In another session of the TNM’s Legislative Action Workshop, Don Teer, Field Director for TNM, joined moderator Claver Kamau-Imani to discuss making Texas independence personal, in a talk entitled “Why Do You Care?: The Importance of Developing Your Story.”
Claver and Don Teer kicked-off the talk by discussing the great success of progressive politicos in advancing their particular causes through emotional appeal. And while they may do this to ridiculous excess, these tactics should not be completely dismissed as illegitimate. If you can relate your cause to basic human needs, in effect making it personal, then you will go farther in making your case than just relying on a cerebral argument. The same is done in sales and religious evangelism, and it should also be done in making the case for Texas independence. You need to make the story about people. “What people are interested in is who they can connect with. And, if they can connect with that person in the story, that makes all the difference in the world,” said Don.
Crafting a compelling public narrative, especially for Texas Independence, relies on the nexus of three stories: the story of SELF (your personal experience), the story of US (our common experience), and the story of NOW (the challenges we share); connected by purpose, community, and urgency. Everyone has a compelling story that can move others to action. Getting people to relate their own stories to your story, adopting it, is key in convincing them that something should be done.
Rationality, while important to an argument, only dictates how a person thinks about things (evidence, logic, and data). This is not enough to convince somebody of your position. You must also connect this to a person’s story, bring your cause out of the abstract and directly appeal to personal needs and wants; effectively, you must appeal to how a person feels about things. This includes personal morality as well as other considerations, and often how a person views “bad and good” is highly emotional. Ergo, the main argument for Texas independence should not be political, but moral, that what Washington is doing is not right. If you can get a person to identify with your morality, with your story, then the combination of rational-appeal and emotional-appeal becomes a useful tool to persuade, and a powerful motivator towards transformative action.
As an example of such arguing, Teer shared his own personal story, how he (a multi-generational Texan and U.S. veteran) had been constantly let down by the perennially broken promises of the GOP (how they were going to “scale-down the government” and restore traditional liberty). And no matter the conservative credentials of the candidate, failure and corruption were inevitably the end result. For Don, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the re-election of Obama. “I saw the death of our country in that re-election. It just hit me that the republic that I thought I had served for, that I made a commitment to… to defend… it didn’t exist. It was an idea whose time had passed.” Continuing, Don said, “I grieved for [the] loss of [the] country, what I thought I had been living in, but then I came to a point where I said, ‘I can do [one of] two things: I can lie down, bow the knee, and take it, and just try to live life as peacefully as possible, or I can try to do something about it.’”
According to Don, the deciding factor was his grandkids, fear that the increasing encroachment by Washington would create a climate where freedom was a thing of the past, and that his grandkids would have to live in such a world. And though he no longer believed in the possible reformation of Washington, Texas independence, always a thought tucked-away in his mind, “became a real possibility.” And after listening to the merited arguments of the TNM, that’s when Don decided to work towards independence from Washington.
A person listening to that would hopefully relate to his story. If told well, they would recognize the common concerns that they share as well as common connections (such as having kids or grandkids), and ultimately agree that Don’s solution is the one that should be pursued.
You can watch the entire session below.