by Steve Finefrock, founder Hollywood Conservative Forum
Our Western calendar declared a Year One with Christ’s birth. Seven centuries later, Muslims began their calendar with the Hijra, as the early Faithful trekked toward Medina. Thus this year is both 2009 and 1430. Ten-plus centuries further and our Founders’ successors, the Framers of the Constitution, submitted it to the Continental Congress for distribution to the states’ ratifying conventions, noting that year of 1787 was “of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth” year – in the final sentence of the original Constitution’s final article. Thus another ‘year’ designation, for American fans of the Constitution’s seminal meaning, is 238.
We abandoned that practice as a nation, though some democrats’ adoration of FDR may lead them to declare this as Year 76 in their ‘calendar’ – or for JFK’s honorific, it should become Year 48. But there’s Obama The One [OTO] in whose honor this twelve-month sojourn might be Year One! Just like the commies declared the year of the Russian Revolution to be their Year One.
For conservatism, there might soon be a second Year One, as a new generation is forming beneath the political landscape ground’s surface. Our first is either with Goldwater’s symbolic loss in ’64, or Reagan’s Revolution [RRevolution?] leading him to office in ’81. Twenty-nine years later, the shake out and shake down and shaking all around in the GOP will leave us new faces and new voices, to promote and broadcast and brand and elucidate very classic, very established but not ‘old’ ideas, that still sustain us who are hard-core conservatives.
As we plan and plot and scheme and organize to challenge OTO’s legions of smug, certain, slimy acolytes, consider that we might be a bit more aware of how to behave a bit better. It would begin by noting that LEADERSHIP IS TEACHERSHIP and with that is an old rule of education: REPETITION IS THE SOUL OF PEDAGOGY.
A third rule: GOOD IDEAS NEED VIRAL TRANSMISSION, like the flu, put into the flue of the furnace/fireplace of political discourse. This last season saw many catchy and ‘sticky’ pithy quotes, but issued usually only once, by its originator, with nary a notice by others of our ilk. It’s as if the motto was: Ain’t gonna use if it ain’t my clever saying!
The list is long of ‘one time pad’ utterances by many clever conservatives, like it was a special ‘code’ that could be used only by its originator, and not another conservative using his or her airtime or op-ed space to repeat it to a different audience, at a different time, on a different channel, in a different publication. It contrasts with the 2000 campaign ‘unity’ of the left, including their media mavens, who damned near wore a rut into the body politic with the query, “Does Bush have sufficient gravitas to be president?”
Not said once, or even twice; not by one uttering mouthpiece, but by dozens, over a full week-plus. Thus, it penetrated the minds and thoughts of the general public. It crept into ‘straight’ news stories as well – albeit, because it fit their agenda, of course. The voter couldn’t find a tunnel deep enough to escape that mantra.
This concern comes from reading Stu Stevens’ book, “The Big Enchilada” where in he notes agreement with a fellow on the Bush campaign in 2000:
“We shared a mutual dislike for the way politics had evolved – the pretensions, the bitterness, the people who wanted to be something more than do something.”
Need we think of our latest selfish, mendacious, narcissistic ‘brother’ from Pennsylvania? This behavior trait is not limited to Specter. Many media conservatives just plain would not repeat – in ‘gravitas’ like insistence and persistence – a good line created by another conservative. Total narcissism run amok.
As we prepare to be serious in the coming Year One of Modern Conservatism, it is useful to ‘reverse-share’ all good ideas – that is, the originator doesn’t share it, but all the rest of us pick it up and run with it, in every venue, every day, for at least a week. Like the move “Pass It Forward” – all good deeds, and good phrases, deserve passing along. This fits with another Stevens observation:
“And though campaigns are a billion-dollar-plus industry, they are probably, as a group, some of the most mismanaged, inefficient businesses in the world.”
As noted often by many advertising gurus in the commercial-business world, at least 70% of political advertising is wasted [maybe 90%]; but as a famous ad client said in the ‘50s, we can’t tell which fraction is the wasted part. In ‘earned media’ where there’s no bill submitted to the candidate or party, we should be aggressively certain, at every opportunity, that any good statement, phrase, concept or joke gets DISTRIBUTED OVER AND OVER AND OVER!
Learning theory insists that learning begins after one’s heard the thought, word, number or concept at least THREE TIMES, and for some folks it’s even more frequent, for it to soak in. And for the classroom that number is conservative – where the ‘students’ are not confined to the class and the teacher’s demand for attention, such in TV lounges of home or office, you have to hammer it home even more often. Thus the reason no ad – political or commercial – runs just once, or even three or four times.
Percolating and gestating below the surface of our political landscape is the New Modern Conservative Generation. The most visible, effective and personable of them are Ari Fleischer and Dana Perino. Others are emerging, from a bright 13 year old lionized at CPAC, to a 27 year old Congressman who knows well what Plays In Peoria. And a Modern Hollywood Conservative whose challenge is like Stevens’ line about “going into a lion’s den wearing porkchop panties.” Their emergence is more important than the rise of talk radio and Fox News Channel. For they are prepared to enter into the arena, ready to get bloodied and battered.
And their young minds hold ideas which are OUR ideas – not ‘new’ but due to be re-freshed, re-branded, re-stated, re-framed. For a good ideas must be made palatable, and understandable, especially Conservatism. For Conservatism Isn’t For Wimps. It’s tougher to sell than “let me give you something for free” – educating the public that there ain’t no free lunch is a far tougher chore.
But vital as OTO makes this his Year One of a New BO-tox order, as Barack Obama’s toxic asses threaten all that Reagan tried to build. The economy, the military [including his enchanting SEAL budget], cultural issues, the Court, et al – are coming under this FDR-Fourth Wave attack. [First, FDR; second, JFK/LBJ; third, Clinton; now OTO makes it fourth time around the socialist May Day maypole.]
This weekend’s death of Jack Kemp is another emblem of losses from conservatism’s older ranks, after last year’s Milton Friedman, Wm. F. Buckley and Tony Snow. Tony was on the cusp, straddling the older conservative voices and his proteges who are now coming aboard, such as Perino. By time the New Year arrives, the little shoots now gaining strength under the surface will be sprouting in the sunlight. This cadre of Modern Conservative voices and faces will take up the relay baton, from Disraeli to Madison to Lincoln to Hayek to Goldwater and Friedman, to Reagan, and now to show – one more time, sadly – that LIBERALISM AIN’T WHAT AMERICA IS ABOUT.
But the public must be reminded – EDUCATED – and done so OFTEN and repeatedly. We cannot afford to let a clever bon mot enter the political consciousness of the public only one time, in one place, by one voice, to a single small audience. Conservatives must practice that ‘gravitas’ strategery of the dems in ’00, and REPEAT and re-shape and re-state our basic corps ideas. For we are the corps of conservatism, but conservatism is a tough sell – it is the protein of politics, compared to the carbs of liberals. Harder to digest, but burns longer and brighter in the body politic’s metabolism.
Conservatism is the natural ‘default’ view of Americans – proven time after time, in poll after poll, survey after survey. But they need to be reminded, often and with competence, and of course with repetition. And, again, with competence: we need leaders who are more concerned for the cause than with their own egos. A tough sell, for politics is filled with folks who want to be something, rather than do something, to effectively achieve a substantive national goal.
If you hear a great line, joke, anecdote, illustration by a conservative and hear it only once, from its originator, then you are seeing the petty, jealous conservative voices that are so-so-tired. When you hear a second, then a third, then a fourth, then ten and then twenty repetitions of the same notable, quote-worthy concept or phrase, then you know we are growing up.
And didn’t Goldwater tell us, in his Year One, to grow up
copyright 2009 Steve Finefrock
Finefrock is founder of Hollywood Forum, a speaker-bureau and panel-discussion vehicle to “Bring the Potomac to the Palisades” on issues that overlap politics and culture with the Hollywood film-TV influence on such national concerns. His scripts have addressed politics [including a TV series pilot/bible package about state political combat, called "A State of the Union"], hazardous materials [from twelve years in emergency management, including six years managing FEMA's Superfund curriculum for hazmat], terrorism, equestrian reincarnation, serial murderer killing journalists in the nation’s capitol, and fantasy about time-wasters. Finefrock is proprietor of PhoneBooth: The Smallest Space in Hollywood…