No big deal, I didn't change his vote, but we actually had a discussion. He's a bright guy, ten years my senior which makes him really old! a strong supporter of Israel having family living there, which is probably his main focus. I may have made an extra effort in talking to him, as another Republican friend and I have had a rather deep breach because of our political positions, and I felt a need to find a way to express my views while maintaining a friendship.
Here were some of the most important elements in this hour long conversation. First, I made the distinction between this Republican party and those of earlier decades, when there was a progressive wing, called the Rockefeller or Jacob Javitts contingent. I then described how this version would not accept Richard Nixon in the party, who tried to get universal health care and a negative income tax enacted.
When he asked why I disliked Paul Ryan, I explained that he is an idealog, not of the Economist Fredrich Heyak as he claims, but Ayn Rand. And I summarized Rand as someone who so admires the independent man, the John Galts, that those who don't make it should be allowed to suffer and die. I then asked him, if this is what they really deep down believe then if a woman is pregnant and is destitute and doesn't want her child to suffer, and if government isn't there to make the infant's life bearable, what would a real Randian party propose.
I waited for his response, as he had admitted he helped his own child get an abortion, as he would want for others, which as I explained to him put him at odds with the Republican party. Finally, he responded, "They would allow the child to be aborted."
With that there was a connection. I explained that the merger of Randian radical conservationism doesn't fit with fundamentalist Christianity.
He then fell back on his Limbaugh Fox indoctrination saying, "Isn't it true that Obama doing socialist stuff, trying to make everyone dependent of government to solve all their problems" I thought for a bit and then said, "Yes, in the case of health care, which like in every other wealth country people do not have to live their lives in fear of sickness or injury destroying not only their own lives but those dependent on them."
He thought a bit, and sort shook his head in agreement. I went on describing that Obama's plan still kept private doctors and most every other part of the medical establshiment, but it does lessen this fear, and this is a good thing.
We got onto foreign affairs, and his belief that Obama was weak which I responded by polls of many countries showing he and our country are more accepted now than under the previous administration. The main point is that it is possible to have this type of conversation. I don't think it is to the other person whom I had the breach with, although it could yet turn out to be, but it was with this one. It only worked because I could not let myself have another hostile outcome, so I showed him respect, acknowledging, for instance, that the Obama administration may have ramped up environmental regulations too much, saying, "You're the expert (an environmental engineer) and you know more about this than I do"
I write this to say that this kind of conversation can be both intellectually and emotionally satisfying, something that is valueable during this contentious time. With affection and respect, there are those who can be brought to understand a different picture. It may help that I personally have negative response to strident ideological based political views of both the left and the right. That allows me to be sincere when I tell him that on balance this is why I support Obama. The conversation was about an hour, but I could have continued much longer, as I'm fully aware of the defects of the Democratic party, the President and our political system, and didn't have a need to try to demolish my friend's views when we discussed the issues.
If only all political discussions could be like this.