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Have you ever found yourself in a conversation with someone with normal auditory acuity, who speaks the same language as you, in a space free from distraction, who cannot hear a word you're saying?

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Still high on Moral Monday mojo, I took the woozles for a walk on Tuesday. A neighbor up the street had the same idea, and we stopped to exchange pleasantries. What happened next is my FP tonight.

Let's call her Connie. Our conversation started with the weather and our dogs, who were all even happier than we were to see the rain finally clear. Without thinking, I mentioned that DH and I had been at the Moral Monday protest uptown and the weather was perfect.

Connie's always seemed cool enough. Like me, she's a middle-aged white female RN with a kitchen garden, a fuel-efficient car, and a love of dogs. I assumed she was a progressive, or at least a Democrat. We all know what happens when you do that. Our conversation is paraphrased to the best of my memory.

She lowered her gaze and the nice fell from her face. "What is it with this voter ID nonsense, anyway? Why is it such a problem to get an ID? How do they cash checks or fly?"

Oral arguments are not my strong suit. I express myself much better in writing than verbally, especially in conflict situations. Before I could gather and express a response, Connie continued, "I'm 50-something years old. I've always had ID, because I went to school and work and drive. What do these people do all day that they can't have a proper ID like everyone else?"

At this point the ASS in assume comes into play, right across my forehead. I've clearly misunderestimated Connie's conservatism.

Still, I tried to respond in good faith. This diary from AdamB immediately sprung to mind, and I did my best to relate Patricia Norton's story Mrs. Norton testified about her struggle as an elderly person with limited mobility to navigate the literal legwork of obtaining an approved photo ID in Pennsylvania. She arrived at PennDOT's facility to a whole new set of problems.
Although PennDOT is supposed to provide non-driver photo IDs free of charge to people who need them for voting purposes, PennDOT personnel told Mrs. Norton that she would have to pay $13.50 for an ID. Mrs. Norton offered $13.50 in cash, but was told that she would have to pay by check or money order. To buy a money order, Mrs. Norton would have to get back in her friends’ car, ride to another location, and repeat the trip back to PennDOT. She lacked the physical stamina for such a trip and reluctantly went home empty-handed. Since then, she has been unable to return to PennDOT, as her health has worsened and as it is difficult for her to impose repeatedly on her friends for long rides.

If the Voter ID law takes full effect, Mrs. Norton will be disenfranchised. She will still be able to travel to the polling place down the street that she has frequented for 48 years, but she will be forbidden to cast a ballot, because PennDOT has made it too difficult for her to obtain a photo ID. Click here to watch Mrs. Norton’s video testimony.

Maybe such a story would give Connie pause as a nurse, if not a human being. It didn't. She doubled down. "I've had photo ID my whole life. How do you even function in the world without photo ID? I'm tired of all this whining, it's all the freeloaders, they don't work anyway so let them go out and get ID's like normal people."

She hadn't heard a thing I said, and I knew it instantly. It wasn't worth pursuing. My restless dogs offered an elegant out, which I took. Only after reading this excellent diary by akadjian did it all start to make sense.

Connie may not be an Internet troll, but she was reading from the same playbook. akadjian puts it all together here:

From Ann Coulter's How to Talk To A Liberal (If You Must)
You must outrage the enemy. If the liberal you’re arguing with doesn’t become speechless with sputtering, impotent rage, you’re not doing it right.  People don’t get angry when lies are told about them; they get angry when the truth is told about them. If you are not being called outrageous by liberals, you’re not being outrageous enough. Start with the maximum assertion about liberals and then push the envelope, because, as we know, their evil is incalculable.
Speechless is the key word here.

The goal is to throw you off your argument. And we're all familiar with how: straw men, changing the subject, accusation, name calling, moving the goalposts, etc, etc.

Now the reason conservatives choose this tactic is part two of a two-part strategy. Part one is: produce a crystal clear message.

You more likely know this as the conservative echo chamber. Consultants like Frank Luntz use focus groups to craft messages which appeal to broad swaths of the American public: personal responsibility, family values, less taxes, less regulation, smaller government, etc.

Part two is: disrupting the arguments of your enemies.

It's a two-pronged strategy to increase the clarity of your message. One, you come up with the clearest message possible. Two, you turn the enemy's message into noise.

This is how conservatives manage to have the best messaging in America. Whether you agree or disagree with their viewpoint, it's hard to deny that you know what they it is.

I'm not agreeing one way or another with the actual message itself. I'm simply describing their strategy for getting their message across as strongly as possible.  

Sound familiar? When she heard the words "Moral Monday," Connie immediately seized upon a single issue: voter ID. Never mind the diversity of causes advocated by Moral Monday protestors. Too complicated. She had a crystal clear message, which boiled down to "people who don't have photo ID are probably lazy freeloaders or their lives would look more like mine."

That's right, Connie. Your charmed little life as an able mind-and-bodied, college-educated, gainfully employed, married white female with half an acre and frequent flyer status is "normal." Your life is flush with privileges you don't even realize you were born with. Gag me with a silver spoon.

Like a good liberal, I responded calmly, armed with facts. Like a good conservative, she turned my rebuttal into noise by letting me have my say, completely disregarding it, then reiterating her original point: I, Connie, represent all that is good and right in the USA, and "those people" don't. In other words, disrupting the arguments of your enemies.

I don't think Connie and I are going to be friends. Just like with my parents and my college BFF, I don't have any answers. Some of us just can't seem to hear each other.

The floor is yours. WYFP?

Originally posted to SteelerGrrl on Sat Aug 24, 2013 at 04:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by WYFP?.

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