My Sharpest Weapon:A Smile
I have spent a couple of days at the Right Online conference in beautiful downtown Minneapolis. I have had a thoroughly happy time. Why not? I am an American. I am still (mostly free). I am surrounded by other Americans in a great American city. I have a God who cares about me and my freedom. I have 4 beautiful and amazing children in Colorado. What’s not to smile about. Netroots, the liberal version of Right Online, a little older, more extreme Left than we are Right, cranky and negative, has been taking place across the street from our hotel.
Meetings in the streets, on elevators, in lobbies are inevitable between the “Nutroots” crowd and the “Vast Right Wing Conspirators.” I got on the elevator going down this morning and a very hip young lady got on at the same time. She noticed my Right Online lanyard, I noticed her Netroots lanyard. She was uncomfortable. I was exhilarated. I had her trapped for 6 floors. She began, “It looks like we’re…opposites.” I was thoughtful, “Ummm,” I said, “yeah, but we’re both Americans. That is the most important thing we share.” “And,” she added, relaxing slightly, “we both use the internet!” A pleasant conversation ensued. She asked me what I blogged about and I told her my story. When we got to the lobby I wished her a wonderful day. She smiled a big smile my direction.
I walked up to the intersection and she promptly jay-walked across the street. I have seen perhaps a hundred activists from Netroots on the streets around the convention centers here. I smile and purposely make eye contact. Some give me a glower, some an “hurrumph,” and some, like the young lady in the elevator, have shared my smile. I have 4 children who have passed through or are now residing in their young adulthood. I have an instinctive love for young people. And it occurred to me that I am not fighting against the individuals at Netroots, or on the Left.
I am fighting, as a Conservative, against bad ideas, bad policies, and bad institutions. This is not a war of Americans against Americans. It is a war of truth against lies, freedom against tyranny, and civility against hatred. I wielded the weapon of a smile, and I won a little piece of a young woman’s heart. And she won a little of mine. This is where the most crucial battles will be fought. It is more than a platitude to say “winning the hearts and minds of America.” It is a crucial strategy which should be the foundation of all rhetorical and political battles. What better way to disarm the ideological foe, who is at their heart a friend waiting to learn that they too love their liberty, than to give them a smile, a pleasant conversation, and a wish for a wonderful day. We have nothing to fear in our own kindness. And that young lady whom I met on the elevator will never honestly be able to say that all conservatives are crazy, or mean, or cranky, or old white men.
[…] believe him to be the Little Satan–second only to the Great Satan–Rush Limbaugh. But my experience at Right Online 2011 was not contentious at all. My hotel was full of Netroots participants. […]
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