How to turn a conversation with conservative family or friends into a real tool for positive change.
Before we get started, let me lower your expectations a little. This is not going to feel like a “big win” at the dinner table. I have no slick tricks to share, that will magically bring your Trump voting people out of the darkness over the course of a conversation.
This is about how to find a tiny wedge of common ground…
… and using it to get conservative family & friends to actually want to see your social media posts critical of Trump and his administration.
When approaching this conversation, remember, this is not about scoring points, educating or changing anyone’s mind. The goal is to get these people to open up and not be defensive.
You can start by asking what they want to see Trump do? (Suck it up and just listen.) This is mostly to get them talking… as well as to have a scorecard to refer back to in 4 years.
Then ask the important question: Is there anything that they’re concerned or afraid of Trump doing?
…anything that he’s said that makes them uncomfortable or disagree with? Get as much as they will share, from major fears to mild concerns.
Most people you know are probably not open racists or torture advocates. They’re probably decent people, manipulated by fake news, who believe in god and country. Folks that don’t want Russian influence in American politics, or who might see Trump using the oval office to make himself richer as a problem. They’re probably not even interested in lowering the minimum wage and may even have some inkling that climate change is real.
A lot of people think Trump “said a lot of stuff just to get elected” but won’t actually do any of it… Well, if your conservative people voice concern about any of Trump’s policies or positions, you will have likely just found your common ground.
You can tell them that although you may agree on very little… but you’re actually aligned on these issues, and you’d love to work with them to make sure they don’t happen.
Connect with them on social media, if you haven’t already.
This is key: See if you can get your conservative people to agree that you should both share articles and information that relate directly to the concerns you have in common.
You can tell them that they have the only voice that matters at this point. Trump and the Republican party as a whole are not interested in liberals like you… you already voted against them… and lost. The administration clearly isn’t interested in bringing you around by catering to your agenda; you are powerless and their voice matters!
This is their president… ask if they’re willing to hold him accountable and stand up to him if he does things they’re not comfortable with. If they say yes, you’ve just cracked open the door a little more.
Now the long, slow, process of remembering their issues and gently sharing “you might be interested in this” articles and posts that relate directly to their concerns.
Over time, point out abandoned promises and hypocrisies that they might care about. Never argue, be honest about how you feel if it’s relevant, but remember this is not about you - it’s about helping them -and holding them to the commitment of keeping their administration accountable.
If this initial conversation can create an ongoing, relatively civil dialogue online, the news and information you share with them, will most likely be some of the only information they’ll see from our side of the political divide.
Your goal is to get them to share the content you’ve shown them… and if that happens, you will have broken through the echo chamber for real.
Remember, as soon as they stop looking at your posts, as soon as the comments go unanswered, the algorithms that segment and segregate our lives will begin to close that door on us. So be honest, transparent, but really try not to alienate them, because your open door can shut very quickly.
This is not an easy road, but if we all engage in finding some common ground, pushing strategically for accountability, speaking out on behalf of our shared beliefs… and if we can keep some real news flowing into our red communities, we will be making a difference.