The story today of a lifesize statue of Dame Lois being commissioned for the new Court building is the perfect setup for an article I was preparing to post, discussing the US conservative communications strategy, and how progressives could learn from it.
I've posted recently on the PLP's discipline around The Narrative, and have also said for years that in the Bermuda context the PLP are Republicans and the UBP the Democrats. This article really nails it, just switch 'conservatives' for 'PLP' and 'progressives' with 'UBP':
ProgressivesThe UBP often stand in awe of the ability of Republicansthe PLP to communicate their message in simple stories. Usually that begrudging admiration is focused on the ability of conservativesthe PLP to so effectively make progressivesthe UBP the villain. To the extent that progressivesthe UBP have even attempted to use narrative, their efforts have often zeroed in on how to return the favor by demonizing Republicansthe PLP.
Consequently, when it comes to coherent policy narratives,
progressivesthe UBP either don't produce one at all or reactively focus on villainizing Republicansthe PLP. This has had the effect of depriving progressivesthe UBP of any hope that voters might conclude that they are their "heroes."
The descriptions of progressives relying on the logic and good sense of their policies is identical to what the UBP does. I often comment to people that Bob Richards delivers great economic critiques, but fails to be persuasive because he's convinced that everyone can see just how logical and well reasoned his position is:
Up until now,
progressivesthe UBP appear to have presumed that their policy proposals self-evidently reveal the underlying motives for seeking those outcomes. They've felt no need to offer the "why" for voters to evaluate -- seemingly hoping that the sheer force of their logic and the weight of the facts would carry the day. However, work by scholars like Jerome Bruner suggests that narrative reveals intentions or the "why" behind the actions of a player in a drama far better than a rational argument does.
For voters assessing complex policy questions that they may not feel that they fully grasp the details of, knowing why a politician is pursuing a policy may be the critical question the voter wants answered. And it is in that regard that the current communication tactics of
progressivesthe UBP falls most woefully short.
Meanwhile, the narratives that
conservativesthe PLP use often in fact make progressivesthe UBP the villains. What progressivesthe UBP have failed to notice is that those same narratives "star" conservativesthe PLP in the role of "heroes" of those same stories, and the research of Dr. Jones suggests that's where the real power of those narratives resides.
The Dame Lois as sole National Hero fixation, naming of public buildings after PLP members and statues commissioned in their honour are the visible manifestation of this dynamic.
ConservativesThe PLP are the heroes of their own stories. ProgressivesThe UBP need to internalize that same sense of pride in their efforts and then infuse their policy narratives with political champions. This may finally activate the reasons voters already believe are good cause to support progressivethe UBP's policies, but constantly push to the back of their thoughts -- or the "why" of public policy. People want more than to be a part of a laundry list of meaningless policy facts or sterile solutions; rather, at the very core of humanity you will find a need to explain the world in a way that makes each one of us the protagonist. And nobody wants to be the protagonist in a story nobody would want to read or hear. No, we all want to be the hero in a story that places each one of us as a champion of what is righteous and good. ProgressivesThe UBP certainly have the building blocks for such a story.
The article is really worth a read. And of course my argument is so logical as to be self-evident.