I admit it. I could not have written on this subject more eleoquently than Ms. Coppock.
The "American way of life" and many other similar phrases, have been deliberately hollowed out -- rendered ineffective for conveying a sense of meaning. It's almost like going to work one day and discovering that every time you say the word "blue", everyone acts like they never heard it before and have no idea what you mean by "blue".
We can stop this trend. In upcoming articles, I'll explore options. Meanwhile, please offer comments and direction for that effort.
Talking politics with strangers
By Nancy Coppock
Travel presents an ideal laboratory for viewing the perspective of the public
at large. On a recent trip to Washington, D.C. I had a brief conversation with
the man sitting next to me on the plane as we flew by the Washington Monument
and the beauty of the reflecting pool. The man was an architect for a large firm
that does work on buildings and associations of which we are all familiar. I
told him I was in town for a conference called Defending the American Dream, and
here is where the laboratory was revealed.
When we use phrases such as "the American Dream," "preserving the American
way of life" and "protecting the future for our children," we must understand
that the ideological war has been busy since Rules for Radicals came on the
scene. These phrases are being dehydrated of their meaning. Refreshing them is
the front line in our effort to right our ship of state, because the man sitting
next to me asked, "So what do you believe?" The ideological war has been so
successful that the phrase "Defending the American Dream" didn't make sense to
him. Therefore, I gave a 30 second "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"
lesson, to which his reply was, "So what do you think about Health Care Reform?"
"Well, we don't think what Congress is doing is reform," I answered, and
rattled off maybe six ideas of true reform. This is where the communication
break became clear, because his response was, "Well, I think we need to have a
debate about ideas. People are thinking crazy things, like there are death
panels in the bill." The off-loading tunnel was hooking up to the plane, so I
had to be quick. "Wait a minute," I said, holding out my hands in a pie shape.
"If you have a budget pie, there are going to be cost saving measures taken.
That's a given. What we are saying is get rid of the whole pie mentality. Let
everyone purchase the insurance policy that's right for them. Why have the
government force me to have maternity insurance when I can't have children? And
what's the first thing you do when your car's value drops below what you could
collect from insurance if it's wrecked? You call your insurance guy and cancel
full coverage because that saves you money. And, do you really need hair
"We want you to be able to be as prosperous as you can be, and then support
the charities of your choice for those in need." The man paused. Then he smiled
genuinely, understanding my point. Our now-productive conversation finished with
him uttering a simple "Thank you."
What I learned from this encounter was that we cannot expect to be understood
by communicating in phrases that have been drained of meaning. We are living in
an age of shifting, dried out definitions, making informational communication
difficult. When the man said we need to have a debate after I had already listed
numerous examples of reform, the former teacher in me quickly grasped the
failure to communicate. His brain responded with the MSM fashionable soundbite
because he had no response to actual ideas of true reform. His political
complacency had dulled his cognitive skills. However, the visual budget pie I
made with my hands revived his understanding. It was clear when viewing this
that someone else was going to be making decisions about his life. The
illustration was undeniable.
What we on the Right perceive as understandable phrases are being parched out
of the national understanding. This is not to say that true Americanism has been
totally erased from everyday living, but the culture of nihilism has been busy
trying to obliterate these icons as surely as a school kid filling in the O's on
his school book cover, then later blocking out the entire word in an ink void.
We must provide an environment that refreshes our thirsty ideals.
Later, in the hotel elevator, a young security guard asked me if I was
enjoying my stay. I told him I was having a wonderful time and was here at a
conference about Defending the American Dream. I asked him if he knew what the
American Dream was, and he said, "No," with that schoolboy tentativeness
suggesting fear of giving the wrong answer. "Ah," I said with engaging teacher
compassion, "you've got to know about the American Dream. Life, liberty, and
the..." and he chimes in, eyes glowing, "pursuit of happiness!" The truth was
now feeding his soul and I could tell he was soaking it all in. He stepped out
of the elevator to continue the conversation, and I began to remind him of how
the American Dream comprises so much of what gives life meaning. "To be the best
you can be..." he adds, "to love my family and to provide for them." His roots
were now drinking freely in the truth that causes buds and blossoms to sprout.
He understood the Dream.
Then I hit him with the hard reality. What Congress and the Obama
administration are doing is burning out the Dream, selling his precious children
into slavery. "How long would you have to work to pay off a 30 or 40 thousand
dollar debt? And that's just right now, today. The government is still out there
saying they want to pay for our health care! How can they pay when they don't
have any money? That's what I call selling our children into slavery. And why?
Because 'we want'? Because we want right now, we sell our children into
The lesson only needed a conclusion. "The only party offering any hope in
preserving the American Dream is the Republican Party. Remember that when you
vote. And do vote! Vote to protect your family and your own American Dream." "I
will, I will..." he said, a stronger husband and father, and a better man.
This is the project before each of us at the grassroots level. Many people
around us are not indignant that the Dream has gone dormant. So we must find
each individual where they are and refresh the Dream in them. We must water this
grassland. All that's needed is a life-giving shower to reawaken the roots of
the Dream in most people. The Dream feeds the soul. Meeting with like-minded
folks, such as at Tea Party events, strengthens our resolve to help our
neighbors understand. Doing this will invigorate the vote in 2010, 2012, and
beyond. Like irrigation on dry plains, it will be part of changing the future of
our country, and it will give hope to future generations.
Living in Texas through a hot dry summer, I see the magical greening of the
grassland pastures when a late summer rain blesses the land. It reminds me that
we have the water to nourish the American Dream. And so, we must water the
grassland of America in the truth of the Dream in the way each person can
understand. If we all do this, we can, as a country, shift from defending the
Dream back to growing the Dream. Let's resolve to do this, together.