by Rob Yates
LPNC Communications Director
Last month I shared some of my broad observations after serving as your Communications Director for a year. This month, in part 2, I have a few more-concentrated things that I want to share, and I hope to spark some further conversations. There is one final part to this, coming next month.
Some specific observations on communication
Perhaps the biggest specific thing I've noticed over the last year in observing interaction between Liberty-minded folk and those who aren’t wired quite the same is that we aren't speaking the same language. Same alphabet, same words, sure. Even the same definitions (though not always). But not the same meaning, and this is crucial.
"Woke," "racist," "fascist," "groomer," and a whole host of other "verboten" words, are leveled in accusations of the greatest sin the accuser can imagine. Repeatedly, words are used to dehumanize those who don't share our perspective exactly. Pure (in their own minds) morality is the reward as these words provide absolution when a friendly cohort hears you say them, like a religious chant. And so they are beaten into the ground with misappropriation, overuse, and weaponization, until they are worthy of nothing more than an eye roll, maybe, in objective reality.
Yet these words and others like them hold substantial power in certain places where they are still uttered like a medieval curse at the heretics who dare not share the same religious convictions. Libertarians should not bend to these words that carry only the weight of the reactions they cause that we are willing accept, nor should we acquiesce to the demands of the missionaries who wield them.
However, we are foolish if we ignore the power some words have in the right place. We are prone to confusing being principled with speaking someone else’s language, and this makes it extra difficult to build inroads.
See, to get to that beautiful place where politicians are so inconsequential that no one wants to pay for their campaigns, we will need to change a lot of hearts and minds. And we can, if we work for it. We have the better message and application of our philosophy leads to better outcomes for everyone. Our Achilles heel is willingness to message to the audience. We have long been willing to respect and fight for everyone’s rights to have differing viewpoints. No we need to embrace the people who have those viewpoints, even as we categorically reject their current philosophy, and trust that we will win them over in the end.
If you want to find sympathetic ears to spread our message, you have to put aside all ego, ignore your argumentative impulses (something else I learned about Libertarians – wow, do we love to argue!), and revive the art of communication. Gaining someone's trust, deservedly, leads to more engaging conversations where the best ideas flourish on their own merit. I like our chances in that setting.
Our approaches to communicating and sharing our language have not led to anywhere near the level of effectiveness that we need to drive any sort of meaningful changes over time. To me, this clearly means we need to change our approach, dramatically.
Maybe a little bit of sympathetic understanding, or even undeserved compassion and forgiveness would itself present such a stark, but positive, contrast with how the other two parties operate that fear of reprisal would dissipate and more people would start speaking or language fluently. You don’t have to affirm actions you find wrong, or even pretend to like people. You just have to give them the benefit of the doubt, even when they might not seem to deserve your faith.