Most Americans on the left and the right are at least somewhat familiar with the term “echo chamber.” Many believe that our tendency to embrace our confirmation biases is one of the principal causes of the de-evolution of America’s political discourse.
Even in the conservative movement, we have our commonly-held beliefs and misconceptions that are damaging our cause. Indeed, the fact that many of us do more to promote these ideas than to encourage critical thought is one of the reasons why conservatives have had so much difficulty seizing more ground in the culture war.
This tendency to perpetuate familiar conservative cultural tropes without taking the time to evaluate our premises is indicative of a social phenomenon I have called “The Echo Chamber of Commerce” (ECC).
What Is The Echo Chamber Of Commerce?
You might be wondering: What exactly is the Echo Chamber of Commerce? Well, you’re in luck because I’m going to explain it to you.
The Echo Chamber of Commerce is a cultural phenomenon that involves particular political groups that share a common set of ideas, principles, and most importantly, talking points. It is an invisible association designed to protect and promote the commonly-accepted beliefs of their particular political persuasion without bothering to question them.
As you might already know, the notion of the echo chamber refers to the tendency of Americans to seek out sources that confirm their views instead of looking at others who might contradict their beliefs. We all do this, don’t we? Conservatives typically rely on news outlets like Fox News, The National Review, the Daily Wire, and others. On the left, people look at any television news outlet except Fox News, and read The Hill, The Daily Beast, and others.
However, the Echo Chamber of Commerce goes deeper, encouraging people to remain committed to only the ideas and conceptions that are acceptable to their particular echo chamber bubble. Instead of questioning the suppositions of high-profile conservative influencers, we take their utterances as gospel.
Need an example? Look at the attitude Republicans have about inner cities and minority voters who overwhelmingly support Democrats. Conservatives who dare to speak out against the GOP’s practice of ignoring inner city communities might be accused of engaging in identity politics.
The ECC is a wonderful bubble for people who don’t want to challenge their parties with new ideas. Instead, they just want to parrot the same talking points as their leaders, regardless of whether they are valid.
The Conservative Echo Chamber Of Commerce
For right-leaning Americans, the Echo Chamber of Commerce has caused many to promote practices and strategies that are not necessarily beneficial for the conservative movement. Indeed, it seems that almost nobody on the right is willing to step up and questions the faulty beliefs that are commonly held by many on the right.
Of course, this doesn’t happen because people are afraid to express their views. It is more likely a result of people failing to think outside the current dogma of the political right. It is important to note that I am not talking about adopting left-wing views — I’m talking about exploring ideas that will enable us to more effectively promote conservatism in the government and in the culture.
Here’s an example. Conservatives have long believed that focusing on rural and suburban white voters is the most effective way for them to win at the polls. For decades, this has been a winning strategy — but over the long term, it will result in the GOP fading into irrelevance. This approach has not taken into account the rapidly changing demographics of the United States, and has also allowed the left to succeed in their efforts to paint conservatives as bigots.
Going forward, the GOP needs to focus on building a more inclusive party. Unfortunately, the majority of people on the right have not yet figured this out, and those who dare to point out the inevitable outcome are seen as people who want to use the left’s version of identity politics. Any suggestion that the GOP focuses on inner city communities is met with “we should appeal to everyone equally” or “why can’t they just come to us?”
Of course, everyone agrees that conservatives should court everyone equally, but the problem many have missed is that we are not currently putting as much effort into influencing minority voters as we are into appealing to whites. Moreover, many prominent conservatives have shown a troubling lack of knowledge when it comes to inner city dwellers. Even worse, some do not seem interested in learning. Unfortunately, they think that knowing statistics about these communities is more important than speaking to these individuals face to face.
Breaking Out Of The Echo Chamber Of Commerce
I thought about trying to come up with a way to do away with the ECC, but I do not believe this is possible. Throughout history, people have latched on to particular groups or movements with which they have felt a sense of commonality, and while they do not necessarily follow these movements blindly, they do not take the time to think outside the box. However, there is an alternative.
Perhaps instead of trying to destroy the Echo Chamber of Commerce, it would be better to influence it. We can use the chamber to distribute our ideas. This means exposing as many people to your views as possible. Don’t be afraid to introduce suggestions that you know will receive some pushback.
Remember, we’re not rabid leftists who can’t handle alternative viewpoints. Chances are, you’re not going to be called a bigot for disagreeing with someone on the right. It’s also not likely that conservatives will try to silence you when you express a different point of view.
If you’re a conservative, there is no doubt that you want the movement to succeed. You likely understand the importance of becoming more dominant in the culture. Perhaps you have realized that the way to earn more influence does not lie in embracing the practices of the past. It is now time for a new approach, a fresh way to view American society and the role conservatism must fill. Let’s not allow the Echo Chamber of Commerce to influence us. Instead, let’s influence it.