I can only sigh when I read this whimsical, but counterproductive DCCC “guide” to Thanksgiving conversation (download). Workshop attendees and online course graduates will instantly see the problem.
1) It is counter to the science of how people think. As much as it hurts to hear it, decades of work in cognitive psychology, behavioral economics and social psychology show that facts and logic are not terribly persuasive -people are far more motivated by moral values (i.e., beliefs about right and wrong) and emotions. Nobel prizes have been awarded for the science that proves it. Conservatives have known this for half a century. Put another way, if simply presenting facts and logic actually worked, we’d already have all the voters we need.
2) Never, ever, ever, repeat your opponent’s talking points. I can’t imagine why this is not obvious. Mentioning your opponent’s points strengthens them by repetition and, more importantly, keeps you in the frames your opponent has chosen. Republican strategists know we do this and they bait us constantly; don’t take the bait! You are under no obligation to answer any of their talking points. Instead get on with your message.
3) Have a conversation about why you care and what you believe is right or wrong. Relate it to real people and real situations. Doing this almost always results in a less confrontational conversation. It might even get your Tea Partying Uncle Fred to say “I never thought of it that way”. Seed planted.
4) Practice political triage. Crazy Uncle Fred is not your target. If you had *infinite* time and energy you might undo decades of right wing propaganda, but is Uncle Fred the really person the DCCC thinks we should spend our time on? And would the ensuing food fight convince anyone else at the table?
Here’s hoping we see more communication that’s a product of this century, not something from a thoroughly debunked old theory the Republicans rightly dropped in the last one.