Acton Institute Powerblog

When It Comes To Messaging, The Left Gets It (And We Don’t)

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

The passage of Obamacare in 2010 remains one of the most contentious legislative battles in recent memory. It was such an “attractive” bill that in order to garner the final few votes needed for its victory President Obama had to promise certain senators that their states would be exempt from its regulatory measures. It was unpopular when it passed. It’s unpopular today.

But members of the progressive-Left in this country possess two specific qualities that enable them to move forward with their political and cultural agendas, regardless of the political or cultural climate:

1) They understand that messaging is everything

2) They’re willing to fight the “long war” for what they believe in

From The Hill:

The White House is working to recruit Hollywood celebrities to help promote ObamaCare, a top celebrity political adviser told The Hill.

Trevor Neilson, a veteran of the Clinton White House, said he’s in talks with the Obama administration and that his clients are “looking at ways to be involved.”

Neilson represents Eva Longoria, John Legend and many other stars as president of Global Philanthropy Group. His past clients have reportedly included Shakira and Madonna, and he has close ties to Bono and Bill Gates.

“I think the White House is very wise to identify partners to help market the Affordable Care Act,” Neilson said Tuesday.

“Just like any good product, when people are aware of the many benefits it provides, there will be increased demand.”

The story continues:

The Obama administration is working on ways to sell its signature healthcare law to the public over the next six months.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Monday that she’s in talks with the NFL to promote ObamaCare. The HHS has also reportedly reached out to the NBA.

Forget conservatives who believe in free enterprise and limited government – most religious Americans don’t have the vision and/or conviction to proselytize with such vigor on behalf of their theological beliefs as do progressive liberals when it comes to their political ones. I’m not implying that communicating Christianity (or even free market conservatism) should be modeled exactly after how the Left markets its own ideology. And clearly progressive dogma is easier to promote in sectors of society like the entertainment industry where, like a geometry equation, it is the “given” in most folks’ minds.

But the undeniable reality is this: we always lose the messaging battle. Always. Almost without fail. As Frederic Bastiat put it: “The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is not for it to be skillfully attacked, but for it to be ineptly defended.”

There are multiple (and multi-layered) reasons for why the United States is currently on such a determined march toward European-style socialism, but an inability to effectively communicate both the flaws in the Nanny State and the virtues of a “free and virtuous society” is tops on my personal list.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”  – 1 Peter 3:15

How many of us can actually explain our beliefs – political, theological, or otherwise? If we can’t explain them to our neighbor or co-worker, we’ll never be able to convince a nation of 300 million people?

R.J. Moeller R.J. Moeller is a writer and podcast host for the American Enterprise Institute's "Values & Capitalism" project. He's also a regular contributor at PJMedia.com and Acculturated.com. Originally from Chicago, he currently resides in Los Angeles, CA where he serves as a media consultant to nationally syndicated columnist and talk show host, Dennis Prager.

Comments