Republicans have mastered one of the oldest forms of argument and they continue to pulverize every opponent with it.
You don’t have to take a “Debate 101” course to effectively use the ‘Republican technique’ -- it is given to us at birth. When a child requests an afternoon chocolate chip cookie from his mother, the response is typically, “No; not until you eat your dinner.”
The retort from the child is simple yet annoyingly effective, “Why?”
It won’t matter how many ‘answers’ the mom offers, the child will persist with “Why’s” until hopefully, she teeters on insanity and gives-up the cookie.
The child is performing a basic form of something that the most experienced defense attorneys and politicians have mastered; shifting the burden of proof onto his opponent.
“The best defense is a good offense.”
Liberals seemingly always play the role of “mother” when their policies or ideas are questioned by conservatives. No matter how important the issues, Democrats are inclined to botch the message and stumble around with meaningless phrases and concepts ultimately finding defeat. Republicans, on the other hand, unify around a cause and milk it for everything it’s worth.
A recent example of an effective conservative offense is, "The Birther Movement.”
Despite clear flaws in the argument, the simple question, “Well, WHERE IS your birth certificate?” followed by a series of “Why’s” and “Where’s” was able to resonate with enough Americans and media outlets that eventually the Administration was stuck so deep in a corner that they were forced to cave under the pressure.
It’s become routine for liberals to fumble a message when the cameras are pointed in their direction. It doesn't matter if logic is on their side because they repeatedly lack team work, conciseness, and an ability to appeal to ‘average’ Americans. That pattern is why the fight for GLBT rights MUST distance itself from the Democrat’s “Marketing Department” or, it will fail.
To achieve equal rights in Minnesota and throughout the United States, the GLBT community and its allies need to position themselves in, and maintain the offensive. The argument’s central question is NOT, “Why should Gay’s be allowed to marry?” rather, “Why CAN’T Gay Citizens have equal rights?” It is NOT our responsibility to prove that rights should be granted but to ask; WHY are they DENIED?
GLBT rights advocates must simply follow the “child’s” instinct to question his “mother.”
“What are you afraid of?”
NO ‘winning’ answer can arise from these questions and advocates will have created the new “popular sentiment.” Additionally, a suggestion illuminating the sexual insecurity of those standing in the way of equal rights is alluded to.
The once, ‘awkward minority’ will become the popular majority and the winds of change will truly begin to shift in the direction of equality.
While a cohesive message is essential to success, it becomes vital for a cause to also possess an appealing messenger.
“The bad boy gets the girl.” ‘Bad boys’ are often the object of a girl’s affection because they appear to bleed confidence.
The Republican Noise Machine may not possess an iota of fact or reason while barking its agenda however, it appeals to the masses because the messengers stand tall and look darn good delivering it.
Liberals and GLBT rights advocates must find the proper individuals to initially present the argument. In this case, those on the forefront probably should not be “Anthony Weiner” or “Lady GaGa” types. It’s not ideal (or, ‘liberal’) but from a pragmatic angle, the messengers should have a certain ethos (style and credibility) to grab a dissenter’s attention.
My point is not to draw an analogy between conservative discourse and a child begging for dessert or to chastise those dedicating their lives to GLBT rights. It’s to issue a firm ‘wake-up’ call from a progressive who is beyond frustrated with the old Democratic Guard regularly losing the war of words and image.
The simple method of shifting the burden of proof and playing offense should, if nothing else be closely examined by organized labor, universal health care proponents, and environmentalists.
The time leading into the 2012 election (when the ‘Obama Campaign Apparatus’ is running again), is the perfect opportunity for progressives to seize their message, control the microphone, recognize that the “old way” is no longer “the way”, and rally forward with an offense that paves a path for the middle class and those who are denied a voice in our democracy.
The GLBT Community is ‘lucky’ because it has honesty, integrity, and humanity on its side. As they are openly pummeled with lies and hate, it is time for supporters to take the blows, not look back, and fight to solidify our friends’ and neighbors’ rightful place in the country.