Jim Treacher at the Daily Caller highlights this eye-opening interview between conservative radio host Dana Loesch and musician Dez Dickerson. Anyone who grew up during the MTV craze of the Eighties would instantly recognize Dickerson from his appearance in classic Prince music videos like “1999.” (Few things make me feel older than remembering when 1999 was the distant future, but I digress.)
As it turns out, Dickerson is a thoughtful conservative, with a lot to say about reaching out to young people and shaping the culture. I’m second to none in my general disdain for empty-headed celebrity politicking, but there are some entertainers on both the Left and Right who have thought seriously about momentous issues and can offer intelligent arguments. Dickerson definitely fits into that camp. I’ve listened to high-powered all-star political think tank directors who spoke with less insight and clarity than he does in this interview.
His discussion of “branding” is interesting, particularly to anyone who was watched the Left constantly re-brand itself every few years. They have long understood exactly what Dickerson is saying here: labels like “liberal” and “conservative” become toxic, and frankly seem tedious, to young people. New brands, labels, and language must be employed to keep ideas fresh and appealing.
That’s not a case for regarding young people as butterflies whose short attention spans are easily manipulated using shallow linguistic tricks. Deep and powerful ideas are explored and strengthened as each new generation re-discovers them, and language is part of that exploration. Crafting new language and passing it around the proverbial campfire – which now burns on an Internet campground that young people rarely leave during their waking hours – is part of how old intellectual treasures are polished and renewed. Dickerson is a musician, and therefore a storyteller, and storytellers have always understood the need to renew ancient themes and tales, so that each new generation enjoys the thrill of re-discovering them. Our most powerful and enduring stories have been told for “the very first time” many times over the ages.
That’s true of ideological themes as well. Every new generation should unearth essential truths, like Bastiat’s Broken Window Fallacy, with their own language and cultural implements. That’s how wisdom is transmitted from one generation to the next. The transmission belt was damaged during the Sixties, and the generations that followed have suffered for it, but the system can be repaired. As Dickerson says, “the truth will work, if we work it.”
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