What I Learned About How to Talk to Liberals from Americans for Prosperity

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Friday and Saturday, the Omni Dallas hosts Americans for Prosperity's "Defending the American Dream" conference. Featured speakers include Governor Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Jeb Hensarling and Indiana governor Mike Pence. We sent two of our reporters to get the full experience. This is one of their dispatches:

Unlike Defending the American Dream's 9 a.m. sessions, which were "highlighted" by a mostly wonky discussion about the evils of Obamacare, the 10 a.m. workshops featured a clear headliner: "Thanksgiving Gone Wrong: How to Talk About Freedom," where an audience packed into an overflowing ballroom learned the best ways to deal with particularly ornery liberal friends and relatives.

Here's what I learned:

  • According to woman sitting behind me in the audience, Facebook recently suggested she send a friend request to her plastic surgeon, despite her never having posted anything about her procedures on the social network. She thinks this happened because Facebook has access to her medical records. She and her friend considered whether they should keep using the social network or not.

  • The reasons liberals don't listen to conservatives is that they simply cannot grasp economic freedom and liberty. They are many ways to overcome this hurdle. Chief among them, Dave Johnson of the Grassroots education institute said, is the "story tree" mechanism, which incorporates the features of a tree to form a convincing personal narrative. Coincidentally, this is also a method used in the 1972 film, Deliverance.
  • Were one to become a conservative, multiple privileges -- except white privilege, because that doesn't exist -- will be heaped upon one. Among the best, judging by the statements of the panel and the crowd, is being able to use the racist nickname of Washington's NFL team to humorous effect and referring to any group of which one isn't part as "they."
  • Contrary to popular belief, Johnson said, conservatives are misunderstood because they are too intellectual. To their detriment, they argue with their heads, rather their hearts, he said.
  • Apparently, anyone can make it in America with three things "God, good credit and freedom." What that good credit is for isn't clear. The panel made it plain that the virtuous don't borrow or live under a deficit.
  • The ideas of old-school Austrian economists like Ludwig Von Mises are essential to winning over liberals, rather than doing something radical like acknowledging the humanity of those who are different from one.
  • To that end, it's important to use black conservatives as a way into black communities, former ACORN employee Anita Moncrief said. It's hard, she said, because "cultural slave catchers" within the black community make sure black conservatives are demonized and "put in their place." But it can be done.
  • As an audience member, you can say things like "[liberals] are the student council weenies, their futures are lines at the DMV, then bread lines, then firing lines," and no one will bat an eye.
  • Finally, despite the fact that, as another audience member said "we've already lost our children" -- because of the public school system -- Johnson remains hopeful.

    "It's never too late for any American," he said, "we just haven't told our story."

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