Their story, yours and mine — it’s what we all carry with us on this trip we take, and we owe it to each other to respect our stories and learn from them. —William Carlos Williams
We thriving at the right of center do a few things right, if we don’t say so ourselves. We are great at crunching numbers, finding the bottom line, and coming up with strong solutions to problems. What we’re not so great at is making people care about the people behind all the numbers–or even showcasing that there actually are people behind the numbers and that’s why the numbers matter at all. Instead we tend to pummel audiences with charts and graphs, studies and statistics, and remain smug in the persuasiveness of our black and white reports–all while boring said audiences over such tedious information.
Finally some folks on the Right are changing this dynamic. Through a new series of web videos released today, called “Comeback,” Opportunity Lives, a news website that eschews traditional stories of conflict in favor of “discovering and highlighting real-life success stories and solutions across America” is hoping to change the political debate and influence culture not through a 150-page finance report but stories of people who have made a comeback because of our free enterprise system. This couldn’t arrive at a more crucial time.
The problem is while we have the facts and figures straight, we fail to put a face on the issues, to tell the human stories of struggle, and thus breathe life into an issue, persuade a mind and a heart, and spur those who might join the ranks of our ideological army. From the Greeks to Shakespeare to Mark Twain, for centuries, cultures have been telling stories to convey truths, stir hearts, persuade minds and generate action.
Our friends on the other side of the aisle do this really well. Kudos, liberal storytellers–your YouTube videos, documentaries, and mini-series seeks to inform, move, and persuade through the emotional depth of story. The facts though are typically misguided or misrepresented within that framework, and where conservatives must depart.
The stories in “Comeback” cover a gamut of the type of real, pressing issues Americans are facing today like income equality, addiction, and crime–yet a conservative ideology created life-changing solutions. They videography is crisp and edgy, its subjects are up-close, personal and admittedly frustrated, if not broken. Now that he’s not in the running, Congressman Paul Ryan is putting his notoriety to good use and makes a cameo in the videos.
The trailer of the first video, released at midnight, shows a variety of men and women living in difficult situations–one young woman admits she is working the streets at night in order to aid her drug habit–and the devastating impact these struggles have on their future. Unlike many documentaries though, that reel you in with a sob story only to claim it was all a Republican’s fault (and the solution is to elect more Democrats), the series shows how a free market enterprise, combined with an encouraging support system, can and has changed the trajectory of these people’s lives.
As one man says in the trailer, “Nothing is more powerful than a witness” and these stories prove to be powerful indeed. Powerful reminders of the resilience of the human spirit despite the depth of human depravity; that no matter how far people go towards a life of despair, a life of hope still awaits. These are people who have gone from convicts to capitalists: Instead of blame, we see personal responsibility; instead of deceit, we see transparency; instead of idleness, we see hard work.
The videos show, as one man said, that “Social enterprises led by grassroots organizations, which if supported and empowered, help people who would otherwise be stuck in poverty.” Really: Is there a better story than the story of redemption?