It’s (Still) the Derision, Stupid

Its (Still) the Derision, Stupid

Attack McCain, not McCain supporters.

I just came across this video from Blogger Interrupted (via Boing Boing), where a cameraman interviews McCain-Palin supporters inviting them to expose their ignorance. (Not unlike similar videos made to denigrade Obama supporters.) It brought back sad memories, and a lesson I hoped Democrats would have learned four years ago: It’s never hard–and never wise–to find a moron who disagrees with you, point at them and say, “Now there’s a prime example.” The morons don’t need your help proving that they are morons, and it just makes you look like a dick.

I worked my ass off for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004, when I still lived in Maryland. During that time, I got to know many hardcore Democrats. Some of them were assholes and ignorami–but most weren’t I hasten to add.

After Kerry conceded, I wrote a piece called It’s the Derision, Stupid. It circulated around by e-mail, and I put it on my first attempt at a blog.

Here is most of it (some of the links have expired):


Greetings Mourners,

Are you just about done with your soul searching, blaming, and looking for the silver lining? Good.

Over the past few months, I volunteered a lot of my time to the Kerry-Edwards campaign. I spent many hours riding on buses, and knocking on doors in Pennsylvania. (And we WON Pennsylvania! )

However, if I had a dollar for every time I heard one of my fellow volunteers degrade Bush or his supporters, I could have donated up to the legal limit.

“Bush is an idiot”
“Bush supporters are stupid”
“Republicans are morons”
“Middle America is mindless”

STOP IT!

Yes, even amongst yourselves: Stop it!

If we are to take back this country, we need to start by questioning our superiority. Yes, many of our ideas and policies are superior, but that doesn’t make us superior as people.

Start by changing the way we talk about Bush supporters. Change the way we think about them. Change the way we talk TO them.

You are not superior to the citizens who supported Bush in this election. No you’re not. No… you’re… not. As long as you think you are, it will show. And trust me, it shows. On more than one occasion, I found myself having to apologize to a Bush supporter for the behavior of my Kerry-supporting companions.

Make no mistake: This is not a lecture on reconciliation or moderation; Bush and his ilk are the enemies of freedom, peace, justice, and democracy. The Bush agenda needs to be fought and resisted with intensity. We need to minimize the amount of damage that Bush and the Republican majority in Congress can do over the next four years.

I’m not talking about changing the substance of your politics. However, you must change your mindset about the people who elected Bush. “Shed [the] core belief that Bush voters ‘are fundamentally stupid or evil.‘”

The conservatives demonize us. We’re the elite, left-wing, fag-loving, anti-American traitors who want to sell American honor to the French for a glass of red wine and some brie.

“And we’ve demonized them. They’re ignorant, gun-toting, woman-hating, crazed Christian rednecks whose ideology blinds them to their own self-interest.

Original source: Newshounds: http://www.newshounds.us/2004/11/03/the_fight_goes_on.php

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from living and working with people from other cultures is this: When other people fail to behave in the way you think they should–even when they’ve been given plenty of information–the defect is rarely in the other people, the defect is in your understanding of their values and motivations.

That’s right, smartypants, the defect is in YOU. If we fix that defect, we’ll start being more persuasive–and maybe start winning elections.

Political campaigns are largely about language and effective communication. The next time I hear someone whine, “They’ve turned ‘liberal’ into a negative word,” I might scream. Yes, they have turned it into a dirty word. And there’s no taking it back, not in the near term. Let it go.

Everybody is now talking about how the election was about “moral values” and what that means for progressives. I want to add this to the discussion: Denigrating half of the country’s voters is not moral. Furthermore, it’s anti-democratic. The charges of elitism will stick to you as long as you continue to act like the self-superior elitist jerks that conservatives say you are. Attack Bush, not Bush voters.

1 comment

  1. Mark Reply
    October 10, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks for re-publishing. Well done.

    Up until 2008 I’ve probably voted Repulican as many times as I have voted Democrat; always trying to look past political affiliation. Unfortunately, the rampant partisanship and steamroller tactics of the Bush administration have tainted my approach for a few reasons.

    One, Republican ideology is almost unrecognizable from it’s previous tight spending, small government, stay-out-of-my-personal-business M.O.

    Two, Republican voters don’t seem to recognize the shift in ideology and governance. They largely seem emboldend by the current administration’s dogmatism and fight blindly for “their Team” rather than the ideas that define the team. Which brings me to the third reason…

    Three, the ends now seem to justify the means. Just as the current administration is happy to forfeit constitutional liberties for “safety”, the Republican voting base seems to forfeit substance over ideas if those means insure victory.

    Palin is a shining example of this. McCain, Obama, Biden are all world-class statesman. Palin is simply not world-class at any level. But if she can help get McCain elected…

    So, it must be very difficult for Democrats to not demonize a party that, as of late, can’t be reasoned with. I, as you, have seen a shift in the behavior of Democrats to match the sheer volume of the Republican voice. It’s a shame because it cheapens the level of discourse in this country and drives the two partys farther apart.

    I’ve been pretty impressed with the Democratic party’s rhetorical posture over the past couple of months. It hasn’t stooped to the level of it’s constituancy or that of the Republican campaign machine. For this reason, I am voting Democrat this coming election… and I’m not getting into any shouting matches that will give one side the opportunity to bash the other.

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