One area in which progressives destroy conservatives is their ability to capitalize on polarizing incidents. As soon as a story makes national headlines, progressives jump on it as a way to prove their pre-held beliefs. Many times, this turns out to be a good tactic. If we’ve learned anything from the last month, we know how well progressives have capitalized on the murder of George Floyd. Calls for defunding the police have garnered actual support in major US cities. More Americans believe in the concepts of institutional racism and implicit bias than ever before. Of course, there are times where jumping immediately to the worst possible conclusion backfires on the progressive movement, like the case of Jussie Smollett, but these cases never do any harm to the progressive movement once they are proven to be false. It always is in the progressives’ best interest to jump on a story as soon as it drops as the publicity generated from the initial story is always more than the fallout from the reveal.
But it’s not just in areas of police brutality and racism where progressives use an incident to push an agenda. The 2008 economic collapse brought about enormous Wall Street reform. Somehow, they were able to take the failure of the Affordable Care Act and use it to argue for a national healthcare system. And of course, whenever there is a mass shooting, a national discussion inevitably ensues to debate United States gun policy.
So why are conservatives so bad at this? Why can’t conservatives take an incident and turn it into their own national discussion? I don’t understand why conservatives can’t use the current conversation on police brutality to show the importance of the second amendment. For decades, the whole argument to preserve the right to bare arms was to give citizens the ability to fight back against a tyrannical government. If the perception is that the government, represented by the police, is inexplicably murdering innocent black men, or that the police are too heavily funded and citizens are in more danger from them than they are protected by them, why aren’t gun activists using this outrage and mentality to further their pro-gun-ownership agenda?
I don’t just mean talking about this as an aside to the racism debate on a talking head radio show. I’m talking about major pro-gun players taking to the streets and beginning to change minds - especially in the black community - about the right to own guns. Where is the NRA? Why aren’t they organizing public outcry about this? I am in no way a subscriber to the “silence is violence” mentality, but that’s for people who are generally silent about issues. However, for organizations that always have something to say when it comes to a gun debate, their silence when there’s a golden opportunity to push the same talking points makes you wonder about their motivations. This, indeed, is the one instance where silence may in fact be violence. The NRA (and gun owners, more broadly) can offer a possible solution for those who think the police are out slaughtering people: They can proactively explain why the second amendment is so important, and why those who want to be able to defend themselves against a tyrannical government should be in favor of lawful gun ownership. Of course, this will obviously lead to the media claiming that the NRA wants people to murder police, but that’s only because we live in a time when hypocrisy isn’t vilified as much as it’s applauded.
It’s weird that whenever there’s an attack on any conservative view, proponents are out there defending the view, but when the opportunity presents itself to further an agenda and reach new audiences, conservatives balk at the opportunity. It’s almost as if it’s directly written into the name “conservative.” Naturally, conservatives conserve their beliefs. They don’t try to broaden their reach. Broadening is for those new-fangled progressives, what with their progress and whatnot. Conservatives don’t look to bring new voices and wider audiences into the fray; they look to conserve what they already have. As any business owner will say, you can either try to expand or watch yourself fall backwards. That’s the direction of the conservative movement: backwards. It’s not a movement if the movement is in the wrong direction.
This wrong-direction movement, in turn, allows progressives to peck away at conservative values to the point where what used to be progressives talking points are now widely considered mainstream rulings; they are now so engrained in the American way of life that they are impossible to change. It happened to same-sex marriage. It happened to abortion. It’s happening to healthcare as we speak. And if conservatives don’t get their act together, guns will be next. Conservatives have to learn to be progressive in their messaging, and not just play defense when something they hold dear comes under attack. The apropos sports cliché here is “the best defense is a good offence.” Conservatives have no offense and are leaving everything in the hands of their defense. But eventually, even the best defense succumbs to a decent offense.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.