How To Talk To The Republicans (Because We Must and Do Love Them)

UPDATE: I hit ‘publish’ when I should have it ‘save’ earlier-I actually finished this now…

Kenny,

To begin with, I want to acknowledge my gratitude to you; though I owe it to you for many things, when I saw what Oklahoma did this week I was very glad that you talked me down from the death penalty all those years ago. You saved me from ever sounding like these people. I know you know how to reach people, and your approach is unprejudiced and open minded because you understand how respect, trust, and faith intertwine. So this letter is no lecture but rather my response to the private prompt you gave me earlier which I am placing into a much larger frame because it fits better here than there.

So, how do we talk to the Republicans, or the conservatives, or the Tea Party, 0r the Fox Nation? We have to. We love them. They are us. But it’s really gotten to be a problem. Let’s put it this way. We know how they get when we mention ‘Obamacare’. But the Affordable Care Act is essentially the plan that the Republican Party put forward in response to the Clinton Administration’s plan. Mitt Romney dusted it off and showed it could work in Massachusetts. So, we’ve reached a point where the GOP of 2014 thinks the GOP of 1994 were a bunch of socialists.

Conservative media like FOX and Limbaugh and the rest have been very effective at repeatedly moving the goalposts and driving the center of the political conversation much further to the right than it’s ever been in our lifetimes while eroding and unraveling the social and legal progress made in the 20th Century. Economic inequality and environmental degradation expand as the Bush deregulation schemes bear bitter fruits. We know this. We also both know that thanks to groupthink and consistently doubling down, the conservative movement has introduced toxic levels of bullshit into its bloodstream. And this is a problem for all of us.

We need to be able to talk to each other again and find some kind of common ground. There are certain inherent problems with this but there is also some hope. The problem of racism is the conservative movement is as obvious as it is difficult to confront; while by no means is this to say all conservatives are racist there are clearly issues that can’t be ignored. As you said we don’t want to paint the word ‘racist’ over ‘conservative’. But here’s the thing; we can’t ignore casual racism or accept gender bias; we can’t allow our accommodating natures to be taken advantage of by people who are incapable of understanding that compassion is not something to be sneered at.

We live in a world where Ted Nugent compares himself to Rosa Parks and there are people who, instead of vomiting, nod their head in agreement. Something has gone very wrong with the course of our discourse and pretending that the old rules of civility still apply is what the racists and regressives want us to do because it serves them when we do it. You and I approach things differently and I am the first to admit that mine is the harsher and blunter way; there are things I chose to not be ambiguous about. But then, I cherish the moment when the bully cries ‘uncle’ a little more than I probably oughta should.

I wish I had better answers for you, but if I did I would be able to help America talk to itself a little better. I mean, obviously we are not communicating clearly because they are certainly not hearing us. The other problem is that it is difficult to get someone to listen when they are being paid to not hear something. Many folks who hold regressive views on race believe that it is in their economic best interests to keep other people segregated, ignorant, and poor; it is very hard to talk someone down from this position. The current platform and positions of the GOP has become so radical that it is difficult to see how anyone who accepts these positions could be  moderate or open-minded about anything.

At the end of the day I will recommend what I do when I am dealing with other agitated and angry individuals who would rather rant than talk; be present. Wait. Be calm. Do not engage in petty disagreements designed to draw you into huge arguments. Except when you really want to…

My unlimited love,

Winston

2 Responses to “How To Talk To The Republicans (Because We Must and Do Love Them)”

  1. GAH! were’d the rest of it go? I think a bit of it got deleted at the end.

    Also, I’m confused. You said you disagreed with my professor. (go back to the FB post>) But in this, you are saying almost the exact thing he is.. His comment:
    “While I am not unmindful of the need to speak in ways that are charitable and persuasive with those who may disagree with us, my experience from 15 years of teaching and 30 years in ministry has left me with little interest in minding conservative sensibilities. I am much more concerned with helping and giving voice to those who are harmed by the world those sensibilities create.”
    I certainly understand why he feels this way. He’s black. He’s at minimum 10 years older than are we, so he doubtless remembers Jim Crow. His entire ministry and his academic endeavors are all devoted to specific issues in the Black community. So, I get it At least as much as is possible to this white child of privilege! But I still am left feeling like we are increasing the divide, not closing it. Every day I see articles on how we are a more divided country on issues of race than we were when the President was elected. Maybe that is simply indicative of the fact that people are more likely to talk about issues of race now than they were earlier…

    So, my question remains; How do we talk about these issues without everyone getting pissed off?

  2. Hey buddy, I actually finished the piece. Did that help? Probably not…

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