Friday, April 10, 2020

On Biden Supporters--How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

I'm gobsmacked at the reactions to Bernie Sanders dropping out of the race. All over Facebook, I see people saying get with the program, you bunch of losers. They don't use those words exactly. They say things like a vote for a third party is a vote for Trump. Or if you choose not to vote, you're a Trump supporter.

Other people go further. Some engage in childish idiocy. Some say Bernie supporters only like their guy, and no one else will do. You are dumb, someone told me a few months ago. This guy is a professional writer, and that's his notion of analysis. Go figure. It's odd, because I actually voted for Hillary last time, my enormous reservations about her policies notwithstanding.

In many ways Hillary was a better candidate than Biden. She was super smart. While I didn't love her policies, she was pretty straightforward about them. Her arguments were not the best. We will never get universal health care. If we offer free college, Trump's kids will go to school for free. But she didn't lie about them either. Joe Biden, one to one with Bernie Sanders, told some whoppers. He never wanted to cut social security. He didn't support the bankruptcy bill that benefited the banks in his state at the expense of We, the People. Bernie had nine super PACs.

"Want me to name 'em?" asked Joe.

Go ahead, said Bernie.

"Come on," said Joe.

I saw this reported nowhere and by no one, except partisans like Shaun King and Michael Moore. The talking heads all seemed to miss it. I'm just a schoolteacher watching TV and I knew it right away. This notwithstanding, we have to stop Donald Trump. I'll vote for Joe Biden. It's a low bar, and I drew the line at Mike Bloomberg. I would not vote for him under any circumstance.

When I said that on Facebook, of course, I was besieged with criticism. I'm a Trump supporter. Vote blue no matter who. How could you think of doing this? Look what's at stake. I told them I worked for him for twelve years, that he hated me and everything I stood for, and that he was a lying sack of crap. People unfriended me. Fine.

The whole "no matter who" thing is a turnoff, and indicates we have no standard whatsoever.  And as soon as Mike was trashed by Elizabeth Warren and rejected by voters, he took his ball and went home. So much for using his billion-dollar bullshit machine to support "blue no matter who." It was all about him, just like the narcissist-in-chief.

Now there are ways to persuade people. Joe Biden himself took a step toward that, when he proposed to lower the eligibility age for Medicare and forgive some student debt. That's not everything I'd like, and it's not everything Bernie supporters would like, but it gives us an incentive. If, in fact, he were to get a robust public option as part of Obamacare, that could set the stage for true competition in insurance.

It's true there are some people who simply will not vote for Joe Biden, but they ought not to be a target audience. The target audience is those who are on the fence and can be persuaded. Telling us we are a bunch of simple-minded contrarians is not the optimal strategy. Blaming us for Trump winning in 2016 is not a good tactic either. Nor is juvenile name-calling. That says more about you than us, in fact.

I'm encouraged that someone on Biden's staff has seen fit to reach out to us. And I know Bernie himself will bust his ass to get Biden elected, just as he did for Hillary.  I'm not sure yet what I will do. But there's a good way and a bad way to persuade people. Telling them they are simple minded galoots is rarely my go-to. If you don't want to give Donald Trump a second term, it better not be yours either.
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