BLUE NO MATTER WHO – HOW?
By Anne Sommerkamp
Persuading friends, relatives, and people at doors to “vote blue no matter who” is the challenge we face in the 2020 election. Not long ago the idea of talking about politics or religion in polite company was taboo. To some extent it is still so today. Case in point – a friend and I were meeting some of his friends for dinner. Before dinner my friend politely asked me to avoid talking about politics because his friends do not share my views. I’ll admit I was irritated. It meant I couldn’t talk about my work, my passion, or my activism. Out of respect for my friend I complied. Dinner was fine. I did a lot of listening. As the evening progressed, I learned there is more common ground on “kitchen table” issues than we know. Cool. I’m not going to say the conversation flipped our dinner companions to vote blue no matter who. My hope is it created food for thought.
As we begin knocking doors to get signatures for candidates to appear on the ballot, we should leave “food for thought” at every door. Petition season is not too early to have conversations at doors with people who disagree with you. Listen to what they say. Point out common ground when you hear it. Stay calm and know if you tell someone they’re wrong, they’ll dig in their heels, so let’s not say it that way. Learn to pivot from issues where there is no common ground. Most of us agree on big issues like mass shootings and gun safety, ending Russian meddling in our elections (or any other country’s elections), healthcare costs, tax benefits from cannabis legalization, keeping tax dollars out of the private prison system, requiring social media platforms to maintain protections from fake news, trolls, and bots. At the doors remember – people who aren’t motivated enough to learn how policies affect their lives cannot be expected to support things they do not understand. This is evidenced by the fact that voter turnout is considered high when 60% vote. Be ready with ways for voters to find unbiased truth. One source is Votesmart.org.
Democrats, more than Republicans, tend to leave races blank on a ballot if they don’t know the candidate. This is a deadly habit because down-ballot Democrats have a harder time getting elected. Let the people you talk to know that most Democratic candidates have similar values and are more in line with their beliefs than the other party. It is another “Vote blue no matter who” moment.
People who don’t care about politics because they don’t understand are the product of poor civics classes and biased news sources (Fox News). I can’t count how many times I have given civics lessons at a door…to college educated people. For example, it is imperative that people know they can sign a candidate’s petition so that person can be on the ballot, but it doesn’t mean they have to vote for the person. We must keep working on eligible voters with kindness, humility, teaching and listening. We will win with the right “food for thought” and we will keep feeding our friends, relatives, and people at their doors until we sway them to vote blue no matter who.