Lesson for Liberals #3: Know Which Audience You Need To Reach

One giant failure of today’s liberals is that they fail to consistently address the right audiences. They allow Trump supporters to bait them into inane, unproductive arguments. Even frustrated people who call themselves “liberals” sometimes even wind engaging in crude name calling. This only increases the polarization that helps Trump. Lower the temperature.

With apologies to my agnostic and atheist friends, I suggest that Matthew 12:1-14 (full text below) provides a useful analogy.

This biblical story deals with the a confrontation between Jesus and a group of “elders,” respected authorities of the day. Enemies of Jesus arranged a sort of Socratic dialogue with the elders, expecting that their questions would easily expose his inconsistencies and discredit him. Instead, Jesus proved more persuasive. Not surprising, since after all, he’s the hero in this story, right?

Here’s the key teaching point for contemporary liberals: In what I think is the best interpretation, Jesus knew his most important audience was not the elders. They were not persuadable.

Jesus knew that his most important audience was those who overheard the discussion. After the debate Jesus called “the crowd” to him and said, “Listen and understand.” Matthew 15:10. His primary audience was the crowd, not the elders.

Today’s most ardent Trump supporters are the modern “elders.” You will never convince them. Always remember in any debate that the most important audience is the “persuadables.” Explain your position concisely and persuasively, but always be the adult in the room, maintaining your dignity.

This gives you your best chance at reaching the persuadables, the moderates and even the Trump supporters who are beginning to have some doubts about Trump.

Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if a man says to his father and mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ 6 he is not to ‘honor his father’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

8 ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men’.”

10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean’.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you not know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” 13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

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