Good morning, cupcakes! It’s been over a week since the midterm election, and I am already feeling so much better. Sure, sure, the Republican landslide blows chunks, but it really isn’t the end of the world. We all knew going into the election that with unemployment stalled around 10 percent, the banks refusing to lend credit, and millions of people afraid of losing their jobs, that this election cycle was all about the depressing economy. And it really should have been.
For once gay issues took a back seat, and the piñata in the room wasn’t us homos. Although I must admit, if I were Muslim, Mexican or a woman of reproductive age, I would probably be feeling a little nervous right about now. To those folks I can only say, I feel your pain and I’m sorry that you are being used as convenient scapegoats. We’ve been there, and we know how crappy and hopeless it feels.
But what struck me about this election, petals, was the sheer amount of misinformation and the complete lack of truth in so many of the campaigns. The bullshit factor was made even worse with all of the anonymous ad money and slick messaging that swamped a lot of Democratic candidates (and, sadly, most of the Republican moderates and centrists as well!). This was an election where uninformed opinions and gut feelings of fear were more important than facts, and that combination, pumpkins, is never good.
The progressives simply have to get better at selling their accomplishments (and there have been many) to the American public, and making them relevant to actual people outside of the Washington Beltway and the punditocracy. The message needs to reach the real people who are working their butts off and who are just trying to raise their kids and stay afloat. I truly believe those folks are persuadable, but to get to them we have to run the gauntlet between the populist/Tea Party/anti-gay/talk radio, buzz saw of idiots.
So, darlings, with that in mind, I think we need some tools for how to deal with Tools!
1. Keep it simple.
I know this may be politically incorrect but I am just going to say it, petals. The reason the Democrats and the President are losing the messaging war is that they cannot reduce anything into a comprehensible sound bite. Compare the instantly memorable Republican message of “drill, baby, drill” to the absolutely true but hopelessly waffely Democratic message that “Offshore drilling is inherently dangerous and could impact wetlands, marine ecosystems, the livelihoods of fishermen and their families, and continues our dependence on polluting fossil fuels, which ruin our air, and are compromising our children’s health, and, and, and … zzzzzzzz!” Jesus H. Christ! People are busy and they have to make decisions in a snap. If your argument is so nuanced and so conditional, then you’ve lost your audience.
2. Stay focused.
Don’t let a conversation go on a tangent into unrelated topics. Take one issue at a time and keep repeating it and reinforcing it. Ignore any baiting, distractions or red herrings that dilute your one central argument. A conversation about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell does not need to morph into an argument about Christian wedding photographers being forced to photograph civil unions in New Jersey, or whatever.
3. Don’t waste your time.
There is a small percentage of people whose opinions you will never ever change. They are not worth your time or energy. The same 10 anti-gay people who troll the comment boards of the Internet will still be there 10 years from now with the same arguments. They are a complete waste of energy. Move on! Instead of spending six hours responding to trolls, spend 10 minutes e-mailing your local or state representative, or doing something tangible to make a difference.
4. It’s not always about the Mormon Church.
As a frequent critic of the LDS Church’s politics I violate this rule all the time, but I am sincerely trying hard to improve (and lose 12 pounds to get to my goal weight, and trim my nose hair more often). There are hundreds of wild-eyed Internet missionaries and defenders of the faith who will turn any discussion into an apologist rant about the LDS Church. Don’t spend your time trying to argue doctrine with LDS members. It’s not productive and, frankly, who cares? It’s their policies and politics that are the real issue.
When debating, posting comments online or just having ordinary conversations with family, friends or coworkers, use these simple tools with my blessing. Now get out there and spread the good news, kids!
You can see Ruby Ridge and the Matrons of Mayhem in all of their polyester glory at Third Friday Bingo (every Third Friday of the month at 7 p.m.) at First Baptist Church (777 S. 1300 East).