Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How Democrats Could Talk So Republicans Would (Maybe) Listen

I have heard a lot about the forty-whatever percent of people that the Republicans write off, or that the Democrats write off.  These are the people who, supposedly, won't be swayed to vote for somebody of the opposite party.  So, during campaigns, I have heard that candidates speak either to their own constituents, or to the small percentage of the population looked upon as the "swing vote."

This is all understandable.  An election is, after all, a contest.  In a contest, one hopes to win.  In a contest, one employs strategies that will maximize one's chances of victory.  That is the nature of a contest.

But, I think this is too simplistic of a way to look at things.  There are, after all, people like me.  People who, even though they are viewed as having strong and unwavering political leanings, can actually be counted upon to listen fairly to both sides of an issue.  For example, I have never actually met any candidates for political office, except for Richard I-Can't-Remember-His-Last-Name, who was the mayor of Redwood City when I was a young girl.  He went to our church, and he made sure to show up quite regularly during his campaign.  I probably remember him most because I sorta had a crush on his rather hot son, who was a couple of years older than me, and was a kick-ass guitar player and drummer.  Now, Richard I-Can't-Remember-His-Last-Name was a Democrat.  And, if I had been old enough to vote, I probably would have voted for him, regardless of my more conservative views.  Not because of his son the rock star, but because I really liked him (Richard, that is).  He was a very good guy.  I realize I have rambled a tad bit here, but my point is this:  Even though I have always been pretty conservative and traditional, I have a soft spot for the more liberal way of looking at things, especially when those more liberal ways of looking at things are espoused by good and trustworthy people.  I was just telling my son this morning (and I think maybe he was not very happy with me, but "oh, well") that I really love the liberals nowadays.  Especially the young ones.  They are full of good-hearted, enthusiastic idealism.  They are joyful and full of fun.  They really do care about freedom and equality and justice.  They have hearts for the poor and marginalized.  They are willing to make personal sacrifices for others.  And they have softened my Republican heart a little bit.  They have made me take a second look at certain positions that they hold.  They have helped me regard certain things from a different angle or in a new light.  They have helped me to achieve a personal spirit of bipartisanship, if it is possible to have a "personal" spirit of bipartisanship.

In listening to these lovely young liberals, though, I do have a little bit of advice. 

First.  Do not write off us old fart conservatives.  Don't write off the young conservatives, either.

Second.  Please be sensitive to the "fear-mongering" employed by some of the more extreme conservatives to alienate people to your viewpoints.  For instance, sometime during the 2008 election, a rather respected conservative blogger put up a picture of what looked like a concentration camp and wrote a piece implying that Obama was planning to build camps in which to house all of us annoying Christians.  Did I believe this?  No.  My husband even wrote to this man, telling him that a respected blogger such as himself shouldn't be engaging in such "bullshit" (my word).  Did my husband get a reply?  No.  The thing is, though, that a lot of conservative people believe this hogwash, especially when it is put forth by a fellow "Christian."  So, if you -- dear liberals -- are a bit sensitive to this, I believe it would be helpful.  And this leads me to my next point.

Third.  (Admission.  The lovely lady who runs "Ben McKenzie News" reported on Mr. McKenzie's activities while he was campaigning for Obama during 2012.  She posted a couple of radio interviews, several pictures, and a TV ad.  I looked at these things, and this is where some of this advice comes from.)  I may be wrong here, but it is my feeling that if you call yourselves "surrogates" for Obama, you will just freak a lot of conservatives out.  "Surrogates" does not have a lot of good connotations for conservatives.  It brings to mind surrogate motherhood, which a lot of conservatives frown upon.  It also sounds very "sci-fi," if you will, conjuring up images akin to "1984."  I understand what you are trying to say when you use this term.  It means you are standing in for the president and presenting his ideas to people, as he would present them.  But, if you could come up with another term, it might be helpful.  Also, I think it might be beneficial if, when explaining Mr. Obama's views, you did not use his exact vocabulary all the time.  As in, we are "chatting with folks."  Mr. Obama uses the words "chatting" and "folks" often.  And I know that when you -- on the campaign trail -- also use these words, you are simply reiterating and "driving home" his messages.  The thing is, to conservatives who might otherwise listen to you, this might be a little off-putting.  It may sound to them a bit like you are not using your own brains, but have instead had your wills co-opted by Mr. Obama.  Now, I know you have not had your wills co-opted, and I hope I am not pissing you all off here.  It's just that I have been around a lot of conservatives for a long time, and I have some experience with how many of them react to things.

Of course, I realize that Mr. Obama won't be campaigning in 2016, so a lot of these points might seem like too little, too late.  But, maybe there are lessons to be learned when planning Mrs. Clinton's campaign.  And, frankly, I like Mrs. Clinton.  A lot.  I did not much care for her back in '92, but I have watched her really come into her own, and I think she has her head screwed on right.  So, if an old fart Republican like me might be swayed to even consider voting for Mrs. Clinton, there may actually be some hope in not writing off that forty-whatever percent of us you might consider to be unreachable.  And even if it doesn't seem to be worth your time and effort and dollars to try to get our votes, it might be a little investment in the future of our country to craft your message in such a way that enables all of us to see each other more positively and work together more constructively.

And, to be fair, do I think Republicans need to talk differently so that Democrats would (maybe) listen?  Yes, I do.  But, I didn't feel like writing about that today.  I felt like writing about this.  I'll probably write about the other side of the coin at some point, as well. ;-)


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