of readers, including readers at the highest levels of government). Above all, learn how to tell your story concisely and precisely. People don’t tend to read screeds. Screeds make you seem strange and slightly unbalanced. Two information-packed paragraphs (with supporting links) exude competence and confidence.
When you take on the campus left, you will feast on low-hanging fruit. But how influential is a victory no one hears about? Will you do any damage to the reputation of the institution you challenged? Will your activism lead to any real public accountability if, for example, legislators or leading conservatives are completely unaware of your actions?
The Left often doesn’t deserve its idealistic public reputation, and it especially doesn’t deserve its reputation for intellectual excellence. Discredit its bad ideas and discredit its bad acts, and the culture will change. It may take a long time, but the change will come.