Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ammo for those election conversations

Sometime in the next 7-8 weeks, you will be in a conversation about the Presidential election. You'll be asked "Who are you voting for?" Or, it may be more like, "What do you think of Obama?" Or, "What do you think of McCain?" Perhaps you will be the one doing the questioning. 

Because the average, everyday American only pays attention to who is running and related issues...but usually only who is running...until the fall in any election year, you'll be talking to people who are pretty uninformed. Despite good intentions, they'll probably be judging the candidates on vague perceptions and the last TV ad they saw.

For those of you interested in not continuing down the complete road to ruin we've been put on by the Republicans over the greater part of the last thirty years, it's in all of our interests for you to try and sway the "undecided" or "soft McCain" voters between now and November.  The good news here is, the truth works in every situation.

Therefore, below are some tips for talking with people who are considering voting for McCain in 2008. Remember, there are always going to be people who will NEVER change their mind, no matter how bad things get under Republican rule. They loves them some Republicans and they are not voting against them. 

No, these ideas are not for conversing with that type of person, but rather those who are wavering or have yet to decide. Also to keep in mind, it's unrealistic to think you'll change someone's mind right there on the spot. Rather, give them something to think about. Finally, talking with undecided voters or those who may change is more effectively done in an easy-going tone rather than an argumentative or strident one.

Combating the case for McCain
If someone you're talking to says they are leaning towards voting for McCain or want to vote for him but have yet to make up their minds, the thing to do is look them in the eye and... 

You ask: "Why?" 

Then, sit back and see what they answer before saying anything more.

If their answer is something negative about Obama, here are some comebacks that I think can be effective to helping whomever you're talking to reconsider.

If they say: "I just think Obama is too inexperienced."
Then you say: Obama is a U.S. Senator, but you're right he is not a long-time Washington insider. I actually think that's a good thing now because we need someone who is not so entrenched in DC politics or beholden to so many special interests. On the other hand, McCain has been in the U.S. government for 26 years. Do you really want someone with that many attachments to lobbyists and special interests running things? 

If they say: "I think Obama is all about himself" or "Obama is too flashy and shallow."
Then you say: It's true that Obama is a really good speaker, but unlike McCain he has laid out many specifics of what change under his administration would mean and why those changes are needed to make our country stronger in key areas where we're hurting. Don't you want somebody as President who is both smart, can articulate what needs to be done and has the nation's interest at heart?

If they say: "I'm afraid Obama is too liberal - he'll raise my taxes and make government bigger."
Then you say: Hmm. That's odd. Obama has openly campaigned on lowering taxes on middle class Americans. He has talked about eliminating the tax cuts for the rich and big companies that Bush, McCain and the Republicans passed into, that's what McCain uses to say Obama will raise taxes. But, that's pretty shifty and very deceiving. Don't you think eliminating the rich-guy tax cuts is a good thing when combined with tax relief for the most people? It will help with the budget deficit and put money into working people's pockets instead of just big business.

In terms of big government, all I can say is that the Republicans have pretty much run the show for the better part of the last 28 years (President 20 of the last 28 years, controlled Congress 1995-2006) and it's as big as it's ever been. McCain has been part of that and let it happen.

If they say: "I think Obama may be too weak on national security - he will cut and run against the terrorists."
Then you say: Remember, on 9/11 Republicans were in control of the Presidency, Congress, the Department of Defense and the city of New York...and we were successfully attacked that day despite clear warnings they received. And, those same Republicans...including John McCain...who controlled all branches of the government voted in favor of going to war in Iraq on what we now know was a decision based on false pretenses. No matter how you slice it, these things add up to bad judgement on national security by McCain and Republicans.

We can't afford to have people with such bad judgement leading our country any more. I'd much more trust Obama - who opposed the war in Iraq from the get go in favor of finding Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

If the person you're talking to chooses to answer the "why" question instead with something he or she finds attractive about McCain or Republicans, here are some good comebacks...

If they say: "I agree more with McCain's values. I think they're right for America"
Then you say: Really? Did you know that McCain left his first wife for his current wife, Cindy? They met in a bar and he began a relationship with Cindy while he was still married - ultimately leaving his wife for Cindy. Also, did you know that John McCain was one of five Senators implicated in the "Keating Five" savings and loan corruption scandal in the early 1990s for illegally aiding bank chairman Charles Keating when his institution was under Federal investigation? 

Did you know that in 1998 he during a Republican party dinner speech he said, "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno."? And, did you know that McCain voted against making the Martin Luther King holiday a holiday in Arizona in the 1980s? This is not the track record of morals and our country deserves better. It's also just more bad judgement by McCain. I think you should re-consider.

If they say: "McCain is a maverick and will shake things up."
Then you say:
That's an attractive idea, but did you know that McCain voted with President Bush's agenda 90% of the time over the past eight years? Also, McCain is the leader of the very political party whose policies over the past eight years have directly delivered problems such as high unemployment, outsourced jobs, unaffordable healthcare, high food prices, a shrinking middle class and a failing educational system. Now, McCain is literally saying he will continue Bush policies on healthcare, the economy, corporate tax breaks, Iraq and education. I don't see how that adds up to a "maverick" of any kind. Who wants more of that? 

If they say: "I think McCain has the experience we need as leader."
Then you say: Yes, he has served in Washington, DC for a long, long time. Unfortunately, that experience has brought us high unemployment, high gas prices, outsourced jobs and a very unpopular and un-needed war. It seems like his experiences has all been in creating problems and not solving them. 

If they say: "McCain is a war hero...just the kind of person we need in the White House."
Then you say: No doubt McCain served his country bravely in war time. However, that's really doesn't mean anything when it comes to how someone will perform as President. We've had war heroes as President before that were really good (Theodor Roosevelt), really bad (Civil War General U.S. Grant) and somewhere in the middle (Dwight Eisenhower). So, war service is not an indicator. 

Regardless of service, seems to me that we'd want someone with good judgement who will only put soldiers in harms way as a last resort and with a specific aim. McCain voted for the Iraq war, Obama opposed the war. I think that speaks pretty loudly about judgement on how to lead the military.

If they say: "I like his pick of Sarah Palin. We need a woman in there."
Then you say: Sure, I agree that having a woman as VP or President would be great, but just like any man, don't you have to judge that person based on their credentials, their record and what they say they stand for? In the case of Palin, she is in favor of some extreme positions that probably aren't the best for the country. For example, she opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest, she is in favor of teaching creationism in public schools, she is against stem cell research, and she believes the Iraq war is a mission sent from God. Also, her pastor has said that political opponents of George W. Bush will go to hell, and that "Jesus operates from a position of war mode."

But, in the end, Palin is not running for President - John McCain is. So, it's better to focus on he and Obama. That's who you're actually going to be voting for.

If they say: "I'm for/against issue X and I think McCain will be better on that."
You say: Hmmm. While single issue voting is certainly your right, isn't that really against the very slogan that McCain has right now - Country First? 

OK, enough. Good luck delivering the truth.

Later this week...presenting the case for Obama.

2 comments: said...

A big Bravo from a Canadian who feels strongly that Obama is needs to be the new face of US politics - for you guys and all the rest of us.
Curiously, every Canadian friend with whom I've discussed US politics lately, is a big Obama supporter as well - but I tend to choose my friends and my arguments wisely.

Marc said...

Thanks greendragonfly. Great to hear from Canada. My wife and I were up in Banff this July and LOVED it.

You bring up a great point. The U.S. has such an impact on the world economy, peace, war, health and more that it really does matter who leads this country. We've all suffered in some measure over the last eight years. The U.S. can do so much better. Here's hoping we get our guy this time.