Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I've been trying to wrap my head around what you have written, it's like trying to hug a sequoia.

Anyway, to jump into this communal brainstorm on articulating our values and getting them across to the public more forcefully...

Use myths, but do not be used by myths
"Myths" and "symbolic universes", which though distinct from "manifesto" and "ideology", are nevertheless similar and related to those terms.  If we sincerely believe that our values, interpretations and proposals are superior to those of the "neoliberals" and "conservatives", then yes we should articulate myths and symbolic universes that ground and support our points of view, in other words, we need to propagandize our viewpoints by articulating them in myths and by utilizing the media that you enumerated.  My concern, however, is that we make a distinction between "myths" and "ideology", and not let the former calcify into the latter.  There is a danger that myths become party line become ideology, suppressing free discourse, ostracizing unorthodox voices, and themselves becoming the raison d'etre of a political movement, rather than the set of conditions that the myth was created to help bring about in the first place?  Perhaps the general public has enough sense of irony -- and suffficient, if vague, memory of fascism and communism -- to keep a healthy perspective on these myths.  Nonetheless, this talk of "manifesto" somehow sits uneasy with me...

The impact of geography
Your diary made me think a lot about the fact that among my university friends (Americans), it is remarkable how our political positions correspond in most cases so well to where we grew up:  north-east and west coastals and northerners (especially Minnesota and Wisconsin) tend to be more liberal; southerners, rockies and southwesterners tend to be conservative, with some exceptions, of course.  Which raises the question:  Can radio/TV/movies/blogs significantly alter the symbolic universes that imprint themselves on us in the geographical milieus that we grow up in?  Or do the underlying fundamental conditions of those milieus have to change themselves iin order to alter those universes?  (For example, I am intrigued by the [possibly crackpot, yes I admit] theory that much of the culture and viewpoints in the U.S. south is still affected by the trauma of the Civil War and the Reconstruction period.)  You yourself answer in the negatiive, though you claim that "10-20 % (maybe 30% in the US) of subjects extremely affected by the latest general political perception" may be influenced by TV and the mass media (if I read you right.)  Do we then tailor our myths and narratives to this potentially more flexible demographic based on their geohistorical backgrounds, so that our message sinks in and spreads better?

Specific Policy Positions
I may have missed it in your diary, but I think a key element that would help a lot would be clear, concise, specific policy "bullet-points", that while perhaps overly simplified and even simplistic, can be readily grasped, resonate, and be remembered.  For example, the hardcore Republican platform had the following specific policy bullet-points: Reduce taxes, no mercy for terrorists, America sovereign against the world, roll back abortion freedoms, greater openness for religion in public institutions, guns rights, and probably more I can't think of right now.  Even if not all conservatives agreed on all points, they could find enough in the menu to choose from and chose "Eat at George's".  What are the analogous bullet-points for our liberal/progressive position?  We need to come up with such a menu: of course not all liberal/progressives will agree with all of the points, whatever they turn out to be, but enough should find enough to agree with to get motivated and do something about them.  Furthermore, the points need to be succinct and salient enough to stir chords among the undecided/disaffected/on the fence 20-30% .  (Some bullet-points that come to mind:  inviolability of privacy (including personal lifestyle); restoring the power to declare and/or initiate war to the legislature; crackdown on legislative corruption; campaign reform; renewed efforts to provide all children the knowledge and skills to succeed in society; a ban on preventive warfare; recommitment to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty with emphasis on destroying existing hoards of nuclear arms by U.S., France, Russia, China, etc.; a Manhattan project for developing non-fossil-based, environment friendly, sustainable energy sources; taxes on gasoline and petroleum based products throughout the supply/distribution chain; a ban on capital punishment; a ban on torture; a revision of the Geneva Conventions to formalize international protocols on the detention of non-POWs; international treaty to eliminate slave trafficking (in particular, sexual slaves); tax incentives to encourage people (primarily Americans) to save; and so on.

Different strategies/tactics needed for different political tribes?
I am not sure about this, but I have been wondering, do conservatives prefer different styles of communication in general (more confrontational, more self-assured, more categorical, more dualistic) than liberals (more discursive, more reflective, more qualifying, more pluralistic)?  If so, should we try to identify the right cadence that rings true for liberals, but that also appeals to those who do not self-identify as liberals, but are potentially persuadable to a more liberal/progressive platform?  Francois in Paris made an interesting point in the Criminalizing Abortion thread:

From my experience in the US, Obama is correct that many American voters shy away from partisanship and pine for a "return" to an idealized consensual "bipartisanhip" that never really existed. But he completely misses that the debate always happen at two levels, the general public and the base, and the terms are very different. The Republicans understand that very well and have played it for years with the outward message of "compassionate conservatism" or whatever to the general voters and the paranoid discourse to the base, "Christianity under attack" and all that crap.

For those in the public who would be open to a more liberal/progressive platform, do we also need to think in terms of a twofold "general public"/"base" approach?  What would our analog of "compassionate conservativism" be?  Our "Christianity under attack"?  Or do we just keep one message, for both the general public and the base?  (Personally, I like Jerome's we are only as rich as the poorest amongst us.  It wraps up so much so nicely.  But I am not sure how that would play in the U.S.  Americans still are uneasy with the notion that there are huge socioeconomic divergences in our country.  Couching a myth in terms of this wealth divergence will make many uncomfortable.  The embarrassing family secret we're not ready to face up to yet.  Irrational, yes.  But I calls them like I sees them.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Thu Apr 13th, 2006 at 12:15:20 PM EST

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