From 1968 to 2004, conservatives utilized the art of communication to persuade voters into supporting policies against the interests of peace and their personal prosperity. While liberals advocated obscure abstractions and responded with cerebral nuance, conservatives prevailed by hitting people in their gut. Law and order, welfare Cadillac Queens, Willie Horton, death tax, permissiveness, the flag and God were all exploited to define liberals as weak elitist traitors and conservatives as upstanding guardians of American values.
Even the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton did little to prevent the center of political gravity from shifting to the right. Consequently, a corporate plutocracy plundered the American economy at the expense of working people and small business owners, our civil liberties were systematically eroded and the neo-conservative empire culture shamefully eroded America’s moral authority and geopolitical position.
This trend metastasized in 2004 as Republican propagandists profiled John Kerry, a candidate with three purple hearts into a modern day Benedict Arnold and a flip-flopper. Following that election, liberals began absorbing the work of intellectuals such as George Lakoff and Michael Tomasky to better “frame” issues. Progress was made as Democrats captured congress in 2006 and the Republican brand is currently sucking wind.
Yet, it is quite apparent that more work needs to be done to advance the liberal cause. The Democratic congress has struggled to stand up for civil liberties, oppose our disastrous policies in Iraq and even prevent the confirmation of a pro-torture attorney general. Hence, liberals like myself still have much to learn about how to persuade people why progressive policies merit broad support.
Thom Hartmann, the premiere voice for progressive talk radio, breaks down the art and science of communication with his new book, Cracking The Code: How To Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America’s Original Vision (Berrett-Kohler). Drawing on his extensive experience as a psychotherapist, advertising executive, and host of a national talk radio show, Hartmann shares the tools to become conscious about the ways people think, sort and understand the world. More importantly, Hartmann illustrates how to successfully communicate progressive values.
Hartmann’s daily progressive radio talk show, has been going strong for five years and replaced Al Franken on the Air America Radio Network. It is also distributed to radio stations nationwide on the Jones Satellite system, and boasts more live daily listeners than any other progressive talk radio show.
Hartmann agreed to a telephone interview with me about his latest book and the art of political communication. Our conversation is just over forty-four minutes.
It is Hartmann’s second appearance on Intrepid Liberal Journal podcasts. Last year he spoke to readers/listeners of the Intrepid Liberal Journal about his book, Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class.