Why People Don’t Get It. What to Do About It.
You see it. It’s as obvious as a cactus in your shoe. So why can’t your brother-in-law see it? Why does your coworker roll his eyes and reach for the coffee pot?
The day executive amnesty was announced, your neighborhood gossip club turned their attention to the worst lawn keepers on the block. As Obama brazenly ignored a federal court ruling that declared his non-recess “recess” nominations illegal, your niece was all over the latest box office release. And your roommate switched the channel to “The Bachelor” at the news of five hardened terrorists’ illegal release from U. S. custody in exchange for a low-ranking turncoat from Idaho.
It’s like a bad dream. The house is on fire. You are scrambling from room to room, hollering at people. But they won’t even look up from their crossword puzzles.
By now, all of America should be storming Congressional offices, demanding impeachment of the most lawless president in U. S. history. But folks whose grandparents were scandalized by Richard Nixon sticking his gum underneath the desk shrug their shoulders when Obama bulldozes the school and sets the rubble ablaze. So back to the question: When it is so plain to us, why can’t our friends and neighbors see it?
Maybe we are partly responsible for our own frustrations. Maybe we are focused on the wrong audience.
Understand that those who aren’t on board with reality fall into one or more of at least three categories. First, many of those we think can’t see it, actually won’t see it. They voted for Obama and their pride prevents them from facing the fact that they played a role in wrecking the country. Obama could bite the head off a live puppy on national TV while shouting “Allahu akbar” and suffer no loss of support from this category. As a general rule, don’t waste your breath on them.
Then there are the happy people who are repelled by all things negative. Some in this category will gradually come along in time, but it will take personal disasters to wake them up. For now, you might have to let them slumber peacefully.
Lastly, there are the busy and distracted. These are productive people who hear some of the chatter, but don’t know what to make of it. They are ignorant, but not willfully so. Anchor your boat here and get your line in the water.
One of the first steps in helping these folks smell the cappuccino is identifying the issues that are most important to them. If your friend owns a small business, demonstrate how Obama’s policies hurt his bottom line. Don’t assume he already knows. He’s a busy man and doesn’t have time for talk radio. When your coworker complains she woke up one morning to find her insurance premiums increased 80%, tell her why in very plain language. Explain to your parents that Obama’s wasteful deficit spending has slapped an impossible financial burden on the shoulders of the grandkiddos they adore. Show them the numbers.
In the process of persuasion, remember it isn’t simply about having the right syllogisms. Here are a few style tips:
People are especially turned off by perceived hatred and/or racism. You know and I know that Obama’s skin color has as much to do with our opposition to him as Al Gore had to do with the invention of the internet. You know and I know that we would be no less opposed to him if he looked like Macaulay Culkin. But they don’t know that. They’ve likely heard someone refer to “racist right-wingers” and never bothered to ask if there’s any merit to the charge. Therefore, don’t be perceived as having contempt for Obama. Focus on his policies and his actions and avoid insults.
Don’t overwhelm your conversation partner with a mountain of facts. No one is interested in that. It almost never fails; when I speak to a group of people, someone comes up afterward and offers to e-mail me a 2000-page PDF on Common Core. Or they hand me a self-published report on the United Nations that looks like the Los Angeles phone book. If the people who are already on your side don’t want to eat your elephant sandwich, what makes you think someone who is uncommitted will? Offer hors d’oeuvres.
Be conversational in your approach. Don’t simply dispense information. This is no time to try to impress people with your knowledge; the goal is to influence and enlighten. For everything they know, know-it-alls don’t have many friends and they enjoy little success persuading others. Be amicable. Be humble and don’t be afraid to ask a few questions of your own.
Stick with the undeniable facts. It is undeniable that Obama has shuttered Keystone and prevented job growth. It is undeniable that his IRS targeted conservatives. With the wealth of demonstrable and damning facts, we can easily avoid conspiracy talk. It won’t get you anywhere anyway. As much as you might be convinced FEMA has a plastic coffin with your name on it and a million more for your Tea Party friends, you’ll never prove it. That kind of talk will warm most people up to you about as effectively as handing them a wet skunk.
Finally, lose the arrogance. If you look down on people for their ignorance, they will detect it and resent you for it. When pride courts you, keep in mind you would be just as blind as those you are tempted to despise were it not for the grace of God.
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