I plan to write a more robust blog on political discourse in this country and the difference between passion and ignorance…I also plan to talk about the value of logic, reasoning, building and substantiating a strong argument and the best way to appeal to the people that you wish to reach. The best way to win a debate is to fully understand the argument of your opponent and remove it. I have seen a lot of bulletins floating around that are nothing more than ‘preaching to the choir’, however the collateral damage is that it turns off who you really need to reach in these final weeks…the few still making up their minds.
Saying, “McCain is a cock and Palin is a cunt” is sure to make your friends giggle who support your World view (but you already know how they are going to vote anyway), however also has the consequence of causing those who may still be able to be swayed to roll their eyes and turn away. Sarcasm, passion & humor are all fine, I use them often…but using the same rhetoric, language and tactics that you accuse the other side of employing, well…let’s just say it’s a little ironic, perhaps hypocritical. Turn their argument against them, but don’t use their argument to support your own point. In my book, nothing beats a well supported argument (and a little humor) to appeal to someone who does not want to be preached to / forced to agree…but rather, allowed to feel as though you have given them the facts and that they came up with the conclusion on their own. Compare it to how children generally react when their parents tell them what to do…
I share excerpts from a message that I sent a close friend whose opinion I value and respect and she agrees:
I gave a speech tonight about politics, the election and my belief that we are in a period of our history where we see the collision of the ‘right man’ and the ‘right time’ (Lincoln / Civil War, FDR / Depression & WWII, JFK / Cuban Missile Crisis etc) finally aligning, roughly 750 people attended. The big thing for me is that I was so angry and frustrated after the 2004 election…that is the reason why I grabbed a microphone and started fighting back four years ago. Not saying this to congratulate myself, but to explain that my anxiety is at this level due to the recognition that the last 4 years of my life have been past and prologue to what will happen in 3 weeks. I started the show before the election and it will continue after the election, however after over 200 shows / 3000+ hours and trying to change the way people think and view the issues over the years, I hope enough have been reached to make a difference.
It then became volunteering, training volunteers, sitting on porches and in living rooms with people discussing the candidates and issues, hoping to change minds or sway people to Obama. I have 17 ‘sit-downs’ scheduled for this weekend alone, that volunteers set me up for with people they encountered who said they have more questions, were undecided…many of them invite their friends, family and neighbors to attend when I come over, which I love. I start to feel tired, worn out, maybe I could skip a couple…then the thought creeps in of the day after, on Nov 5th, with a President-Elect McCain and that feeling of exhaustion goes away and I am invigorated again.
I hope that logic, reasoning, passion and a good argument is what reaches the most people, as that is my hope for this election and those who will lead us.
Part of my argument (and preface) in the beginning of the speech, was that my belief was not that of a blind ideologue following the tenets of a particular party and their platform, but wholly about the man, regardless of party. I belong to neither party, am a registered Independent and therefore this election (for me) is not about ‘my team’ winning, as I belong to no such team, but my country winning by finally electing a leader it deserves, in order to live up to it’s responsibility and promise.
I have received hundreds of emails over the years from Republicans and Independents who, based upon passion, logic and reasoning heard on my talk show, have decided to support Obama. Not to mention thousands of emails from others all over the World who have become interested in politics over the last 4 years that I have been doing Stimulated Boredom.
Point being is that it is easy to preach to the choir, you will never hear a dissenting opinion from them…but in my opinion, the most important people to reach are those that are still making up their mind and can still be reached. Try sitting in the middle of a living room with people who have good questions, are perhaps misinformed and the power that comes with being able to address each concern and question to the point that they are taking a second look at your candidate and perhaps have made up their mind.
Also, beware of becoming ‘cocky’ and the Reverse Bradley Effect. People assuming that the lead in polls is big enough to ensure victory, can have the reverse effect of those less passionate supporters (less passionate than you) staying home, as they assume the election is locked up. In political science, you want a slim enough lead to keep people enthusiastic and passionate to get out and vote, versus becoming complacent, only to realize that the other guy snuck up on election day.
More on this to come,