Everything regarding the internet is…a lot, clearly. Viral tweets and TikToks (at least that’s what I assume the kids are saying nowadays) are running rampant; some are funny, some are poilitical, and some are both. But in reference to this past election, it’s becoming clear that liberals and Democrats alike are not doing their job.
A hefty amount of Republicans that backed Donald Trump in 2016 no longer support him. Ask any midwestern cashier at a convenience store if they’ve had any anecdotes from political characters who’ve walked through the store (clearly this is a personal story). In 2017, while working as a cashier for CVS, a customer that appeared first as a typical blue-collar Trump supporter, possibly even Libertarian voter, didn’t fit his description.
He told me that Donald Trump was the end of the Republican Party. He griped about many of the same things comedian and activist Jon Stewart warned Republicans about — they’ll reap the benefits of Trump’s election in 5–7 years. So far, both are spot on.
So winning over Republicans should be easy, right? Clearly not. More than 40 million people voted for Donald Trump in this year’s election. He lost by more than 5 million votes, but that’s still more than were assumed to vote for him considering his mishandling of the Coronavirus pandemic, his abysmally low approval rating in only his fourth year in office, and the fact that his daughter Ivanka is literally running Damage Control on her image before returning to New York City.
We’re not doing enough.
New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared a few eye-opening insights this autumn about the future of the Democratic Party, which progressives are trying so desperately to change — for good reason. She talked about her offers to help out the Democratic Party in recent elections, even going at length to say that the five candidates who she helped in swing districts were winning (and won!) their respective elections, while those who refused her help were losing.
AOC’s biggest issues with Democrats is that they didn’t advertise, didn’t embrace social justice, economic instability, or climate issues, and didn’t have much of any online social presence when a core of AOC’s own fanbase is online. It’s why she’s constantly interacting with her constituents on Twitter.
Beyond that, the inability to address social justice is key. But even supporters of those issues, including me, need to become better at persuading others into giving a shit.
Arguing to win.
What is a debate? Like, sure, when I was younger, arguing with my sister meant decimating her, or maybe I’d argue with my dad until he didn’t want to speak to me. But what’s “winning” an argument, really?
Are you arguing with someone to prove them wrong, or prove you’re right? And are we asking the right questions?
I recently read about retiring the term “white privilege” for the sake of progress by Ron Dawson. He spoke about the term itself and how telling some white people they have privilege is like trying to explain to non-religious people that they’re sinning. It’s pointless if they don’t believe it exists. Ironically enough, he mentioned, that privilege we’re speaking of is the exact reason why so many don’t believe they have it.
But this strategy could be applied to any progressive issue, really. Arguing better and expressing empathy is a way to improve society and explain that white privilege is not inherently bad. But we — as a society — need to understand that it exists.
Yes, white people have worked hard. Yes, hard work is deserving of success. But it’s important to understand that your race was never a hindrance of that success.
Look, I could write several books on why it’s important to understand the socio-economic factors of being white and why that automatically gives you a leg up on society.
Let’s talk about conspiracy theories.
I’ve began to really apply my empathetic debate strategy to conspiracy theories, which I hate with the most disdain.
Conspiracy theories are a social phenomenon that I will both understand perfectly and never understand at the same time. In John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight piece about the Coronavirus pandemic and conspiracies, he does offer some explanation on how to discuss conspiracies with people who believe them, which further extends upon Adam Conover’s Adam Ruins Everything (RIP) excerpt on conspiracies, the moon landing, etc.
Oliver points out that most experts argue that — instead of calling conspiracy theory followers “idiots” (which, no offense, is easy since the topics are fringe in nature) — express empathy, meet them where they are, and offer some critical thinking.
An over-saturation of Liberal Elitism.
Liberal Elitism exists and if you’ve been on Twitter for a year, you’ve probably seen tweets like “I’m sorry, but just because you acknowledge that racism exists doesn’t mean you’re antiracist.” While true, the sentiment of the tweet doesn’t sound very appealing.
Yelling into a void about social issues like this has become an increasingly popular trend on twitter.com, especially in the light of the Donald Trump presidency. But it doesn’t mean it’s the right trend.
Although a nice added feature in Twitter’s algorithm has been the “topics” feature which adds tweets to your timeline that users you’ve followed haven’t tweeted, but maybe interacted with. Sometimes I just get tweets under ‘funny tweets’ because I’ve interacted with a related tweet.
At the same time, it’s enabled a personalized experience for myself (and many others) who see tweets that many would call ‘elite’ or expresses elitism. Telling people how to be antiracist by telling them they are racist is never the way to win people over, especially if those who don’t experience racism don’t believe racism exists in the first place.
I’m only speaking from experience. A popular view of mine was to ask Republican voters why they consistently vote against their best interests, when a large portion of Republican voters live in rural areas and are in the middle to low social classes. But when you consider the fact that progressives have been very included in the dialogue required to fundamentally change the Democratic Party, you realize that you’ve lost faith in them too. The only difference between progressives and ex-Democrats is that some of those converted Republicans feel so strongly about abortion, or Republican-leaning single-issues, that they need to identify with the GOP.
Liberals need to rethink how they prove to Republicans and swing voters that they are on their side. You can argue for something and fight for racial justice without having a one-sided conversation about race. The Democratic Party has become increasingly elite over the years and it’s very important to acknowledge that same Elitism Wall we’re preaching from is the same one that turned Republicans off in the first place.
Author’s Note: Shortly after posting this, I found this nifty little Barack Obama interview he just did where he blamed Hispanic Evangelicals for voting against their own interests, even further proving my point that Democrats are doing nearly everything wrong.