How Do You Eat an Elephant?

There is a very old category of jokes that mock the listener by asking them a question.  The target is asked questions and the target immediately assumes that it must be a “trick” question.  Two such questions come to mind immediately (since my grandfather took delight in tormenting me with them):  “Why did the chicken cross the road?” and “Why do firemen wear red suspenders?”

There must be some deep seated suspicion that when one is asked such a seemingly simple question, the answer must be extraordinarily obscure, otherwise, why would such a question be asked in the first place.  Perhaps Charles Krauthammer could explain the psychological implications of this, but for now let’s just take it as a given.

So now we come to the title question of this article.  How Do You Eat an Elephant?  And the correct answer is the obvious one – One bite at a time.

As we gear up for the 2014 mid-term elections and the festivities that will surround the 2016 Presidential election circus, conservatives are faced with answering the question – How do we explain that Democrats and RINOs are lying to the voters?  The answer should be just as obvious as the one about eating an elephant.  Tell the truth.  Keep telling the truth.  Keep calling out the Democrats and RINOs who are more interested in what they personally stand to gain versus what they are supposed to be gaining for the people who vote for them.

The real trick is getting the average voter listen to the truth, and we can only do that by feeding them the truth exactly as if it were an elephant, which means one bite at a time.

So to all those who fancy themselves to be great orators, and those writers whose idea of a succinct article is one that is roughly the same length as War and Peace, take this admonition to heart.

We all recently suffered through Barack Obama’s latest State of the Union performance, and we have to ask ourselves this – How long did it take for your eyes to glaze over?  We, the conservative heart of America, need to keep the audience awake and engaged whether we are speaking or writing.  We cannot bore voters.  We cannot treat them as if they were idiots who know nothing.

But neither can we assume that they are as expert as some of you undoubtedly are in a particular field.  So those of us who write or speak have to put a tight rein on our egos and the understandable urge to display our incredibly brilliant minds.

For the next two years the only place for that kind of behavior is at a convention of Barack Obama impersonators.

Speakers, whether addressing a local Tea Party gathering, or candidates addressing a national audience have to get past the desire to lecture, hector, browbeat, nag or harangue.  Try speaking as if you just stopped cutting the grass to get a drink of water and your neighbor just wandered over.  Ask yourself (before you open your mouths), how would Ronald Reagan have phrased this?  We already know how Obama and the Progressives would have phrased it, and the words racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic and the phrase War on Women would be worked into every paragraph.  Even if the question was about tax policies.

Don’t do that.  No matter how cool a phrase has been viewed by a focus group, don’t use it more often than once every fortnight.  (Yeah, I know, I know.  Really Jim?  Fortnight?  Well, I never had a chance to use a word like “fortnight” before, so put up with it will ya?)

That little aside about using a word like “fortnight” is exactly the tone I’ve been trying to convey.  Get your audience to laugh with you, and they are going to listen more closely to the rest of what you have to say, and be more willing to accept it or at least think about it.  See how often Reagan used the same technique.

Keep each speech or article on a single subject.  Better yet, a single aspect of a single subject.  Craft the communication to provide “sound bites”, even if no cameras are present.  There’s an old adage in business that a happy customer will tell two or three people at most that they had a good experience.  If they’re not happy, that number jumps above ten very quickly.  You want to give the audience phrases that will stick in their minds, and be repeated to those folk who missed hearing your speech or seeing your article.

That’s the one idea that I going to address today, so here ends the lesson.


About Jim Yardley

Retired after 30 years as a financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a two-tour Vietnam veteran, and independent voter.
Gallery | This entry was posted in 2014 election, 2016 election, Barack Obama, Democrats, Elections, House of Representatives, Humor, Observing Our Culture, Politics, Republicans, Senate, Tea_Parties and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How Do You Eat an Elephant?

  1. kathy says:

    great advice and love the word fortnight! Hope those who make speeches take this counsel.

  2. Occam's Half-round Mill Bastard File says:

    Long ago, when I was but a wee lad and they were
    still beta-testing dirt, I would, on a regular basis, take
    a shortcut to wherever by cutting through my uncle’s
    back yard. I would usually find him at his workbench,
    surrounded by clean, sharp, well-organized tools,
    sipping coffee and smoking those God-awful lung-
    busting Camels while he contemplated some non-
    working piece of machinery.

    I’d always wave and ask, “How’s it going, Uncle?”

    He’d wave and reply, “Like a cat eating a grindstone.”

    I’ve spent most of my adult life looking in the accessible
    corners of the world for The Answers, those vaguely
    Zen-like aphorisms that can, encountered at the right
    time and place, actually help one change one’s self.

    Like Dorothy, I failed to recognize what was in my
    own back yard all along.

    Molon labe, Brother.

    (And you might try using sennight next time the Imp
    of the Perverse whispers in your ear.)

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