C. K. Hartman

Iowa Democrats, talk less about ALEC and more about people’s lives

Mar 29, 2017

I see no advantage at all

In spending any time on ALEC. It muddles the message, it’s jargon, it’s alienating and will probably make the listener feel stupid or bored. Again: your audience is not your well-informed friends who just need a couple more pieces of the puzzle. Your audience is the 80-90% of the population who hate politics and government and just want “to get home from work and veg out in front of the tube” in the immortal words of John Travolta in “Primary Colors.”

That movie was about Clinton, of course, a very successful politician. He had the ability to tailor his rhetoric to his audience. It doesn’t take much effort.

Thank you so much for your many efforts at the Capitol and elsewhere. I hesitate to lob criticisms at folk like you because you do all the heavy lifting in a thankless task and my hat is off to you. So I hope you will take this comment on board as a friendly amendment to your comment.

Iowa Democrats, talk less about ALEC and more about people’s lives

Mar 29, 2017

I'm sure your commitment is genuine

But your language makes you sound like a fanatic. Words like “invasion,” “hijack,” “masked forces,” and “enemies” are words normally associated with shooting wars and/or violence. We drain the meaning from these words when we apply them to ideas and policies with which we disagree.

I admit that it is true that people are being physically hurt and/or losing their lives due to policies such as indiscriminate bombing campaigns, privatizing Medicaid, and placing restrictions on abortion. But with people who don’t already agree with you, you have to walk them step-by-step through the chain of causality.

In any case, and I say this as a 20-year producer of what what I hoped was evidence-based political information and arguments, people do not respond *at all* to recitations of facts and statistics. Nor do they respond to extreme rhetoric like that in your post. What they do respond to, as desmoinesdem tried to lay out, is stories about real people and the impact that public policy has on them. People like you and me, who care about and follow and know a lot about government policy, are roughly one to two percent of the population.

Also, people do not like being told that their lives are “wretched.” People have struggles, to be sure, but no one wants to be seen as a “wretch.”

Finally I don’t think you have to ask permission to post a guest column (correct me if I’m wrong desmoinesdem).

Iowa Democrats, talk less about ALEC and more about people’s lives

Mar 29, 2017

Filter bubble in action

And I know from filter bubbles. I used to live in one, marinating all day in online progressive outrage. (I also used to live in Boston.) Before attending a public Q&A with any legislator, progressive activists ought to seek out the most conservative and/or the most uninformed or uninterested-in-politics person they know and try out their rhetoric on them.

You’re absolutely right that this sort of self-righteous know-it-all-ism (and again, I’m as guilty as the next guy) is harming our cause. Great post.

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