Sunday, August 2, 2015

How To Use Video For Political Purposes

This is NOT an abortion article, so read on. What this article is is an explanation of why videos like the Planned Parenthood video will never resonate with the public, and what conservatives need to do to change this.

In pointing out why the Planned Parenthood video will never resonate with voters, I received an email in which I was asked what chance the GOP has “if the media can discredit any video they want.” But this is a false assumption. The media can’t discredit any video. The problem lies with conservatives.

There are three fundamental problems....

1. Credibility

First, any video produced by a political group will always be dismissed by the public as propaganda. Even worse, however, the right lacks credibility with the public on certain issues, i.e. those on which the right has gone batsh*t crazy (the left has a similar problem on issues like crime and the military). So any video created by someone on the right will always be dismissed by the public out of hand as being a political hit piece if it deals with those issues.

What the right needs to learn is to make use of independent videos. A great example of this is the Ray Rice video from the NFL. Here was a video that wasn’t produced by any political group, yet it was visceral and it allowed the left to use the video to attack their enemies. The right needs to learn to make use of video gifts like this.

Now, I know that many of you are saying, “but there are never any videos like that which help our side!” But this is wrong. The truth is that there are tons of such videos, but (1) the right has failed to lay the groundwork to make them relevant, so most of these videos are wasted, and (2) the right has blinded itself to the existence of these videos because it has become obsessed with the home run. Observe.

2. Lay The Groundwork

The first huge problem with the right is that they never lay the groundwork.

When the Ray Rice video struck, it did not appear in a vacuum. It appeared after decades of the left laying the groundwork through political speeches, turning faked studies into news reports, inserting messages into “nonpolitical” films and books, repeating leftist mantra about abuse mindlessly on the net, and staying on point through every other prior incident. Hence, by the time the Ray Rice video appeared, the left had primed the public for decades to the idea that the world is full of violent young males who live to beat their wives and girlfriends and must be stopped by government... and here came visceral proof of that. So when they attacked, everyone on the left knew what to say and said it because they had been telling the same fairy tale for decades, and the public saw the video as confirmation of things they were already primed to believe.

By comparison, the right does none of that. The right avoids the culture. It has fled the newsrooms, except for openly conservative news organizations which are seen as hopelessly biased. It rarely goes online and when it does, it doesn’t interact with the public and it doesn’t talk politics; I’ve never seen a conservative Facebook meme. So when a video comes along which makes a conservative point, no one knows what to say about it, the information does not get passed along, it does not get repeated on Facebook or Pinterest, and there is no foundation through which people will understand and pre-interpret the event. Basically, it becomes a new event, rather than yet more confirmation of conventional wisdom.

The difference is huge. And that’s not all.

3. Use An Appropriate Strategy

The other problem is one of strategy. Once you get something like a video, you need to exploit it properly. The right does it all wrong.

Human nature, human history and psychology tell us that the only way to achieve anything in the real world when you need a consensus is incrementally. Indeed, the death of a thousand cuts is the only way to win in politics. The left gets this. So when a video like Ray Rice comes up, they don’t try to turn it into an all-or-nothing proposition, they instead try to move the ball a few inches. The goal is to keep getting a little more each time until they have everything they want.

In that particular case, the left got everyone repeating their narrative about domestic violence and they did their best to get the NFL to change their policies related to domestic violence, which they hoped to parlay into other Fortune 500 companies changing their policies as well... who would eventually lobby to change the law.

The right doesn’t get this. When they get a video, e.g. the Planned Parenthood video, they demand a knock-out punch. In fact, if you suggest something less than 100% attack RIGHT F**ING NOW! then you are written off as a RINO. And in doing this they (1) create the all-or-nothing scenario which cuts off the chance for any victory other than total victory... which can never happen, and (2) they alienate the public, who will tolerate giving an inch, but will never give a mile. In effect, they have guaranteed failure.

What’s more, this strategy encourages grandstanding, which lets the frauds (like Trump) sell themselves with promises they know are false, which only makes the all-or-nothing issue more intense. It also brings out the worst ambassadors for our side, who then blur their own obsessions along with the video and make it impossible to win because the public no longer sees the video as being about the content of the video so much as being about the usual political fights which they don’t care about. In effect, our tactics neuter the video.

This issue about going all-or-nothing also keeps the right from adopting winning strategies. Consider the Planned Parenthood video. The GOP is planning to shut down the government to try to defund Planned Parenthood to shut them down. It will never work. In fact, it will blow up on the GOP because the optics are: “Obsessed right wingers use heavily edited and discredited video to try to kill company that provides birth control to poor women.”

But imagine if they had instead used the tape as a reason to cut funding only by 5% or 10%. Cutting 5% or 10% will devastate them. Trust me. Any decrease is hard on a business, and something as big as a 10% cut means the end of capital improvements, no pay raises, lay offs, and cash flow problems. Do a 10% cut two or three years in a row and the business will need to restructure completely to survive. And the best part is the optics. In this case, the optics aren’t “evil Republicans trying to shut down Planned Parenthood,” it becomes “Democrats demanding increase in abortion funding” and “Democrats demanding more money for company that sold human fetus parts,” because it will be the Democrats in the media demanding an increase in funding. Look at how that shifts the debate. It makes the Democrats the ones who are making the demands, it makes it impossible to explain how this will hurt Planned Parenthood, and it puts them in the position of demanding more funding for something the public doesn't much like. That's a win.

But you can’t have that when you are only willing to swing for the fences.


ArgentGale said...

A well-put read, and an exasperating one at the same time, especially combined with the discussion on the previous article about Colorado. So how much damage do you think this is going to do and how long will it last?

- Daniel

AndrewPrice said...

Daniel, I just don't know.

On the one hand, "conservatism" is headed in the wrong direction. Almost every day, this group who call themselves conservatives, but really aren't ideologically speaking, push harder and harder into the world of twisted racist machismo. They are basically intent on reaching a point where there is only one of them left, waving his genitalia at everyone else and mocking all the rest of us for our lack of masculine purity.

(The latest example really drives this home with a racist wannabe machismo group of basement dwellers attacking conservatives as "cuckservatives.")

But on the other hand, the GOP seems to have moved beyond those people. They can still make headlines, as you see with Trump, but they are now basically politically irrelevant. So in that regard, things are changing for the better. I'm just not sure that the GOP understands how conservatism poisoned itself. So I'm not sure they know how to fix it. And until they fix it, groups like Planned Parenthood will continue along happily.

Of course, liberalism is no better off politically, but at least they get a lot of freebies from the right, which is keeping the left afloat.

This is an odd time.

tryanmax said...

On the point of laying groundwork, the left has been classifying conservatives as equal to reactionaries for long enough that not only do their own ranks believe it, but the proud reactionaries believe they are right wingers.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's very true. That is the new group of "genuine conservatives" -- reactionaries.

The problem with what the left does is that once you get enough "nonpolitical" people repeating the same thing, it becomes conventional wisdom among the people who don't think too hard about it. That's why they are often successful in their initial attacks.

The problem for the left is that what they want is looney tunes and contradictory and it implodes very quickly once put into action.

BevfromNYC said...

Yes, Andrew, we are distracted by the far-right who are exploited by everyone as "the crazies"...that includes the moderate-wing of Right, btw. It's not the videos so much as how the Liberal faction has the means to deftly create a "bigger" diversion...{see: Cecil the Lion over dead pre-born baby parts] which usually means finding the craziest of the crazies and making them the face of whatever the issue of the moment is. Why do you think that Donald Trump is so popular with MSM and poll takers?? He gets center stage because he looks nuts, he speaks nuts, he acts nuts and he is being branded as the Republican Party. And the Republican leadership let it happen. But come on, if it weren't Trump, it would have been Santorum or some other wingnut candidate getting center stage.

I have see this happen every single time a issue comes up. It's like the those submarine movies where they have to divert the sub out of the way of on-coming torpedoes - DIVERT [WAILING BLAST] DIVERT [WAILING BLAST] DIVERT!!!!! And Dems do this very well. The whole PP issue was a brilliant response to an obvious really bad P.R. issue - attack back/kill the messenger by ever means possible, (Twitter, HuffPo, MSNBC, mostly print media was told to completely ignore it.) then divert to the next issue and escalate and exploit it the maximum (see again: Cecil the Lion.) They even got a judge to halt any further video releases. Really quite brilliant actually. If it had been say a series of films of a conservatives eating a baby, the left would be screaming "FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS SHALL NOT BE BREACHED!!!"

I have seen this since the beginning of the Tea Party movement. The MSM and all of the liberal-minded media made it a point to only interview and commit to video the craziest people they could find, so they could use it to condemn the entire 50 million of us as "crazies". It didn't take long for the moderates to leave in frustration.

OT: Oh, btw, you know the guy who shot up the cartoon convention in Garland, Texas? Guess what? The gun he used was bought as part of a...wait for it....wait for it...Fast & Furious sting operation. Yeah, and you wonder why people are frustrated as hell and turning to that crazy-ass Donald Trump?

//end rant//

ScottDS said...

I’ve never seen a conservative Facebook meme.

I've seen a few but they're usually positive "Support the Troops"-type things (that shouldn't be partisan anyway).

Once in a blue moon, a religious friend will post a meme type of thing about the dangers of gay marriage but it doesn't remotely resemble the type of thing that usually goes viral (and it's usually by some local pastor anyway, and not a national organization).

And I Googled "cuckservatives" since I'd never seen the word. I have to ask, what the f---? :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, They are a bunch of losers who have mistaken their masturbation fantasies for reality and are now trying to bring it into politics.

On Facebook, the things is that you see tons and tons of leftist meme and they are rarely openly political: "I hate Bush!" type stuff. Instead, they just reinforce all the leftist themes already out there. The right never does that. There seems to be this belief on the right that politics and everything else are separate.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Again, that's because the right doesn't knew how to handle this. We don't engage in these tactics. Instead, we sit around and wonder why the videos we like get ignored.

If the PP video had been properly handled, then Cecil could never have distracted from it. But it was DOA, so distracting it with Cecil was easy.

In terms of distractions though, it happens to the left too. Look at hour the Confederate flag issue got washed away with the gay marriage ruling.

BevfromNYC said...

Yeah, the whole liberal "Occupy Democrats" memes are hysterical. And by "hysterical", I mean...actually hysteria-driven. I fight back by calling out my friends who post them, but that's just for sport. But those are for the truly closed minded who want to believe them. Most people on Facebook, aren't interested in reading that kind of crap anymore than they want to read the far-right anti-gay marriage/homophobic memes either.

So if you think that is a good way to fight, then I think you are mistaken. Oh, yeah, "the kids" are on Twitter now anyway. They can only concentrate140 characters at a time.

BevfromNYC said...

"...In terms of distractions though, it happens to the left too. Look at hour the Confederate flag issue got washed away with the gay marriage ruling."

No it didn''s just gone mainstream. Yeah, the NAACP has stepped up their game and now wants all remnants of the "Old South" just doesn't get center stage like Cecil the Lion right now.

BevfromNYC said...

And we continue to discount Trump because he's nuts, but for all of his nuttiness, his slogan is "Make America Great Again"...sound familiar?

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Politics is about momentum and the confederate flap lost its momentum. The NACCP can still whine about it, but the public gave it its 15 minutes and now they have moved on. They won't go back unless something new happens... like another shooter.

In terms of Facebook, the issue isn't putting out obvious political propaganda. That's the exact thing that doesn't work. What works are the vast number of other memes that adopt left wing ideas even as they appear to be apolitical and work them into the culture, like when you get a joke about the minimum wage or something which ends with a lampooning of one of our crazies. Those things reinforce everything the left sells and places like Facebook are crawling with those.

By comparison, there isn't a single meme about "black lives matter" or attacking Hillary or Sanders or even Biden's stupidity. They are untouched. Yet, there are memes out there building negative personality profiles of most conservatives.

Our side doesn't seem to grasp that giving people a conventional wisdom is much more influential than any sort of argument or video.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, Bev, while a lot of conservatives like to dismiss the kids as stuck at 140 characters, but the fault is ours if we can't communicate, not theirs.

Also, the truth is that they are no different than prior generations. Politicians have always sold their ideas in micro-sentences and slogans: "I like Ike," "A Chicken In Every Pot," "the New Deal!" "the Square Deal" "the Great Society" "A Shining City On the Hill". Not one of those is even close to 140 characters. That's just how it's done... always has been. Voters want a slogan they can understand, not lectures.

AndrewPrice said...

As for Trump, Trump is telling people what they want to hear. That always works on weak minds.

tryanmax said...

I see probably the same amount of liberal vs. conservative facebook memes. The big difference: liberal memes are followed by love-fests while conservative memes are followed by flame-wars.

EPorvaznik said...

When swinging for the fences actually connects like Reggie Jackson at the 1971 All Star Game, or Giancarlo Stanton in Dodgers Stadium earlier this year:

Points all rock, AP, but mocking the left, mercilessly, too much fun ... and occasionally gets results.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The few times I've seen conservative thoughts in this form, they have been accepted like every other meme without incident. But there are almost none out there.

(I'm talking about things that aren't political on their face.)

AndrewPrice said...

Nice work, Eric! LOL!

I have nothing against swinging away and mocking the left for fun. The right should be doing that too. But that is not a substitute for doing all the other stuff.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW, a perfect meme right now would involve the black players on the Philadelphia Eagles who are screaming racism, even as they are being replaced by other black players. That's the type of thing where you mock the player by exposing his insanely stupid false charge of racism, and in the process you build up "intellectual real estate" which gets people intuitively understanding that racism charges are very often faked.

AndrewPrice said...

BTW2: The right has occasionally produced things like this. One of the best memes ever was "Guns don't kill people, people do." That's become so engrained that you even see it used in different forms for different issues now.

BevfromNYC said...

Btw, I actually think we are doing well on Twitter. And doing with a great deal of humor.

But, I cannot fathom why there is going to be a "debate" this week?? Seriously, has there ever been a debate this early? My fear is that people are going to become so bored by July 2016, that the general voting public will all just shut down and not vote at all in November. But then the more that the Dems do their stuff, the more likely they will really step in it big time.

Hillary will be out with the next new email batch. The DNC is just waiting for the best time because at this point because Hillary is the only vagina they have and the others are old white men. {I predict this will happen when Joe Biden decides to join in the fun.} So they can't really run on being the party of Women and minorities, if all they can produce is old white men.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Twitter is one thing conservatives are embracing and doing quite nicely.

I don't understand the debate either. No one is paying attention, which I guess is a good thing.

Speaking of Hillary, did you see that the left is now trying to draft the CEO of Starbucks? She's perhaps the worst candidate I've ever seen.

EPorvaznik said...

I think guys like Andrew Klavan, Bill Whittle, Steven Crowder and especially AlfonZo Rachel provide an invaluable service when sharing their, er, edu-tainment clips as we used to call some product back in my Disney Interactive days, with the other side of the aisle (well, when Whittle's not spouting easily debunked inaccuracies in his latest clip, about military spending that is), no arguing it's not difficult reaching a wider audience because of the hole already dug, by both conservatives, notably by the far too many with money unwilling to invest in the pop culture wars, and a liberal media all too willing to mock and pigeonhole our side.

Kit said...

On slogans:

"Return to Normalcy." —Warren G. Harding (1920) after Wilson's quasi-fascist leadership of the US

"Patriotism, Protection, and Prosperity" —William McKinley (1896)

"Rum, Romanism and Rebellion." —Republican Party (1884) attacking the Democrats for being anti-temperance, pro-Catholic, and pro-rebellion (Confederacy). It back-fired BIG time.

"Vote as You Shot." —Ulysses S. Grant (1868)

"Don't Trade Horses Midstream." —Abraham Lincoln (1864)

"Vote Yourself a Farm." —Abraham Lincoln (1860), promoting the Homestead Act

"Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Men, Fremont" —Republican Party John C. Fremont (1856)

"54-40 or Fight" —James K. Polk, on the annexation of Texas and Oregon

"Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" —William Henry Harrison/John Tyler. The Battle of Tippecanoe was a battle that Harrison won in 1811.

Kit said...

"Our side doesn't seem to grasp that giving people a conventional wisdom is much more influential than any sort of argument or video."


Kit said...

Look up Generation Opportunity if you want to see the Right try to do this —and fail (miserably).

Kit said...

And this:

I have no idea where it started but it is full of liberals attacking conservatives for being "TOOPID!"

Now, if only conservatives could hijack this and use it to promote their ideas…

BevfromNYC said...

"Are You Better Off Than You Were 4 Years Ago?" and "It's Morning In America!" - Reagan

Kit said...

"For the People, for a Change." and "It's Time to Change America " —Bill Clinton

Which explains why he and Hillary hated Obama so much in 2008…

Post a Comment