If it should be true – and it is – that Whitewater is more diverse than her town fathers care to admit, with the city now a collection of disparate, minority factions, how can one reach a majority with a message? (For Whitewater’s waning notables of this generation, there’s no way to return to their former influence and command: compelling messages have changed, communications have changed, and they’re mostly too blind, too entitled, or too lazy to adapt.)
For others, though, who will carry on into the next generation, what should one do?
Here are seven suggestions. —
1. Look to national standards of quality. Left, Right, Center, etc.: adopt the language and style of national-caliber publications, groups, and movements. That’s exactly what most people in the city do, every day, when they watch national news, read national publications, use nationwide (and international) social media. It’s mostly Whitewater’s town squires – not her ordinary residents – who settle for uncompetitive standards (sketchy presentations, vague claims, platitude after platitude).
2. Take those high standards, and use them directly when thinking about local issues. Forget about going through leading figures to accomplish something. Take your ideas and apply them directly without deference to lazy or self-promotion officials. Some officials are unquestionably talented, but even they are hampered by the low standards of their least-capable colleagues.
Conservatives and the business-oriented can do much better than the Greater Whitewater Committee, Whitewater’s Community Development Authority, or Tech Park Board. Their level of reasoning, planning, and achievement is below proper American standards (and of course below the standards of most people in town). Compared with national thinking on so many topics, these gentlemen are manifestly inadequate.
Liberals can do much better than a few nebulously-sketched ideas at a committee meeting. Tailoring one’s work to the quality of supporters or opposition from others in office is committing to less than Whitewater deserves.
I’m a libertarian – neither conservative nor liberal – but I’ll readily acknowledge that either principal ideology when well-prepared is preferable to either group when trying to skate by.
3. Craft your own message, in your own medium. The local press is past the point of citywide significance – relying on their support adds little, as the audience for these publications is mostly the same, waning demographic. One would not have said as much twenty years ago, but it’s true now: newspapers and newspaper-like websites offer a (poorly-written) minority viewpoint. People in these cases are mostly talking only to themselves.
4. Use your own voice. Stop trying to sound appropriate – speak clearly and directly in your own words. Every vulgar, scheming man picks up the phrases that he thinks sound ‘right’ and ‘proper.’ I was raised in a family where one still learned to speak with a Mid-Atlantic accent, with that style of pronunciation and lots of idiosyncratic expressions. Over the years I’ve drifted from that style to more informal speech, but I often slip in and out of a mishmash of styles and pronunciations. There’s nothing to adopt – one just grows throughout one’s life. Write and speak as you normally do (however that is).
5. Optimize electronic content for mobile devices. It seems a small point, but it matters a lot in a university town. One throws aways a huge audience in Whitewater if one isn’t easily readable on a phone. (Remember, however, that content matters most.)
6. Focus on work, not acknowledgment. Whitewater’s leadership class is littered with people who want to be praised, acknowledged, noticed, etc. vanity is a poor example. It’s one’s message that counts. Those who want to see their own images time and again should buy mirrors for each room of their houses.
7. There’s more tomorrow. Even if one’s day goes well, there’s more to do tomorrow. For the ill or disadvantaged, there should be rest, comfort, and care. For people who write, who contend over policy, who hold office, etc., there’s no similar entitlement: these freely-chosen pursuits bring obligations, not entitlements. One’s work begins anew each morning. One rests in these cases to be refreshed to do more, and better, work.
There’s always more to learn, and thereafter to do.
In a community of diverse groups, one can still reach a majority, but only by abandoning failed local practices for successful national ones.