If you want to know what passion is, just go to a progressive group’s Facebook page. Within an hour of a post, there will be hundreds of comments. This is great. What is not great is that, very often, there are derisive and vitriolic comments aimed at the Republican party – the people, the leaders and the ideology. What is forgotten in the heat of passion is that whenever Democrats and Republicans are fighting against each other, the 1% are laughing. (Later in the article, there is a nuanced definition of the 1%, since it’s not helpful to vilify all of them.)
Rather than the 99% fighting the 1%, the reality in America is … 40% are fighting another 40%, some are neutral and the 1% are laughing.
Some readers may say, “Come on! How can you not detest Donald Trump and his followers, not make fun of Fox News and not hate those evil Republican politicians who are constantly blocking good legislation?”
Well, let’s take a step back and realize that politics is not a winner-take-all sport. Politics is more like a marriage. Your party needs to work with the opposition to get things done, especially in a divided nation and a divided Congress where preventing a legislation is a million times easier than passing a legislation.
Also, one must realize that most of the Democratic politicians are beholden to the same corporate and special interests as the Republicans – there is one puppet master behind two puppets. How many Democrats support labeling, let alone banning, GMO? How many Democrats support NAFTA, TPP or endless wars while paying lip service to unions, manufacturing jobs and peace? How many Democrats will support legislation to end the Federal Reserve Bank? How many Democrats get lucrative jobs as lobbyists after they leave politics? So let’s not get too attached to the political party apparatus.
Progressives must find a way to bury the hatchet and convince Joe Schmoe Republicans and Libertarians to join the fight for America. Here are four simple rules of engagement to deal with our comrades of different political hues:
Focus on the Problem, Not the Politics
Conversations between the two sides often come down to this: I am gonna prove you wrong and show the world how crazy you are. This confrontational approach may work well on TV, but does nothing to bring people together in real life.
Take for example, immigration. A conservative may support building a wall along the Mexican border. But rather than rejecting this as an outrageous proposition, if you turn it into a conversation about immigration policies – how many people should we allow, what should be the background or skill set etc. – the conversation becomes more intellectual and less emotional. It’s a lot easier to compromise on numbers and strategies than on ideologies.
Even mainstream publications such as Huffington Post use very incendiary language to attack the Republican candidates, using loaded words such as racist, bigot, sexist or Islamaphobic. These may get a lot of people to click on the article and thus boost the ad revenue for HuffPo, but it’s disastrous for America.
As Kierkegaard (presumably) said, “If you label me, you negate me.” So let’s talk to someone without labeling or insulting them. Liberals are very kind and nice in many areas, taking special care to not offend peoples’ feelings, so this suggestion shouldn’t be difficult.
Compromise and Find Common Ground
Obstinacy yields obstinacy. If we start off with an attitude of I will not yield an inch, the other person will have no choice but to mirror us. Try saying Yeah, Bernie Sanders is not perfect, and I wish he would do some things different, and you will be pleasantly surprised how many Republicans open up to you. By the way, here is an excerpt from an article about one of Trump’s campaign speech:
He railed against oil companies. And insurance companies. And defense contractors. And he set himself against a political system that he said allows big-money corporate “bloodsuckers” to control the government with campaign contributions.
Those are several shared interests and political goals that a Bernie fan and a Trump fan can constructively talk about.
Shift the Topic to 1%
A lot of the working class Republicans know that they are voting against their interests, just like how many Democrats remain silent about the liberal Wall Street politicians. Thus, what we have is a huge section of America voting for the lesser evil, purely based on fear, exaggerated differences and divisive social issues.
Just know that everyone understands that the system is rigged against the ordinary American. Approached in the right way, a Republican can be your ally in the much needed national movement.
Clarifying the 1%
Finally, a note on the 1%.Most of the 1% are really smart, nice people who work as doctors, lawyers, small business owners etc. There are some lobbyists and corporate management people who may be the foot soldiers of the rigged system, but most of them are too busy doing their jobs to think about the big picture. For example, a lawyer at Monsanto or a VP of a defense contractor will just find ways to not think about their actions. Chalk it up to human psychology.
The true culprits are the 1% of the 1% — the Top 0.01% that form the genuine ruling class with powers to control the economies, select presidents, start wars and more. They are also the ones who control the media and deliberately create or exacerbate divisions in the society.
It’s the age-old ruse of divide and rule. Let’s not fall for that anymore. Go find that quirky Republican friend or a family member. Listen to them and embrace them. Bring them over to the 99% Revolution!