You know I actually kind of agree with this
This wasn’t entirely conservatives’ fault, he wrote—the story of, say, a destitute family’s eviction from its apartment made for better copy than the explanation of why rent control was a bad idea from a societal perspective. But conservative writers, he argued, had themselves to blame, too. They were bad at telling stories. Operating forever in the shadow of National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., they had spent half a century honing their rhetorical chops on the romantic notion that an argument, framed eloquently and forcefully enough, could change the course of history. Worse, these arguments tended to be advanced in right-wing publications that made little effort to attract a general audience, devolving into an exercise of limited interest to anyone not already locked inside the echo chamber.
Friedersdorf had a different idea in mind. “I’m not sure another Buckley’s what we really need,” he wrote. “Instead, I’d prefer another Tom Wolfe, or better yet a dozen. As his generation’s conservative commentators railed against The Great Society, insisting its urban anti-poverty programs encouraged radicalism, bred dependence on the welfare state, and ignored the root causes of unemployment, Mr. Wolfe did something different: reporting.” Wolfe had gone to the conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein’s cocktail party, watched Park Avenue’s finest flatter themselves by sharing hors d’oeurves with Black Panthers, and wrote about it in scathing detail, first in New York magazine—the cover featured three white socialites in glittery cocktail dresses with raised fists—and later in Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers.
I see Friedersdorf’s name mentioned occassionally, usually by The Other McCain and at Ace of Spades. in derisive tones, but I have never knowingly read anything by or about him before., so I was a little surprised to find myself agreeing with him. He is right though, it’s much easier to tell the story from the left’s perspective when that story is about a couple going bankrupt to pay for cancer treatment, or a family in DC feeling scared because of the heavily armed drug dealer down the block. When people read those stories they don’t care about moral hazard or foundational freedoms, they see a wrong that needs to be corrected. That is where the right falls down, not in making it’s arguments. Most people don’t care about the arguments they care about the stories.
The Other McCain disagrees, while discussing a related story, arguing that the point isn’t to be accessible but to win elections. He misses the point when he says that. To win elections conservatism has to be accessible. McCain also misses the point on PA-12 which he attempts to tie in with this story –
I certainly agree, and have witnessed this phenomenon first-hand. I’ve been amazed at the difficulty in the past few weeks of getting conservatives to pay attention to the PA-12 special election. Here is a chance to take a seat away from Nancy Pelosi — to give the Democrats a good punch in the nose — and yet it hasn’t gotten nearly the kind of attention that Scott Brown got four months ago.
Some of us were discussing this Friday evening in Pennsylvania, and various explanations were offered. OK, it’s a congressional election — one of 435 seats — as opposed to a Senate seat. And there is not the kind “41st vote” factor here, as there was in Massachusetts in January. Neverthless, PA-12 is the only actually election (i.e., not just a primary) on Tuesday, and you’d think conservative New Media would be fired up and focused. But they’re not, at least not like they were in January.
There are a few reasons for that I think and one of them is that there isn’t a compelling story. This is just another GOP / Dem slugfest. Nothing special about it. The Brown election had an unknown going for the Kennedy seat, and possibly stopping a (relatively) new and popular President’s agenda in it’s track. That generated interest. It also generated disappointment. Brown wasn’t able to kill Health Care Reform and his votes since then have been upsetting to many. The compelling story died, and with it interest in elections like PA-12. (Actually the story started to die with Hoffman in NY, but that’s another issue.)
The London School of Economics is now offering a Bachelors in Economics online. Total cost $5000. Harvard is offering a Bachelors in Liberal Arts online cost $32000. Which is the better deal? (Stumbled across this last night from Youtube.com/edu)