This diary is not the usual breaking report or even a rant. I'm hoping instead to start a discussion and I hope some of you will contribute and participate.
We need to bring this country together. The Republican field is so weak and ridiculous that we may have a real opportunity to break through to some of them in a way that we have not been able to before. Not everyone, of course. But some of them. In fact, in many diaries I’ve seen people posting that their RW friends/relatives/acquaintances have already concluded that the Republicans are crazy and/or evil. I really hope that these people will stop by and participate.
What I want to discuss is the art of persuasion – how to convince people to vote for democrats – as opposed to futile talking ourselves blue in the face. No one method will work for everyone. I’ve got some suggestions below.
Presentation of Facts
Now, some think that we should just be able to present the facts and that they should speak for themselves. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work. We have been talking ourselves blue without making much impact. There are many reasons why. Some of them have learned to be angry or afraid – very intense emotional states – that they cling to them. Their friends may all hold these views, and so if they try to break away, they will be ostracized. There’s also the recent study that these people are often less intelligent or less informed. All of this may mean that starting with facts isn’t the way to go.
Of course, facts are very useful. Repetition of them does sink in occasionally.
Humor is something that has been magnificent and sometimes very useful. The SNL skits on Palin really exposed her for what she was. Humor has also served to entertain us and comfort us in the bad times.
But I think humor has a downside as well. Those being mocked will generally hate it, and their supporters may curl up tighter and become defensive and angry. It makes it harder to reach out to these people because they may think they will be laughed at.
Fear is something the other side has used with extreme effectiveness. However, they may have a harder time working up some aspects of terror this time around. It is harder to argue that Obama is planning to join up with Bill Ayers and bomb the Pentagon when he’s made no attempt to do so in the last three years, or even that he’s a Muslim terrorist when, on his watch the forces have killed Osama bin Laden, rescued several Americans from Somali pirates and freed some unlucky hikers from Iran.
Yet fear is something we can use, quite legitimately. We can use it to talk about threats to Social Security, birth control, Medicare, unions and even the safety of bridges and food if the government that is supposed to inspect such things is forced to shrink some more. We can use this because the facts support us. I’m one of those people who really prefer hope to fear, but there are plenty of people who don’t function that way and so we need to approach them differently.
I want to share some principles I was reading about at another website.
Some techniques for making your voice heard from Dr. Robert Cialdini, professor of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University. In his seminal book, Influence, Cialdini covers six “weapons of influence” that are hardwired into our social and cognitive minds. In other words, we can’t help but behave in accordance with these laws of social interaction. Now, this is from a social networking site but the same principles should work for us.
Reciprocity is an interesting technique. Find a Republican, and instead of starting with an argument, do something nice for that person.
Used more positively and constructively, if you focus on initiating reciprocity by providing no-strings-attached value to those in your network, you’ll ultimately wield far more influence. Not because the gift economy is a new fad in marketing, but because following the law of reciprocity is how we’re wired as humans.This is important because it makes you seem more like a human being than just the enemy. For example, if you know a Republican, you could compliment them (sincerely!) on whatever they’re most proud of (as long as it isn’t against your principles). They are probably starving for praise on this item or skill – it could be their car, their cooking, their singing, their garden, whatever. And because they will want to accept that compliment, the fact that you’re a liberal will lose some of its horror. By extension, all liberals will start to lose some of their horror.
We most prefer to say yes to people we know and like,” says Cialdini. Extensions of this principle are:Provide friendship and support. One reason that the RW stay so tightly balled up is because it’s almost a cult – they have nowhere else to go.
Physical attractiveness creates a halo effect and typically invokes the principle of liking;
We like people who are similar to us;
We like people who compliment us;
We like things that are familiar to us;
Cooperation toward joint efforts inspires increased liking;
An innocent association with either bad or good things will influence how people feel about us.
I'd love to read others' suggestions and especially their experiences. What has worked for you and what has worked on others? Let's talk others blue instead of ourselves.