Engaging The Opposition, Part II: Get Personal

by Jed Alexander

In my continuing efforts to provide you with the basic tools in navigating and engaging the opposition (#45 supporters, ultraconservatives or any right-of-center), I would like to expand on my former piece, “Social Media Agitation” where I outlined ways to politely protest and use simple tactics to deflect attention off the one or ones who may call you libtard or snowflake. What I have found to be the most effective angle is making it personal. And by personal, I do not mean assaulting or harassing your opponent(s), rather, asking questions specific to the thread or using personal examples from your own life. Here is what I mean.

This past Sunday I was watching my weekly fix of Meet The Press, speaking to my television, thinking Chuck Todd would actually hear me tell him, “Get tougher with Rubio, Chucky!” Maybe he heard me because Rubio was getting more agitated as the interview progressed. Following that segment, I dove right into the Meet The Press Facebook page, finding a thread where #45 supporters were either making baseless claims themselves or spouting out bumper-sticker phrases with no real substance to them other than the same Make America Great Again slogans.

I did stumble upon one gentleman (a #45 supporter) who was actually putting together some coherent thoughts, even though they were still unfounded claims. He was deflecting the recent one made by #45 about former President Obama’s supposed wiretapping, and pointing to the IRS scandal where certain individuals singled out the Tea Party. This gentleman put the blame on Obama for the entire scandal. Though nicely written, again, they were unfounded claims.

Rather than focus on his direct statements, I made it personal and asked him two questions: “Sir, do you deny the Tea Party marched with images of President Obama in nooses and tribal gear?” He had no answer other than gravitating back to typical bumper sticker responses: “Racist? Really? How ignorant.” (He was Caucasian, by the way.) The fact he could not identify those images as overtly racist was quite disturbing and it obviously touched a nerve. After that point, I asked one more question in the same manner. However, his similar patterns carried on. I ceased with the questioning and stopped engaging. But at least he showed his true colors, which then opened him up to others honing in on his comments. He was on his own. Would I call my questioning bullying or harassing? No. I simply called him out on his comments and made it direct and personal.

The other hot topic (not related to Russia and involving actual legislation) is the ongoing debate of the Republicans wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. For me, this has been one of the tougher conversations to engage in since many of #45’s supporters think their premiums have either gone through the roof, or they feel people should have options for their healthcare and not told what or how to purchase their insurance.

The advice I can provide when engaging someone with a coherent and sensible comment who actually stays on their political path and truly stands by their opinions is, again, make it personal. For me, I use questions such as, “Do you know anyone currently living with HIV/AIDS? Or dealing with cancer?” Or anything that carries preexisting conditions. In fact I do personally know those living with HIV/AIDS and those going through cancer treatment. Then get even more specific. For instance, “Did you know if healthy individuals end up buying cheaper policies, this will drive up the cost for those who are sick? Isn’t being an American looking out for your neighbor and aren’t we all considered equal under the Constitution?”

There are many variations you can use, but making it specific and personal is what will either get their attention, get them to really think about the issues, and engage positively and professionally with you, or they will show their true colors with no substance or details to back up their claims. Go for it. You have nothing to lose other than being called libtard or snowflake.

M.J. Loheed