Get Progressively Trained!

As someone who has been involved somewhat in the punditry circuit (for lack of a better term), I have been asked by progressive friends what I think is needed for the Left to compete with the Right, not so much in the war of ideas, as idea distribution.

To begin with, we need people who can confidently promote progressive values on television and radio. While the last decade has seen the creation and expansion of progressive think tanks, Air America Radio (an incubator of such talent as Rachel Maddow and Sam Seder), and even primetime MSNBC’s becoming a mini-progressive tv outpost, we still lack the funding of the Right, and the pipeline it creates.

A 24-hour conservative television station and talk radio both nationally and locally dominated by conservatives doesn’t only get the message out and give cover to politicians and political ideas once considered slightly to the right of insane (make no mistake, they’ve used these and many print distribution channels to take Bircherism, or Hofstadter’s “Paranoid Style,” mainstream–something which was once looked at as absolute looniness by those who even controlled the Establishment on the Right).

It also has created everyone from Glenn Beck to Sean Hannity to Tucker Carlson (we can also thank The Weekly Standard and Swanson for this last honor, as in Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson). So we may not have that. Or Heritage Foundation Summer School (with balconies!) and, for the most part, the other think tanks that pay conservative “thinkers” real salaries just to think out loud during non-paid tv segments, in low-paying articles and columns, and to write books nobody buys–but reach the NY Times bestseller list because these think tanks bulk buy 20,000 of them the minute they come out.

But we are making progress in other areas. One project I’m involved with, The Progressive Talent Initiative, not only provides 3.5 days of media training including everything from performance critiques to messaging advice, but the relationship continues afterwards, as the program gives you a tune up when you need it and helps get you booked for appearances.

It is a great program, which I had the luck of attending, and now maybe it’s your turn. If you’re a political strategist, progressive activist, blogger, academic, non-profit dweller or the like, this could be a great program for you to earn the key messaging and media training skills the Left so critically needs. The training is free to participants so if you are selected, can take the time to participate and are eager and willing to be booked after the training, the PTI team will take care of everything else.

If this is something you’ve been thinking about, give it a shot, as we need progressives armed with not only the facts, but the ability to share them with persuadable audiences.

So what are you doing March 9th-12th? If you’d like to apply for media training, now’s your chance. The training is limited to only 12 participants, so showcase your talents in your application for the review committee to see. Application is available here and is open until January 14. So get in the game my friends!

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Cliff Schecter

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Finding a persuadable audience is a trick in itself. I see a lot of ‘preaching to the choir’ on both sides of the aisle, simply because most people only want to hear what agrees with their preconceived notions.

    This closed-mindedness is not limited to the conservatives, by the way. I recall a recent SPK post that “the only way to prove you have a mind is to change it”. I highly value an old friend who is even further Left than I am. Her keen and educated mind and sometimes barbed comments often makes me re-examine my position.

    When I hear right-wing views I disagree with, I’m inclined to argue or try to examine specific facts. When I broach progressive/left ideas to conservatives, I am simply dismissed – they actively ignore me and refuse to even listen: “My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with facts”.

    If you let me set the premises of any debate, I guarantee I’ll win. The Right’s heavier funding gives them more/better pulpits and this has allowed them to define the political debate to suit their purposes. Progressives, leftists, Liberals – whatever you want to call my kind – need to make a lot more noise; take back the debate and frame it in much simpler, down-to-earth terms.

    The Right talks to the voters’ fears. The Left talks to the voters’ hopes. Nobody is talking to the voters’ humanity. Citizens are treated like children, to be threatened or cajoled. Nobody treats them with respect. (But then, we don’t treat our children with respect).

    While I encourage creating more pulpits for our views, I think what we really need is to grassroots punditry. Joe and Ed talking over a beer have some chance of arriving at a better understanding of issues. Joe and Ed listening to TV – Right or Left – are just watching entertainment. We need people who can and will visit the local hangouts, who speak the language of their audience. Rapport is like the spoonful of honey that makes the medicine go down.

    Retired Mainframe maven, active curmudgeon, poet, writer.

  • blogger, academic, non-profit dweller or the like…

    turn on
    tune in
    drop out

    cuz the political strategists, progressive activists, bloggers, academics, non-profit dwellers or the like are not going to save you.

  • You will not be saved by General Motors or the pre-fabricated house.
    You will not be saved by dialectic materialism or the Lambeth Conference.
    You will not be saved by Vitamin D or the expanding universe.
    In fact, you will not be saved.

    from Nightmare With Angels
    – Stephen Vincent Benet

    Retired Mainframe maven, active curmudgeon, poet, writer.

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