Winning The Hearts and Minds

Recently, the Albany Herald ran an editorial by Bill Shipp regarding “gun free zones”, apparently in regards to the shooting in UGA by a professor.  Frankly, gun free zones are a waste of effort.  Criminals don’t care about the law by definition, so why limit where those who we don’t mind having guns (i.e. the good guys) by stupid laws.

Obviously, this elicited a couple of letters to the editor.  The first one is here and the second one is here.  Both letters bring up some great points, and are factually correct in every way so far as I can tell.  However, these letters are also insulting to Bill Shipp.  Now, I don’t know either of these writers, but I’m a gun guy too, so I know the type pretty well.  They don’t care a fig about whether Bill Shipp feels insulted or not, and I don’t blame them, I don’t either.

However, there are probably hudreds of thousands of gun control advocates in this country.  Truth be told, I used to be one.  I’m not alone.  Noted gun rights advocate Paxton Quigley is another one.  We switched to the “dark side” long ago because of the facts regarding guns.  Criminals fear armed civilians.  Legally, an armed civilian doesn’t have to try and arrest someone committing a forcable felony  first, and can only shoot as a last resort.  In various stand your ground states, like Georgia, we can fire not only to defend ourselves, but others as well.  This creates a dangerous environment for the scum of society, and they know it.

These facts helped change my opinions regarding gun control, and the same is true for Ms Quigley.  However, hurling insults at someone who’s the “face” of gun control won’t change anyone’s mind.  People, when they feel attacked, have a habit of becoming more entrenched and dogmatic regarding their chosen path, rather than listening to whatever logic and reason are also embedded with that attack.

If we are to win the hearts and minds, and you can’t change policy until you change minds, we must understand human nature.  While emotion is a powerful ally, we must understand that it can become a tool for our own undoing.  We must master our own emotions to avoid being labeled as unstable and therefore not worth listening too.  Everyone has their pet policies.  For me it’s firearms.  For others it’s immigration.  We can start to see red and froth at the mouth to the point we should consider legally changing our name to Cujo.  I get it.  But we must curb that emotion and instead passionately speak about facts and use emotions as our weapon.

Libertarians are branded by many as nuts who want to legalize pot and ban stop lights.  Any attacks by us must be based on sound logic and free from insult.  The same is true for gun rights activists, as there are many on the left who believe only the unstable would want a gun.  Granted, I guess that, as a gun nut, I get a double whammy of crazy by these people.  I can live with it.  However, I’m still going to try and change their minds.

In 2008, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr received just 0.4% of the vote nationally.  It wasn’t that no one had heard of Bob Barr either, so lack of name recognition probably wasn’t a factor.  What I suspect had a bigger impact on that election was the public’s perception of Libertarianism, and what that actually means.  Sure, Barr not being included in the debates didn’t help one bit, but we should be able to do better than 0.4%, don’t you think?

Bob Barr raised just over $1,300,000 (as opposed to $500 million for Obama).  Fund raising is usually a good metric for seeing how popular a candidate is, and by extension how many hearts and minds have been won.  Barr’s spending averaged out to be $2.57 per vote while President Obama spent $7.39 per vote.  I might be wrong here, but it sounds like it’s cheaper to get someone to vote for a Libertarian than for a candidate who supposedly inspires people just by opening his mouth.

So then, why didn’t we get more than 0.4% of the vote in 2008?  Simple.  We haven’t focused on winning the hearts and minds.  We can be insulting to both parties, and to independents who lean in a direction that we don’t like.  To some extent, it will always happen.  I’ve done it and will continue to do it in the future, though not intentionally.  It’s human nature to do such things.  However, we must try and curb human nature a bit and understand that most people out there don’t understand our positions on most anything.

We must use the political tools available to us to change people’s minds.  Without that, we will remain a third party and the two party system will continue on.  And let’s face it, neither party has done that great a job so far.  Can we really let them continue?


One Response

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