Saturday, November 06, 2004

Election perspective Part 2: Action

In my last post, I stated that two things were called for: perspective and action.I It's very important that we think about what we can do over the next two to four years to ensure that 48% of us are recognized and heard. Some things we can do are join and become involved in our local Democratic parties. We can e-mail our legislators. We can send letters to the editors of our local newspapers. We can e-mail and call in to radio and television talk shows, including the ones we disagree with, so we can challenge the logic of those with whom we disagree when necessary. In short, we can stay informed, aware, and make sure that we are very, very visible All politicians understand numbers.
Now here's the hard part: when we do these things, we must temper our passion with respect. We must be behavioral, and we need to anticipate their counterarguments and be prepared to answer them. Here is an example of what some people did locally shortly before the Iraq War started that I found disrespectful, off-putting, and ultimately counter-productive. They had an anti-war protest, all well and good. However, they took their protest out into the street and blocked traffic during the late/afternoon and evening rush hour. They did not think about the fact that they might be thwarting someone anxious to get home to their latchkey kids, or perhaps a single parent who would now have to pay the day-care provider for the extra time. They did not think that they might be blocking someone trying to get to their night job, the kind where you get paid by the hour. They were very committed to their point of view, which was good, but I'm sure they turned off a lot of people who before that might have been willing to pay attention and listen. I think seeing people protesting with dignity and consideration would have been more thought- provoking. It's about trying to win people over, not piss them off..
Of course, almost everybody is busy and we can't do all of the things suggested all of the time. However, we can take 15 minutes to write and send e-mail to legislators and media outlets. We need to ask ourselves if we have made ourselves heard lately, and in many forums where there is a great deal of visibility: not just electronically but in the kinds of newspapers and magazines that people hold in their hands and maybe stash away for later reading, and in the kinds of radio and TV talk shows that a lot of the people who disagree with us listen to. I think a lot of us do a lot of preaching to the choir, and we associate most of the time with people who pretty much think like us. That's natural, just not really that effective in trying to change things.

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