Election Blue – part 2

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the seriesElection Blue

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If Christians together with Republicans are to stand as this “last best hope of freedom in the world,” then we must do some reformulating.  Some might suggest that we moderate our message and make compromises in order to have party be more palatable to more people.  Politics is indeed an art of compromise.  But there are very fundamental things that we can never compromise without forsaking the yoke of our character, those values that we pledge our lives to.

But, if we cannot change that which is essential to our identity, and necessary for the survival of the republic, then are we to do nothing but huddle and pray?  Are we to build large bunkers, or think as I was about which country to run to?  The answer is no.  But, there are a few realities that we must face, those that the Democrats know and believe to be forever in their favor.

1. America is not a Christian nation.  Sure, there is a plurality that still attends church, but all the numbers indicate that both church attendance and Christian identification are massively atrophying.  But more importantly than that, is the fact that the influence of the Bible and faith in Christ in even those regularly attending church has become largely an afterthought.  Unfortunately, most Christians’ are functionally biblically illiterate.

It has baffled many Republicans that large segments of our society who claim Christian affiliation vote completely contrary to their religious principles, at least on social issues.  This is partly because voting is often seen as independent of the exercise of religion, the idea that the Democrats have the edge in issues of economic “justice,” and also because of ignorance of politics beyond a cultural dogma of voter affiliation.

2. Racial division in our society has rapidly become the biggest elephant in the room.  Though it may not be true, Republicans hate women and minorities.  Perception is reality.  One of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is that truth doesn’t matter at all; perceived truth matters a great deal.  For the moment we have lost that battle.  Correcting and owning this narrative will determine any future for our party.

3. Socialists, Progressively, Liberals, (pick your poison) own all areas of cultural input in our society.  The media is completely covered by Liberalism, except for Fox, which though it has massive viewership, is maligned by everyone else.  Hollywood…I don’t need to say more.  Academia, Philosophy, the music industry are monopolized, and on and on it goes.  The only area that is not covered by them is religion.  That is why it is a battleground, and why Conservative religious leaders are repeatedly pressured to keep their mouths shut.  Liberal religious leaders are freely allowed to spout their political directives to their congregations.

Liberals know an important rule of sales, the person who asks the questions owns the conversation.  The entertainment industry questions the society, just as the media asks questions of the people they are interviewing.  Also, it goes almost without saying that the people with the cameras and microphones will have the loudest voices.

Conservatives have really sought to own the blogosphere, and they pretty well do.  But the only people who are reading Conservatives blogs are the people who already agree.  Other areas of the internet are even more hostile to Republicanism.  But the internet is a niceh media.  Anyone can put up a blog, and likewise is accessed primarily by like-minded people.  Further, George Soros and his machine have invested many millions in taking over these areas of communication.  It is a very public and fully funded goal of Liberals to completely take over all media.

This is possibly the greatest loss for Republicans, and the greatest opportunity for growth.  The good news is that we have virtually no ground to lose.  This is our Inchon landing moment.  We must be just as strategic and bold  as the Liberals.  We must place Republicans in these areas of the media piece by piece.  We must take over the conversation, not by fighting or by creating alternative media forms, but by moving into important roles in the media.  This will not happen overnight, just as the battle wasn’t lost overnight.

4.  American education in almost all areas, but specifically in areas of civics, has crumbled.  This is not a problem for Republicans, or Democrats.  It is a problem for the future of this country, Red and Blue.  Liberals wouldn’t like to admit this, but poor education does benefit their cause.  While the loudest voices for increased funding of our public education system emanates from the Liberal side, this does not equate to making fixing our education problem a priority.

If this were true, they would be proponents of programs like school vouchers, single sex education, and homeschooling, all of which have consistently been proven to out perform our current models.  But, they do not support these programs.  Instead, they support more tax money for the current programs, which makes the teachers’ unions happy.

Of course, no one really wants people to stay ignorant, at least I would hope not.  However, the least educated and the highest levels of education are both the biggest Liberal voting blocks, for entirely different reasons.  Those who are well educated without Liberal indoctrination, especially in areas of history and civics have a much more Republican voting record.

In Part 3 of this series, I’d like to address some of my ideas for how to address these issues. -Ryan

Election Blue – part 1

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the seriesElection Blue

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I’ve been licking my wounds from Tuesday night’s election.  I worked professionally on two campaigns this season, and volunteered walking and working the polls on another.  All of these went the wrong way.  One was expected.  One was an incredibly close and shocking loss, and one was a surprise blowout.

The sense of loss I felt on election night I can’t describe.  The most painful for me was of course, the presidential election.  Like many others, I fasted and prayed leading up to Tuesday.  At the polls I prayed between approaching voters, as my Democrat rivals laughed and joked about how the Republicans were in their final days of idiocy.

As we refreshed web pages and watched the TV in the command center, our hearts sank.  I’ve talked to many who feel the same as I do.  Our country has been going in a direction that is an offense to God.  We have a lot to repent of.  As Abraham Lincoln once said, “I know God is always on the side of the right.  It is my constant prayer and anxiety that I and this nation should be on the Lord’s side.”  That is the farthest place from where this nation has been, and this election was not a step in the right direction.

Further, it feels like quite a hopeless place.  First, this election (even more than the last) highlights a massive racial divide.  Only 39% of white people voted for Obama, yet over 95% of black people did.  The Red State/Blue State divide is bigger than ever.  Christians voted even more for Romney than they did for McCain.  The fact is that young and minority groups are voting in larger numbers than they ever have, and overwhelmingly for Democrats, and if something doesn’t change, Republicans will be the permanent underclass.

Like many I’ve talked to, I’ve felt like I am in a daze.  I’ve even thought about what country I could move to that wouldn’t murder as many babies and hold up choices that God says are sins to be virtuous.  But tonight during my bath, something in my brain clicked.  We are supposed to be “salt and light.”  Many…no most, of the people in the Bible were called to stand for God in places and cultures that were hostile to Him in ways that we can’t fathom.  Sure, being against homosexual marriage might get your business boycotted.  But when was the last time that I was thrown in a pit full of lions for praying to God?  When was the last time that people stoned us for talking about Jesus?   Were you chained to prison guards because you preached the name of Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed the word of God to his generation his entire ministry, and no one ever listened.  The people were just as hostile to the things of the Lord when he died, as they were when he started.  We aren’t called to change the world.  We are called to proclaim the truth of God in love.  Sometimes we will reap a harvest in revival, and sometimes the people will throw rocks.  Jesus even said that many will hate us for being His followers, and in John chapter 3, He said that people would reject Him because they love darkness more than light.

The second thing that my mind went to, as I sat in the tub pondering the election, is that Jesus took a group of about 120 followers that were dedicated to Him (with 12 main leaders) and changed the face of the world.  So on Friday, the leader of this strange heresy was put to death on a cross and his followers scattered in fear.  The plotters of the status quo were victorious.  But by Monday, these same scattered losers were rallying around their risen Christ, willing to give their lives to spread His good news throughout the entire world…and they did both.

I know that Republicanism doesn’t equal Christianity (or vice versa).  But no one who truly understands both politics and orthodox Christianity can believe that the Democratic Party is any friend to God.  Remember, they removed Him from their platform this year…although it was merely a formality after removing any reference to His teachings from the same.

So, it is time for our Resurrection Sunday type of moment (once again—not equating the two).  Yes, all that our country stands for may indeed be lost.  But it doesn’t matter.  We are called to stand for Christ and His principles regardless.  But it is time to rise from the ashes of defeat, and face this with the steely resolve of people who are not afraid, because they cannot lose. -Ryan

An Interesting Look at North Korean News and Policy

Here is an article from today’s North Korean News.  I think that this story is a clear view into the thinking of this government, its propaganda, and dysfunction.  This is officially from the North Korean government, but the English version is published to the web from Japan.  The highlights are added by me.  And yes, I do read the North Korean News…nerdy I know, but true.  We’ll discuss after the clip.

First of all, the title-what government in the world would officially call the leader of its rival country “rat-like”?  Further, the title threatens the South with annihilation.  This is not a new thing, by the way.  North Korea does this on a regular basis.  You notice that it says “Lee Myung Bak Group.”  The North will not refer to the South as a separate country.  It likewise does not call itself North Korea.  Its official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).  Like many Communist countries, this is funny because the country is neither democratic, nor of the people, nor a Republic.  They got the Korea part correct, at least.  In DPRK indoctrination, South Korea is actually a rebel group that broke off from the DPRK, and therefore, they are traitors to their country.

The next paragraph is classic North Korean propaganda.  The first sentence contains a grammar error, and much of the paragraph is run-on, near garden-path sentences.  They adore words like “provocative” and “sycophant”.  My favorite part of the piece is the “…made by an old man more dead than alive.”  They love to throw in these like sentence prefixes and suffixes that have no justification in the piece, as if by simply saying them, the statements become true.  This Orwellian idea of double-speak is a mainstay of N. Korean news.

Two more paragraphs in, it threatens the South with destruction, that everyone should take seriously because of their recent “striking demonstration” of power.  By this, they must mean the failed missile launch a week ago.  North (and South) Korea are prime examples of the Asian obsession with face.  They will do anything to prevent themselves from being publicly embarrassed.  Their failed missile launch was intended to threaten the world and display their prowess around their Day of the Sun celebrations.

The embarrassment they see on the world stage will be reacted to in two ways by North Korea: First, like an abusive spouse, they will find a bad guy to focus their anger on.  Reading this article makes it seem like the South were the ones embarrassing and provoking them.  If you knew nothing about the events of that launch, you would think that the North had succeeded, but the South had mocked them despite their triumph.

Their second reaction will be to double down on their rhetoric and provoke further.  This article threatens the South in even more harsh language than usual.  They will also test another nuclear device in the next few weeks.  They might even fire a few rockets, or shoot at a South Korean ship.  It is all intended to deflect from their embarrassment.

A great question the world needs to ask itself, is if it can afford  a country with nuclear weapons, that will use them simply to avoid their own embarrassment.

Below, I have linked a video that explains their Day of the Sun celebrations.

Why Communist Countries Don’t Play Professional Sports

sportsI must, right off the bat, admit that I am a sports nut.  No, I’m not the kind of guy who knows every free-throw percentage of every player in the NBA, but I do know the ’86 Mets won the World Series after the famous Bill Buckner incident.  That is especially powerful in my mind, because earlier in that year I went to my first Major League game, where the Mets defeated the Giants.  The Miracle Mets pulled it off, working late into the night.  I was hooked.

Now, I will watch almost any sport I see on TV or in person.  And being a sports guy I see a lot of things in the world through the lens of sports.  The tension of the Cold War: it’s just like the Red Sox and the Yankees.  A looming budget showdown: Tim Tebow with a minute left, and down by 3.

One thing I’ve always noticed is the way sports are played out on the international stage between countries.  Particularly of note is the fact that countries like China and the Soviet Union always did amazingly well in the Olympics, but were without any professional sports teams.  Communist countries always seem to excel in sports, but the most obvious expression of that, being  publicly played professional sports, is entirely absent.  And why is that?  Well, the answer sheds a lot of light on why societies function the way they do.

Cuba

When Castro took over Cuba in its communist revolution, he simultaneously banned professional sports, and required amateur sports be played by all.  He mandated exercises start for children even before they could walk, and made physical fitness an important part of each school day.  Cubans were also forbidden from being paid to play any sport.

What happened was that Cubans became excellent at sports.  They have done very well in international competition, despite having only a little more than 11 million people.  But, whenever their teams visit other countries, their players run away.

Their baseball players all want to play in America.  Their soccer players escape to South and Central America, and their distance swimmers are always turning up soggy in Florida.  And Cuba is the most successful communist country in the world of sports.*

North Korean Baseball

The reason for this is that professional sports are one of the most pure forms of capitalism there is.  If a baseball player can run fast, throw well, and hit home runs, he will make it to the Major Leagues.  It doesn’t matter if he’s fat, if his father was an alcoholic, or what his political beliefs are.  If he can play and his attitude is right, he will be drafted.

It also doesn’t matter if he was born with ridiculous talent and never had to work at it, or if he spent the last 4 years in the batting cages.  All that matters is if he can play right now.  If he can, he will be paid.  If he plays well, his team wins.  If his team wins, people watch the games.  If people go to the games, the team makes money.  If the team makes money, he gets more money.  That is pure and simple capitalism.

This rule works in one way or another in every sport.  But it is directly opposite of Communist principles.

If the game were played in North Korea, the roster would be determined by lottery.  Any citizen could play.  The players would make the same amount of money as the hot dog vendors, and would run or walk to base regardless of whether they hit the ball.  All games would end in a tie, and the players would only work hard because they know that poor performance would land their families in jail.  People would only come to the games because the government would give them free loaves of bread after everything was over.

Sound like something you’d like to be a part of?  I doubt it.

The Big Show

But communist countries often do well at the Olympics.  The reason is pretty simple.  Communist countries are under a lot of pressure to prove that their system is superior.  If their athletes win medals it shows the world that communism is prosperous.  The athletes are working hard for personal accomplishment, but they are worked hard for government glory.  Look at all of the antics with the North Korean soccer team, and this concept becomes quite apparent.

No one would want to go to a North Korean baseball game.  But people get confused about aspects of socialism that lead to the same results.  Scientists work harder when there is personal reward tied to their work.  So do miners, fishermen, and doctors.  That is natural.

In the same way that it makes no sense to take all achievement rewards out of a baseball game, it is foolish to do so in most other areas of life and work.  That is why the American forefathers believed so passionately in capitalism and freedom.  People work harder and smarter when there is an incentive to do so.  It might seem callous to say that not everyone can play for the Yankees.  But some are just too slow, or near sighted, or fragile.  That is life.  American sports have become so enjoyable because of its elite nature, and because of the money that generates.  The best get to play.  The rest, well they can find something else to do successfully.  It worked for Stephen Hawking, and I wouldn’t want to watch him pitch.

Anyway, I have to get back to watching the game. -Ryan

*I did not discuss China, and its sports system, which was changed (like much in the Chinese economy) to more of a capitalist system in the late 1990’s.  Thus, it cannot be seen as a fair example of sports in a Communist country.  While the Communist Party has a complete lock on the political system, much of China is firmly capitalist today, which accounts for their recent economic success.



Predictions for 2012

Stonehenge

It’s that time of year again: time for my predictions for 2012!

Just to clarify (as always) this no attempt at fortune-telling, tea reading, astrology, or anything involving animal entrails.  Instead, I am estimating what I think might happen according to everything from Game Theory and analysis to gut feeling.  Some things I get pretty accurately.  Other times I am flat wrong.  It seems to me that I have a pretty decent track record, but the only reason that I do this is for fun.

The challenge is for anyone to do this along with me, and see who gets things the most right.  So, here goes…

Politics

  • The one thing I always hate doing is presidential politics.  It seems to me that in any election cycle anything over one month off is a political eternity, but there are a few points that I think will be big influences.
    • Anyone but Romney will have a hard time winning at all, because they are too flash-in-the-pan-y.  Every other candidate has such big negatives that it will be pretty easy for Obama to paint them as either evil or crazy.  Ron Paul seems to be the one exception to that, but he does his own job of making himself seem crazy by opening his mouth.
    • Romney’s challenge will be to motivate the Republican base.  In the ridiculously long primary season, the fact that almost everyone has taken their turn at leading is a really bad sign for Romney.  It is almost an anyone but Romney attitude that might be hard for him to overcome.
    • Because of the above points, the chance of a last-minute third party run by someone seems good, but that would lose the election for the Republican, no matter who it is.
    • Really poor economy pre-election loses the race for Obama.
    • A war probably loses the election for Obama also.
    • Even an illusion of a good economy seals the election for Obama
    • All of this is completely negated by major unforseen circumstances, which will probably happen.
  • Come Summer no one will be occupying anything
  • Summer will see revitalized Tea Party activity
  • Immigration will be an even bigger issue than last year

World Events

  • I hope that I am wrong–A terror attack on US soil which will involve attackers getting here via Mexico.  This will spark a major tense discussion of border issues.
    • As I see it Game Theory-ed out, this is in the terrorists best interests.  Although my experience has taught me that the formidable-ness of this particular opponent is definitely not in their thoughtfulness, this seems in their best interest.  We have taken the fight to them.  Al Qaida is mostly wiped out.  I have read several articles regarding this, and they have recently raised the idea of negotiating with us (through the Taliban).  In radical islamic strategy, this is the step to take when one is on his heels.  Attacking the US homeland would make sense.  Further, in bringing it from Mexico (also easier to sneak in that way) it would create an internal fight in the US.  With a huge percentage of the population being illegally from Mexico, and without allegiance to the US, it would create turmoil.  If I were a strategiest for them, I would be looking at that idea.  This is the type of process that I go through in determining all of my guesses.
  • I am praying that there is a constitutional backlash against the dangerous laws that have been passed to curtail citizens’ rights for the sake of security.  This combined with the above could cause massive chaos politically in the US.  This might be beneficial in the long run, but won’t be fun.
  • Military action involving Iran.  It won’t be pretty.  If it doesn’t happen, look for massive war in the future.  If it does happen, there might be war now.  Further, this would seriously hurt the US economy.  This will be an important moment for Obama.  If he allows conflict with Iran it hurts the economy and is another war.  These are the 2 things that would prevent his re-election.  If he doesn’t push Iran, then it will probably cause big problems for the US and our allies into the future.
  • North Korea will stay totalitarian communist.  It is in China’s best interest.  Though it could be a tense year for the two Koreas.

Pop Culture

  • Lady Gaga gets involved in even weirder stuff.  I know that this seems like a non-prediction (like saying there will be weather), I am serious.
  • Facebook will lose users for the first time in its history.
  • The world will not end in December.  No planet will pass near the earth.  There will be no magnetic pole shift.  But pop culture will get really obnoxious about the end of the world as you know it by year’s end.  There will be a movie or two.
  • The summer movie season will be populated by even more over-hyped action junk than usual.  There will also be a much higher rate of raunchy comedies. -Ryan

    Leading the Story in the 21st Century

    Narrative HeaderStar Wars and Narrative

    I recently bought the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD.  Together, the people in my household have been watching them one by one.  Unbelievably, everyone under my roof have not seen these movies up until now, except for me.  I have had to explain how one could not truly understand American culture until a person has seen—no experienced–those movies.

    Most Americans have not only seen the Star Wars movies, they have memorized them.  But I’ll even take it a step further.  Most people have in some way become a part of the Star Wars narrative.  They have bought the merchandise, dressed up as a character a time or two, had some sort of light saber battle, and/or had some sort of theater experience.

    My Mom was pregnant with me when she saw the first movie.  I saw the re-releases at a giant theater in southern California at midnight, where most people were dressed up and reciting the lines with the characters onscreen.  Star Wars is a part of my story.  It’s in my blood.

    The reason why this is compelling is not because 1970’s special effects are still cutting-edge, or because no movies since have come close to that level of dialogue and character development.  It is because Star Wars is great narrative, or maybe even the best narrative.  That is what compels people to see it.  But I’m not just talking about the story on screen.  The greatness of the narrative has surprisingly little to do with the plot of the movies themselves.

    Yes, the actual story in the movies is great, which is part of what fueled the original success, but there is far more than that.  There are the special features-type stories of where the characters came from, how the ships were built, and even how Lucas came up with novel ideas for filming.  People knew these stories long before home movies were even around.  But beyond that there are stories of “where I first saw…” and memories of all the times that each person somehow interacted with the idea behind Star Wars.  Star Wars is not a movies series, or even a brand.  Star Wars is a story…and it is all part of our stories.  And that is what sets Star Wars apart.

    Star Wars is not peculiar in this regard, it is just a great example.  There are other movies, TV shows, books, and even events.  Nor is this a new phenomenon.  What is new is how communications technologies have transformed the popular consciousness and ways of processing information to make this concept of narrative far more important than ever before.

    The Revolution in Culture

    But the same point about movies is true about companies, products, and political candidates.  Truly, the world is nearing the end of a revolution in communication, a revolution that has changed very fundamental parts of the way people think and act, and ultimately is very good.  But, like any revolution, those who can’t evolve and those who refuse to understand will be left far behind.

    You can see the revolution all around you.  You see it when you realize that movie blockbusters get people to wait in line for hours to sit through a brief film that won’t affect their lives all that much, while no one waits in line to hear a sermon on Sunday morning.  People flock to Lady Gaga concerts, when no one would suggest that she is the best musician on the scene.  But beyond these examples, the viral videos and memes of the Internet all become part of the lingua franca of our culture.  The evening news reports of riots in Egypt have been largely replaced by youtube videos and tweets of the average people there.  Story has become not only the message, but the way that messages are communicated, and the way they are absorbed.

    Why is this the case?  It is because people crave the narrative.  People think in story.  A good story will draw people much better than a sermon about “3 ways to be a better dad.”  People love the narrative of Lady Gaga much more than her music.  Story motivates, enthralls, and ultimately inspires action.  And it is this concept that will either be a key to success for future leaders and motivators, or guarantee failure in the new social setting of the 21st century.

    The 2008 Election

    This is why people like Barak Obama and even Sarah Palin have seen success in the last few years.  The election of 2008 was a lock for Obama long before any votes were actually cast.  It had nothing to do with race, or even hatred of Bush.  It was really all due to one simple fact: Barak had a compelling narrative that people felt a part of, and McCain had none.

    Remember the election?  Barak Obama stood for hope and change.  He stood for people chanting “Yes we can!”  He was the mixed-race son of an immigrant.  He talked a lot about what he believed and what we could achieve, and seldom talked about how we could do it.  What was his economic plan?  What was his health care plan?  How was he going to extricate us from Iraq and win in Afghanistan?

    This isn’t to put him down.  It wasn’t that he didn’t have a plan, or even that his plan wasn’t any good.  Those issues don’t matter to his success, and didn’t matter to those voting for him in the election.  He wasn’t elected on his ideas.  He was elected on his narrative.  That is also the reason why people react to criticism of Obama with such rabid ferocity.  To attack his idea is to attack the narrative, and the narrative is not just his story, it is theirs.  That is why they wear his face on T-shirts, buy magazines and books with him on the cover, and give him Nobel Peace prizes before he’d accomplished anything.

    What was McCain’s narrative?  He actually has a great one.  He’s a warrior from Vietnam who spent years being abused in a POW camp.  He is also a long time warrior with results in the Senate.  But during the election, he suppressed all of that in order to focus on the whats and hows of the issues.  When the recession hit hard, he suspended his campaign to come up with ideas to fix it.  That was very admirable, but it further removed him from the story.  Further, although the memory of Vietnam is still rather fresh for many Baby Boomers, it is not the narrative of the last 20+ years, and it certainly could not have been the central narrative of the 2008 election.

    When election day came, people did one of three things.  Some voted for Sarah Palin’s narrative.  They marked McCain’s name, but it was the narrative of Sarah Palin that motivated them (look at the polling for McCain before and after her entry to the scene).  Some voted against Barak Obama, for one reason of another.  But many more than either of those two groups joined in the Obama narrative.  Barak won decisively.

    Narrative in 2010

    In the 2010 election, the story was reversed.  The narrative now was all about a “Tea Party.”  New leaders had arisen, talking about fiscal responsibility, and tying their stories to the story of the founding of the country.  They adopted the American story as their own, and called people back to the ideas that America was originally built on.

    Speakers for the Conservative movement started talking about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Constitution.  The message was pretty simple, American exceptionalism as a kind of gospel, the Founding Fathers as apostles and martyrs, and the Tea Party leaders as evangelists of this new gospel.

    Average Americans were showing up at rallies and speeches, joining the new narrative with their own.  No longer was the message about what one was being told by Rush Limbaugh.  Now people were calling Rush Limbaugh to tell what happened in their city, and they were posting photos on Facebook and hash-tagging it on Twitter.  The Mainstream media and liberal commentators were trying to stop it by using terms like “Tea-baggers,” but they were playing into the very hands of the movement.  They were simply adopting the narrative.

    The Democrats had no counter.  They had no narrative.  Health care reform had passed.  They were in charge.  There was no compelling story to sell, and no story was told.  The base was barely engaged in the election.  Even Liberal veterans in states like California were afraid, and digging their claws in to hold on.

    The election was a landslide.  The story was believed and it motivated people to go to the polls and vote for their favorite story that now included them.  The incredible momentum of 2 years ago now seemed like a political eternity.

    He Who Tells the Story…

    Narrative is now the main force in American politics.  In a way it always has been, but now the image-makers and strategists cannot ignore it.  The winners of elections and the leaders with true influence will be the ones who control the narrative, and even more importantly include the average voter in that storyline.  The money and power of elections will be not the ones who spend the most on TV ads and bumper stickers, but the ones who leverage social media, viral video, and who tell the most compelling story.

    This is because these media are where the narrative is being communicated, and further where the whole tale goes viral, where it joins with the people’s own story.  Facebook for instance, will not be nearly as important as just another type of billboard or position statement, but as a way to interact, and hand the baton of the story off to the community.  Successful leaders must think conversation more than TV ad.  For when Sarah Palin puts up a message on Facebook, people hear it.  But when someone comments on the message she just put up, in a real way now they feel as though they have entered into the conversation with Sarah Palin, and their friends are all now included.

    This is not to say that money on print and TV ads will not be important.  On the contrary, those who don’t get their story told to the biggest possible audiences will have no ability to control the narrative or include others in it.  Nor does the focus on social media mean that money can simply be thrown into these technologies in the same way that they are thrown into TV and print.

    The real center of power, and money-making potential will be in crafting the narrative and handling the exchange between one way communication and conversation.  The challenge will be in making the message  become a story, and making the candidate’s story become the people’s story.  And the ability to control and manage that narrative will be the difference between the future John McCains and the Barak Obamas. -Ryan

    For further research on this, watch this incredible lecture by Simon Senek on Ted.com

    Radio Talk

    Radio Talk

    In High School, shortly after Bill Clinton was elected President, I discovered Rush Limbaugh and talk radio.  I have been a regular listener every since.  In recent years I have become a little bit more picky about whom I listen to, filtering out those who seem to be mere spin-doctors and mouthpieces.  Yet still sometimes my car is playing a CD, but just as often it is tuned to AM talk.

    Currently, the big topic of talk radio discussion has been the current TSA screening procedures and scanning machines.  Today I heard Rush Limbaugh loudly telling America that we must not stand for this personal intrusion into our lives, that we must fight back.  He wasn’t telling people to take up arms, but that we needed to push back against our government in order to protect our freedom.

    It is very true that we must be constantly vigilant to protect our personal freedoms, especially from a government that is always expanding and looking for more power and control.  Governments will always look to expand and exert more hegemony over their people, and there is no better check against government domination than an ever-vigilant populace.

    Further, screeners putting their hands down people’s pants are a gross intrusion that is unacceptable.  Using terrorism as an excuse to confiscate personal liberty is an Orwellian nightmare that cannot be allowed in this country.  Our founding fathers warned us of this.  They even the Fourth Amendment into the bill of rights guaranteeing us that the government could not search us without probable cause.  This amendment is used to as precedent for things like the “right” to abortion, but is being ignored in this case, where the government is literally doing the thing prohibited.  Basically, Rush is right.

    But as I was listening, I started to wonder how Rush’s conversation might have been different if President Bush were still in charge.  There would have been people out protesting.  The blogs would be full of people CAPS-ing vitriolic about how “the regime” is destroying American’s freedoms.  Rush would be on air telling people that the government was doing all it could to prevent another attack on the homeland.  He would be comparing this to all that America had to do during World War 2, and showing that it was really nothing in comparison.  He would tell listeners that, ‘we are at war and there is an enemy putting bombs in their underpants, trying to kill innocent Americans.’

    The point is, that life is always more complicated than the pundits and partisans and talking heads would lead us to believe.  The TSA is staffed by people with advanced intelligence information that certainly includes ways that terrorists are actively trying to kill us.  All it would take is for some bombs to go off, and people would be crying out for more security and asking why these things weren’t done in the first place.

    While it seems that this is a gross intrusion on the government’s part, talk radio and others are constantly seeking to increase the volume and frenzy of political debate.  They do this not just for ratings, although that is certainly a motive, but also because their goal is to motivate the people into action against the opposing side.  Active people lead to desired change.  It is dramatic and functional.  It also makes for good radio.

    Unfortunately, riled and rowdy masses seldom act prudently.  Passionate people tend to pay attention to things that validate their world-view, and dismiss evidence to the contrary.  But it is pretty obvious that this is seldom an accurate picture.  In this case, while it seems clear to most people that this is a clear breach of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Americans, it is also obvious that there are strong indicators of impending terrorist threats that the government is straining to prevent.  While Americans must be vigilant in protecting freedom, we must enter into this conversation with the type of sobriety that people like Rush aren’t likely to give us.  -Ryan

    Presidential Controvercy – part 1

    Obama HeaderA couple of weeks ago, President Obama gave a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in support of Hispanic Heritage Month.  His remarks sent the blogs and talk shows all aflutter.  During his comments, which I have linked below, he talked about the great diversity of people that have always made up our country, saying:

    We didn’t always get along. But over the centuries, what eventually bound us together —
    what made us all Americans — was not a matter of blood, it wasn’t a matter of birth. It
    was faith and fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear. We hold these truths
    to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights:
    life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    What upset many people was the omission of the words “by their Creator” from Obama’s quotation of the Declaration of Independence, and that certainly is an area of concern.  I have heard commentators mention that Obama, who always uses a teleprompter when he speaks, hesitated very noticeably when it got to that part, proving that the “under God” was there, but he decided to remove it.  That argument is quite weak though, since it could have been missing from the prompter, and he could have been debating putting it in, but decided that the speech writers knew best.  All of this is extreme navel gazing of the sort that greatly annoys me.

    In my mind there are a few other much more significant issues about the speech in general, that need to be mentioned.  I will spend the next few blog posts explaining what I believe are the areas of real concern that the circumstances of this speech should be bringing to the surface, starting with the very occasion for which his remarks were given.  But before we continue, consider taking the time to listen to Obama’s speech in its entirety.  It is one of his more eloquent and brief appearances.  The most controversial part is at 21:40.

    Malignant Segregation

    First of all, the whole [insert politically correct cause here] Heritage/History Month trend has got to stop.  For those of us who are not politically savvy enough, let us make up a fanciful illustration to illustrate the reality of how all this works.  The National Association for Annoying Political Correctness (known as the NAAPC), an advocacy group, gets together and brain storm ways of making more people pay attention to them.  The term advocacy group is usually just code language for a group of people who want more political power.   Like a 3 year old child, the worst thing that any advocacy group can imagine is to be ignored.  They are like fairies from Neverland, if you say you don’t believe they exist, they die.  They can only be revived by clapping.

    So the NAAPC realizes that they need to be creative and do what every other advocacy group is doing, which is to create their own holiday.  There was a period of time in the late 80’s and early 90’s when they all came up with their own day to celebrate.  The NAAPC had Shove Through Ur Politics Day (STUPD) in ’91 and ’92, but soon after, they followed all of the other advocacy groups and expanded to a whole month.

    All they had to do in order to get 1/12 of a year of attention instead of 1/365 was to send out a press release and print a few thousand free promotional calendars with the dates on them.  It all happened quickly, despite a few intense meetings on what to call the 25th of December, instead of Christmas.  They settled on Cold Celebration of Things Inoffensive. They were originally going to call it Winter Celebration, but people got upset that the other seasons weren’t included.  Kwanza made the cut, but the dates for Hanukah were removed entirely, leaving only blank calendar squares.

    The news media was all too happy to do a whole series of stories about PCHM (Politically Correct History Month) because the Democratic National Committee was only producing enough material for 15 minutes of the newscast.  So they only did the weather twice during the half hour broadcast (instead of the usual 3 times) and cut out the stories about Rocky the water-skiing squirrel, and why you shouldn’t leave your pets in the car when it is 100 degrees outside.   This left a full 15 minutes of each newscast to advertise Politically Correct History Month.

    Suddenly the entire country was celebrating a whole month of Political Correctness as if it had been handed down by the Holiday Gods.  Hallmark was even making some cards for people to buy, and the NAAPC had a few big parties to celebrate, which they bankrolled with all the new donations coming in.

    Back to reality:

    The NAAPC is fake, but the situation is all too real.  These organizations aren’t trying to be malevolent.  They are catering to their own interests.  That, my friends is why every month is now covered by some special interest group, telling you about their history.  My personal favorite is Women’s History Month, which isn’t really about the history of women, or it would be all about how an egg got fertilized in the first place, Eve, and evolution.

    So here is Barak Obama giving a speech about how we are unified, while at a meeting of only Hispanic people, talking about Hispanic issues, for a holiday invented by people who want more attention for Hispanic causes.  Keep in mind, I am not anti-Hispanic.  I am anti special interests.  If a group is being seriously abused, minority unity is important to get past the repression.  But in all circumstances, special interest groups exist to separate themselves from the bulk of the population and segregate.  If you don’t believe me, listen to where the applause is during the speech.  The cheering does not come when Obama talks about unity.  The people applaud when he says “Mexico.”  Crowds are actually pretty easy to psychoanalyze.  They cheer for the things they are committed to, and boo or ignore the things they aren’t.

    The words of the Declaration say,

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…[skipping to the end] And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

    So, Obama’s speech at the Hispanic Caucus was troubling not just for its omission of God, but for its catering to a continued idea that celebrating America’s diversity is best accomplished by segregating its citizenry. We won’t be truly diverse when every interest has its own day, or month, or colored ribbon.  We will be truly diverse when no one desires any of those things at all.