When I was a younger and more naïve man, I sometimes thought to myself, “Boy, if I could just get a forum in which to express my ideas, I could really change people’s minds.” This was before I realized that, more often than not, it wasn’t a matter of changing minds. It was a matter of changing hearts.
This is why I shake my head when hearing talk of how conservatives can possibly “win over” women or Hispanics or blacks or whatever the latest pander-worthy group may be, of how they need to “reach out” or “reframe their message,” as if everyone is a logic-worshipping Mr. Spock. After all, even if the media would disseminate the conservative argument without twisting it into a soggy, unpalatable pretzel — which they won’t — did it ever occur to these tacticians that the problem isn’t mainly a matter of intellect, but emotion?
As a related example, I got into a debate years ago with a very amiable man who had moved to the US from Denmark. He was defending socialist policies of his native land’s variety, yet, when I asked him if he intended to return home, his answer was no. Clearly, he rejected the Yankee recipe but still wanted the delicacy.
This is all too common. People often ask how it is that northerners move to the South, or Mexicans and other foreigners to the US, for a better life, but then vote as they did whence they came. Don’t they know this only ensures that the South will become more like the North or the US more like south of the border? Again, whatever they know, it isn’t mainly a matter of knowledge.
Of course, in many cases people do fail to make the proper associations between cause and effect. Yet this is often due to emotional blocks, as the intellect cannot adjudicate facts not given their day in court. Then there is rationalization, when we bend reality for ourselves because we can’t bear to bend our wants to reality. The truth is that the cold intellect is generally outmatched by hot emotion, even, sometimes, when we do know better. The ancient sage Confucius lamented this when saying, “It is not that I do not know what to do; it is that I do not do what I know.” And C.S. Lewis spoke of it when writing in Abolition of Man:
Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite sceptical about ethics, but bred to believe that “a gentleman does not cheat,” than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers.
And I had sooner trust the vote of a person who was quite skeptical about religion, but bred to believe in pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, than that of a rote churchgoer who had been brought up among socialists.
Failing to consider how often emotion, or our animal nature, trumps intellect is one of the most common mistakes made when predicting man’s behavior. George W. Bush was guilty of this when making the case for Mideast “nation building” and saying “All people want freedom.” Perhaps. But so does a wild animal in a city zoo; so does a toddler. Yet neither can negotiate civilization without endangering himself and/or others. And this mistake is also apparent in continual Kumbaya calls to ignore the perils of cultural incongruity, such as “All people want the same things.”
Even insofar as this is true, there’s a chasm between wanting and getting. Virtually everyone wants money, but many have neither the focus nor the capacity to acquire it. All want health, but not everyone has the discipline to exercise and live a healthful lifestyle. And let’s say that someone had ravaged his health via poor votes with the knife, fork, pipe, and shot-glass, and then was offered the chance to leap into a robust, pristine body. Unless he was like an alcoholic I know of who refused a liver transplant, saying that she knew she couldn’t change and would also ruin the new liver, he very well might take that leap. Yet his habits would come with him. And what do you think that new body would look like 5 or 10 years hence? You can take the boy out of what is destroyed, but you can’t take the destructiveness out of the boy.
This is the problem with the call to “reach out.” Arguments must first penetrate that filter of emotion before they can reach people’s minds, yet even then there is no guarantee that the people won’t sacrifice what is right in favor of what feels right. And note that when I mentioned “cultural incongruity” earlier, I didn’t just refer to foreigners invading the body of America. I also meant those whose minds and hearts have been snatched through the Triumvirate of Evil (TIE): academia, the media, and popular culture. Its great triumph is that, through an unrivalled conversion rate, it has turned a counter-culture into the dominant one.
But what all our foreigners — both those from abroad and the native-born — have in common is that they bring bad ideological health and its attendant emotions with them. Northerners and Mexicans move to greener pastures because that feels right, then vote for statists because that feels right. Women want security and “reproductive freedom,” young people a hopeful future, and blacks a civil-rights utopia because those things feel right, but then vote for politicians who would destroy their rights, freedom, and future because that feels right. And it all is eminently logical if you understand that man is often illogical.
Lest I be misunderstood, I’m not cynical about reason; after all, presenting reasoned arguments is what I do by trade. But I also know that I’m writing for a different, and perhaps even less fashionable, one percent (slight exaggeration? Perhaps, but you get the point). And we’re not going to reason people out of positions they haven’t reasoned themselves into, to paraphrase Ben Franklin. The “emerging demographic majority” will just behave unreasonably and, like the proverbial scorpion that stung the duck ferrying him across a river, thus guaranteeing both their deaths, essentially say, “I could not help myself. It is my nature!”
Of course, this doesn’t mean that some individuals won’t have a conversion of heart, but anomalies don’t discredit averages. And as ex-KGB Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov said about these “demoralized” people in the 1980s already, “You are stuck with them.” You won’t change them. All you could do is devote 15-20 years to educating a new generation of patriotic Americans, but this requires seizing control of TIE, that axis of destruction that molds minds and, more significantly, hearts. This clearly, however, is impossible within the context of our current republic. And thus are national elections now a fool’s errand for traditionalists.
Instead, as the left has done for ages with drug and immigration laws, we need to focus on the nullification of federal laws in states where we’re still strong — while we still can. We should endeavor to separate from TIE as much as possible by forging and strengthening our own organizations, media, and schooling, like Amish with modernity and muscle. And, like pious Muslims do vis-à-vis the West, we must counteract seduction by the (liberal) dominant culture by viewing it as enemy occupied territory. For just as total separation from what is unclean ensures a clean room’s purity, so do we need more division in America, not less.
This is the reality of our situation. Accepting it would do far more good than trying to take the helm of a ship that sailed, and sank, long ago.
The Moral Liberal Associate Editor, Selwyn Duke, is a columnist, public speaker and Internet entrepreneur whose work has been published widely. He has been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show, is a regular guest on The Michael Savage Show, and has a regular column in both the Christian Music Perspective Magazine and The New American magazine. Copyright © 2012 Selwyn Duke
The Moral Liberal highly recommends Dr. Cleon Skousen’s The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution