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Our Progressive Narrative

Our Progressive Narrative

The Left has been losing the messaging war for decades. We have math, science, history, logic and common sense on our side. But, we have failed to provide a compelling, universal narrative around what we believe. We must create that language that impacts the heart and mind- Heart/Soul Agreement. It must be in a form that anyone can grasp and carry into verbal, ideological combat and win. Every time.

I wrote this Twitter thread yesterday morning:

Here is the full text:

“This is a great article that infuriates me!!!! Here’s why: We have to discuss these issues in more accessible language. If we are going to win the Right/Left Populism War we MUST learn to speak Bumper Sticker. Give people a simple, logical linguistic touchstone. Then give them access to details. Give people talking points that are easy to grasp & use. Provide pertinent studies- full & summary. Potential arguments & counter arguments. I am NOT saying people are dumb or dumb-down our Progressive positions. People are busy, give them the language. Accessibility of Language is everything!!!”

Please read all the responses to the thread. There are some valuable lessons there.

What It All Means

Our creed must be grounded in bulletproof morality that applies to all right-thinking people across race, gender, religion, etc. No mealy-mouthed media speak. Plain, concrete truths that hit hard while attracting people, not repelling them. It should also undermine your opponents’ arguments (i.e., false patriotism, freedom, love, etc.). Beat them at the very core of their positions. It must be built on a foundation of morality and collective responsibility.

We have to understand that we cannot change everyone. But, we can absolutely cleave a large group away from the hardcore. Hence, engagement is a must.

What It Looks Like

Modern Conservatism is grounded in faux patriotism and religious platitudes that mask a greedy, self-centered world view. It’s all built to keep people blaming others while the rich and powerful rob us all blind. We have to fracture that foundation with every word.

Let’s take a look at a really bare bones argument:

Subject: Social Safety Net

Guiding Principle: We are Americans. We take care of each other.

Progressive Narrative: There are times when we all may need some help. We should provide a helping hand to each and every person that falls on hard times. We have each other’s backs in the darkest of times. No matter the cost.

Conservative Position #1: Yeah we can help each other. But, it shouldn’t be a lifestyle. People have to help themselves.

Progressive Counter #1: First, did we (as a nation) or another entity contribute to the problems? If so, it’s our responsibility to correct that. Second, where are the pathways out of the situation? If they are available, we guide them through. If the pathways don’t exist, we pool our resources and build them. We are Americans. We do what we must for each other.

Conservative Counter #2: We don’t have the money to help everyone.

Progressive Counter #2: That is completely untrue. If we can afford war and give money away to corporations and rich people in the form of tax cuts, we can afford to help the least of us.

Conservative Argument #3: We have to stop giving away “free stuff”.

Progressive Counter #3: Who said “free stuff”? We help each other. When that person is stronger, we assure they can get a good job. Their taxes pay back into the system that just assisted them. I want them to have all they need to pursue happiness and take care of their family. We paid it forward. I believe in my responsibility to this country, her citizens and the teachings of Christ. No one gets left behind. No one.

Our Guiding Principle put them on the defensive and undermined their jingoism right out of the gate. Which is a continuous theme. We also add a biblical perspective by using phrases like “the least of us” and “teachings of Christ”. Both of which are rock-bottom Christian dogma. Subtle, but powerful usage of language. Furthermore, we used some military phrases like “no one gets left behind”. Tossed in a reference to the Constitution for good measure.

Of course, you have all of this backed up by facts and figures from solid, neutral sources- universities/colleges and government sites. They will call it librul nonsense. However, it’s hard to debunk a Harvard or Princeton study. Even for them.

Notice that I didn’t mention one dead philosopher or yell “fu** your feelings”. No one really cares how smart you are. Especially, in ideological arguments. They think all of our sources are bogus, just like we feel the same about theirs. Alienating people with overly aggressive phrases is cool for twitter beef. But, it will rarely get anyone to change their mind.

Remember Your Audience

When you have these discussions, the person you are talking to or debating is secondary to the audience. You must seek to subtly trigger their thinking using the language of religion & patriotism. If you are morally sound in your argument, it will ring true to the right people. Which means you must also be ready to write some folks off. In the end, part on a positive (even if snarky) note- “Well. It’s been a great discussion. Have a blessed day!” Just walk away.

Think Tank-ish

I was chatting with a group of people and discussed creating a think tank, of sorts. The goal is to give people their proverbial sword and shield to take into ideological battle. Everything we produce will be based on moral, Progressive principle.

SDC- “Simple, Direct and Correct”

If you are interested in contributing, contact me on Twitter. Use the hashtag #Tankish.

For more, follow/contact me on Twitter – @blupfront or look for me here at ProgressiveArmy.com.

Written by Michael Graham

Michael Graham

Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Veteran, Social Justice Warrior. City by birth, Country by default. Follow Michael on Twitter @BLUpfront.

Michael Graham is a Senior Writer for Progressive Army.

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Maxwell Helmberger
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Framing yes. And I definitely agree that just functioning off of intelligence alone is a losing strategy. To speak from my experience, I’m a graduate student (in a STEM field, not something like poli sci or X studies where a lot of politicos come from), and I noticed back during the 2016 primary that a lot of my fellow grad students and the academics I followed and interacted with on Twitter were Hillary supporters, even the young ones. A lot of their arguments for supporting her came down to her policy chops or the “nuance” of her positions (even though… Read more »
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Our Progressive Narrative