It’s official: Donald Trump is facing off with Hillary Clinton this November, and if you liked the run up to this post-convention election cycle you’re gonna love the next three months. The rest of us are cowering under our beds, though, because it’s a foregone conclusion that we’re gonna hit November 9th with a bad political hangover and we’re all gonna have to hang out with each other on social media again so let’s see if we can get through this without having to defriend or unfollow everyone on our lists, shall we?
Full disclosure: I have no dog in this fight. I am equally disenchanted with both candidates and if I do ever get a dog in this race it will be my beloved basset hound, Elmer, who would make an excellent candidate. He is sincere, he is empathetic, and he is loving. Can’t ask for more than that.
More full disclosure: we all realize, don’t we, that there are other topics to talk about, like the new Star Trek movie and good books you’ve read and how the Cardinals are gonna take the Super Bowl this year? But if you must talk politics, let’s make with the guidelines…
- If you’re gonna proselytize for a candidate, do it by extolling their virtues, not by talking down the other one. And none of this “My Candidate will buy everyone free ice cream, but The Opponent will steal the ice cream from your baby’s sticky little fingers and turn him on to meth!” We recognize that gambit for what it is and we’re sick of it already.
- There’s no reason to keep selling to people who believe the same stuff you do. If you’re talking about the election or the issues on Facebook or in the comments section of any news article, be honest and admit that you’re trying to change people’s hearts and minds.
Helpful Hint: Telling these people they’re stupid for believing what they believe is not the way to accomplish a change of heart and mind. Telling them they’re stupid for believing what they believe is a great way to convince them that you are a gigantic git and your cause is not worth considering, which I assume is counter to your purpose. Telling them they’re stupid for believing what they believe means that you are not interested in changing their hearts and minds; rather, pursuing this course means you like the sound of your voice and you just want to be declared right.
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that doesn’t work very well. And no one ever gets declared the winner except in your own mind, which either doesn’t count at all or is the only thing that counts.
So I’m going to have to insist on some intelligent, persuasive discourse on why Your Candidate is the one. You’re pro-life and you have identified the candidate most likely to give you that platform? Let’s hear the profound, compelling reasons why you vote that way. You think that the government should provide healthcare to all? What situations have you experienced first-hand that make you believe that?
Which brings me to…
3. Stick to what you know is true. Don’t make stuff up. Don’t believe the hoax-y memes and stories floating around that a five-second Snopes search could discredit. And if you do get burned and quote a loser anecdote, be gracious when you’re corrected. Years ago, I got an email from a relative talking about how Hillary Clinton was killing and eating babies or something. It was the work of minutes to discredit the story, and I sent it back to the relative with the correct story. Relative’s response? “Well….it SOUNDS like something she’d do.” And that sounded exactly as bad as it reads. By the by: do NOT try to tell me that this kind of activity is the sole purview of the right. Or the left. Because it’s not. I get emails from all kinds of people. As it is with most things, some of them are legit and some of them should quit.
4. Stipulate that both candidates, (yes, even yours), are dragging significant baggage around. Refusing to acknowledge that baggage when you talk about your candidate makes you look like a disingenuous idiot, as does pretending that it’s all baseless lies. So don’t. I wish the candidates themselves would acknowledge their baggage, because it would be refreshing to hear someone say, “Yeah, I’ve had some challenges staying faithful/sticking to the point/hiding dead bodies/handling common technology…” I might even vote for someone who owned their baggage, but that’s a pipe dream and I don’t live in a state with legal weed.
5. Even with their baggage, these people became the candidates of our major political parties, so if you can’t be respectful of the candidates, be respectful of your fellow citizens who thought through all the same sound bites and debates and news stories you did and came to a different conclusion which brought us to this sorry state of affairs.
6. Give the devil his/her due. No one is completely bad, and if you’re sitting there thinking, “Well, if you don’t think that My Opponent is all bad then you’re a moron,” then you are the person who desperately needs to read this because I hate to break it to you: unless The Opponent is the anti-Christ (and I don’t think either candidate is organized enough to be riding with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse), you devalue your legitimate arguments against the candidate when you pretend that they are.
7. When you candidate’s legitimate transgression has been discovered, blustering “Well, the opponent/opponent’s party has done this, too!” is not a valid response. As a child, if I had gotten busted by a nun or my parents doing something wrong and my defense was, “Well, So-And-So did it, too!” I would have been knocked into next week because that was not, and still is not, an excuse for stupid behavior.
Last, but certainly not least: I won’t defriend anyone for voting for either of these turkeys. I’ll be the forever friend of anyone who lists Elmer as a write-in candidate. But I will never speak again to anyone who starts talking 2020 on November 9th.
© E. Stocking Evans 2016