The Strategic Storytelling Advantage
How the Left beats the Right when it comes to weaving a tale.
When you saw the parade of celebrities endorsing Hillary Clinton at last week’s Democrat National Convention, how many of you just rolled your eyes, figuring it was typical of Hollywood? Well, maybe we conservatives should be taking that more seriously, because Hollywood’s kicking our rear ends.
No, we’re not just talking pop culture, although that is one of the ways they beat conservatives. They outdo us because, for all our eye rolling, Hollywood elites like Shondra Rimes and JJ Abrams (both of whom have publicly supported Hillary Clinton) give the Left a huge advantage. They are master storytellers. This is one reason the Left often has an edge — they have crafted a story, and many of the entertainment industry’s best storytellers are behind ‘em. You laugh — but don’t. Whether it’s a Taylor Swift breakup song, an episode of Gray’s Anatomy, or the latest Star Wars movie, a story’s being told — and these stories can make tons of money while they influence the way people think.
When you really think about it, for the last 25 years, the Democrats have used storytelling to their advantage. In the 1992 election cycle, it was about the “Man from Hope.” In 1996, it became about “Building a Bridge to the 21st Century.” In 2000, the narrative Al Gore peddled was “The People vs. the Powerful.” 2004 gave us “Bush Lied, People Died.” In 2008, Obama cruised to the White House on “Hope and Change.” For 2012, it was “The War on Women” and the “Forward” message. In 2016, it’s “Stronger Together.” (It’s worth noting that Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” story really resonated, hence his success in the primary.)
That was just the presidential races.
Remember Mediscare in late 1995? How about the narrative about Paul Ryan pushing a grandma off a cliff? Or how religious liberty laws were anti-homosexual? All of that has been used as well, and to great effect. You don’t have to take our word for it — look at the way Republican governors caved to threats over pending RFRA legislation in several states.
The Left gets away with not only the false narratives, but they also duck accountability for the War on Poverty’s track record of failure since 1965. The teachers’ unions have also benefitted from the Left’s storytelling advantage. Teachers are seen as heroes, and any effort to reform failing schools — particularly those in the inner cities — is painted as an attack on teachers. Even the tough prison sentences that keep drug dealers off the streets are now painted as a form of racism, and Barack Obama commutes hundreds to make a political point. The problems in cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit — all of which have been run by Democrats for decades — never stick to the Left, either.
The facts didn’t bear out the narratives, but the skillful storyteller gets people to suspend their disbelief. Shonda Rimes and JJ Abrams are two of the best in the business, and they are only part of the many in Hollywood (and culture at large) backing Hillary. Even performers like America Ferrara and Lena Dunham give Hillary a boost, simply because they know how to connect with audiences who love their characters. That is why when celebrities are backing Hillary, they give her a huge advantage.
She can brazenly lie about the FBI’s findings regarding her truthfulness about her private email server, and she gets a pass for far more stuff than what got David Petraeus a criminal record. Yet she portrays herself as a less risky choice than Donald Trump — and polls indicate people are buying that portrayal. We should not be surprised that Hillary’s had a convention bounce in the polls, and we shouldn’t be surprised that Hillary will have an easier time than she should, either. Her storytellers are working overtime.
The real question is can the Right adapt to this, and turn the 2016 election around in time to prevent Hillary from gaining the White House? Furthermore, after the 2016 election, can the Right start to find a way to affect the pop culture themselves, rather than leaving it to Democrats? Those are two pressing questions that need to be answered.