The Most Important Thing Liberals Need To Know About How To Change The World
Over the last couple of days I had an Excel chart I generated go somewhat viral. It’s been retweeted over 900 times and it got written up in The Huffington Post and in the UK Guardian. Also, Wil Wheaton retweeted it. So I’ve got some serious geek credits built up.
But I want to address something that has come up as a result of the image I created: liberal complaints.
My goal in creating the image was to hammer home a very simple point: it is really dumb to compare the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov to a natural disaster or a war because even though a bad website launch is bad, nobody is going to die.
The pushback I got is that where I list deaths from the Iraq War, the number I used was US military deaths in that conflict. Instead, some liberals have complained that I should use Iraqi civilian deaths, and the deaths of military contractors, etc., etc.
The other sort of pushback is that I should include the potential lives saved as a result of Obamacare in order to contrast it with lives lost.
The people making these kinds of suggestions have their hearts in the right place, but they are wrong.
I was trying to make a very simple point here. I believe, and I think history has borne me out on this, the way to do this is to MAKE A SIMPLE POINT.
That means that while your numbers should be accurate and factual, you need to MAKE A SIMPLE POINT.
And that means stripping away all the extra material that detracts from MAKING A SIMPLE POINT.
For instance, how many people died as a result of the Iraq War? Nobody actually knows. It is a huge, sad, tragic number that is not precise. If you’re going to be honest in this chart, it’s a range. And a range of deaths in the thousands adds another data point that detracts from our main, SIMPLE, point.
By contrast, the tragic deaths of US servicemen and women in Iraq is a very precise, widely available public number because the Pentagon had to keep track of it. If need be you could list every single Iraq War death by name and rank. This number isn’t in dispute, it isn’t a range, it is a precise number that stands on its own.
Similarly, projecting the numbers of lives possibly saved by the implementation of Obamacare is a crap shoot. Even projecting the cost savings and deficit reduction from the act is an educated guess, I couldn’t possibly have that number easily fit in to this chart. It also detracts away from my MAIN, SIMPLE, POINT.
My fellow liberals have a problem. In their quest to hammer home a point, they often feel as if they need to overwhelm the other side with a dump truck of information. It’s like a defense lawyer detailing to a jury the entire history of botched lab testing instead of telling the jury why a lab test in the case at hand is faulty.
The secret about human beings is that they can be persuaded especially well when you hit them in their guts, versus in their heads. Appeal to the head by being as factually precise as possible, but always aim for the gut. Getting someone to cry “uncle” to an information overload does not always equal a winning case, but getting them to “you’ve got a point” helps to close the sale.