Saturday, June 04, 2005

Is Persuasion Dead?

A very thoughtful and thought-provoking op-ed piece by Matt Miller in today's New York Times questions whether there are still enough leaders trying to persuade, and enough Americans willing to be persuaded, to continue an effective democracy. Or are we stuck with punching "hot buttons"?
Speaking just between us - between one who writes columns and those who read them - I've had this nagging question about the whole enterprise we're engaged in. Is persuasion dead? And if so, does it matter? ...

Is it possible in America today to convince anyone of anything he doesn't already believe? If so, are there enough places where this mingling of minds occurs to sustain a democracy?

The signs are not good. Ninety percent of political conversation amounts to dueling "talking points." Best-selling books reinforce what folks thought when they bought them. Talk radio and opinion journals preach to the converted. Let's face it: the purpose of most political speech is not to persuade but to win, be it power, ratings, celebrity or even cash...

There's only one problem: governing successfully requires influencing how people actually think. Yet when the habits of persuasion have been buried, the possibilities of leadership are interred as well...

If you believe that meeting our collective challenges requires greater collective understanding, we've got to persuade these folks to try.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment