Dear Auntie Pinko,
A couple of friends of mine who have been staunch Republicans
all their lives are making noises about being unhappy with
Bush. Is there anything I can do to get them firmly on our
side? They've never been Rush listeners, but they support
a lot of neo-fascist things like locking up marijuana smokers,
paying women less than men (because men should be 'breadwinners')
and other right-wing garbage. And they love the Bush tax cuts,
naturally, because they're well-off.
I want to have them vote for Kerry, even though I don't
want to see them at the next Democratic Convention. How can
I pull it off?
Your friends aren't the only ones having doubts about Mr.
Bush. The last time Auntie Pinko heard so many of her own
GOP friends expressing doubts was in 1974. We can only hope
that those doubts will last through November.
There are three possible outcomes in this situation:
1. The doubters can go ahead and vote for Mr. Kerry;
2. They can just stay home; or
3. They can vote for Mr. Bush, in spite of their doubts.
Of course, #1 is the preferred option. Still, #2 would not
be bad. The main thing we hope to avoid is #3 - but that's
still a very likely outcome for many of the doubtful ones.
So is there anything we can do to make #2 or #1 more likely?
I think so. But the key is to avoid tripping the always delicately-balanced
I find that what works best, when you hear an equivocal,
or even outright doubtful remark from one of Mr. Bush's supporters,
is to ask them for more information about why they feel that
way. It may be tempting, but don't rush right into reinforcing
their doubts with some remark about what a terrible president
Mr. Bush has been, or some factual example of a Bush Administration
misstep. Just ask them to say more about their feelings.
In doing this, you're offering them an opportunity to reinforce
their own inner dialogue - which is much more effective than
any external reinforcement you can supply.
It's very unlikely that the most die-hard fans of Mr. Limbaugh
and his ilk will be voting for Mr. Kerry, even if they think
Mr. Bush isn't conservative enough for them. The best you
can hope for in the case of these individuals is that they
will stay home and not vote. The more they hear from you -
the liberal 'enemy' - the more likely they are to be reminded
that all Democrats are just terrible and so they should vote
for Mr. Bush even if he's not quite as right-wing as they'd
And among the more moderate conservatives, the thing that
is most likely to worry them is extremism of any kind - in
fact, that dislike of extremism is probably part of why they
are feeling doubtful about Mr. Bush and his friends. So the
more passionately you try to influence them to support Mr.
Kerry, the more likely they are to worry about Democratic
'extremism.' And they'll stay home, which would be a shame,
because they're the ones most likely to go ahead and vote
for Mr. Kerry, if not scared away.
So concentrate on getting them to reinforce their own doubts.
Then, limit your comments to two general themes:
First, that they should trust their own judgment - they're
usually pretty smart and level-headed about such things, and
they should make up their own minds.
And second, that even though the options may not be very
appealing this year, they really can't leave the election
up to the extremists - their participation is still important.
These two ideas, presented thoughtfully, should be very
helpful to more moderate conservatives who are increasingly
uncomfortable with the actions of Mr. Bush and his administration.
Save the horror stories about rape of the environment, foreign
policy meltdowns, treaty abrogation, embroiling the country
in the disaster that is Iraq, etc., for your fellow-Democrats,
especially those who think Mr. Kerry is too moderate, and
would prefer to see a really "progressive" third party candidate
get some attention. While Auntie Pinko supports third-party
initiatives in general (they are generally very beneficial
to democracy) the stakes in this particular election are high
enough to make Democratic unity extremely important.
Good luck, Megan, and thanks for asking Auntie Pinko!
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