Can Liberals Be Reached in 2020?
A story of convincing a woman that the Democrat Party doesn't do what she believes in.
We have all been in that situation at church, work, a community event, the barber shop, a doctor’s office, or sitting at the table at Thanksgiving dinner. That moment when awkward silence looms large and the room seems like the air has been sucked dry. That moment when someone says something negative about a political candidate/party you support, not knowing they are targeting you.
Last week, I encountered two similar situations. Assuming I was the typical “black Democrat,” one woman spoke negatively about President Donald Trump while performing my routine physical, and the other was offended by a meme that depicted liberals as being, um, liberals. The latter woman was a retired high-school teacher who came up to me after I spoke at a local high school for Black History Month about Frederick Douglass. She wanted to understand the difference between “liberals and conservatives.” I obliged, smiled, and said, “Let’s talk.”
She immediately said, “Look at this! I’m offended by this. That’s not me!” As I read over the meme, it was a depiction of general conservative versus liberal ideology. I had to disappoint her because the meme was a rather accurate generalization. I said with a smile, “Well, um, this is actually pretty accurate if you ask me.” She was flabbergasted.
The meme read:
If you ever wondered what side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test!
If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one. If a liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn’t like a talk-show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don’t like be shut down.
If a conservative is a nonbeliever, he doesn’t go to church. A liberal nonbeliever wants any mention of God and Jesus silenced.
If a conservative decides he needs healthcare, he shops for it or chooses a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.
If a conservative reads this, he’ll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh. A liberal will delete it because he’s “offended.”
Just from knowing this woman, I would never figure she was a liberal. She believes in personal responsibility, limited government, the right to life, and fiscal accountability. “Growing up, we were poor,” she shared. “My mom received assistance and that’s why I vote Democrat. I believe they are for the poor.” I understood her allegiance to the Democrat Party was a heartstring that had been pulled as a young daughter. Although assistance was helpful, she grew up believing in creating the life she wanted instead of waiting on the government to do it for her. I shared the values of the Democrat Party and she said, “I’m a Christian and don’t believe in this platform!” I looked at her and said, “But you vote for it.” She became sober-minded and realized her decision to vote for liberal policies went against everything we both knew she stood against. “You’ve really helped me understand some things,” she told me. “I thought my conservative friends were just crazy, but when I think about it I believe the same things.” I allowed her to draw her own conclusions. If you are ever cornered between a political wall and a hard place, remember these three easy steps to reaching liberals, especially if they are professing Christians:
Listen more than you talk. Liberals like to complain about almost everything. The president, the economy, schools, guns, and tolerance. Let them get it all out and even if you’re tempted, don’t say a word. Let the awkward silence happen a few times. When you keep quiet you actually gain leverage when your voice is heard.
Stay in control of your emotions. Don’t let your feelings affect your messaging. If you begin to attack or defend your position out the gate, you will ruin your chances of having meaningful dialogue. Grin and bear the erroneous emotional rant you hear. Smile and shake your head in affirmation as you listen. It doesn’t mean you agree, it means you’re listening with self control.
Intelligently speak your position. Wait until they say something you both know he/she doesn’t agree with — same-sex marriage, forcing children to attend failing schools, abortion, gun laws, big government, and the destruction of the traditional family. When you speak, remind them of the facts about the economy. Remind them of the beauty of school choice or Opportunity Zones. Remind them of the points in the State of the Union Address. You will see how they begin to agree with the facts and all you’ll end up doing is nodding your head in agreement. Tell them, “You certainly don’t sound like a Democrat based on what you believe in. Has anyone told you that before?” A close family member or friend has always said something to them about their liberal political leanings to no avail, until now!
There are levels to reaching a liberal. Do not count them all out because many of them vote based on feelings and not facts. Bring the facts to the conversation and leave it there.
If they trample on Trump, help them to decipher between political personalities versus political policies. This woman told me, “But Barack Obama was so smooth and polished. Trump just comes out with it all.” I told her being smooth allowed our former president to get away with policies that would not be accepted otherwise. She agreed and realized that it is not about the personality of the president but what he actually puts into policy.
This exchange of ideas was productive. I learned how to calmly approach those who have different political ideologies. I believe she learned what she actually believes doesn’t line up to what she votes for. Win-win situation!