Tuesday, June 20, 2023

The Persuaders

To some of us it seems like the right wing controls the platform.  Not only do they seem to have more money, they also seem to be better organized.  Anand Giridharadas has discovered there are progressives that are conscious of the difficulties and have solutions.

One underlying motive is the frustration found by many when trying to discuss Donald Trump or various right wing policies.  Those on the other side seemed oblivious to facts.

Linda Sarsour is one with a Palestinian heritage and had been an organized protester, but reluctant to get involved with white women as they had a different agenda taking focus off of colored women.  Trump inspired not only racists and evangelicals, but also many who hated his policies.  Linda realized her own background had limited her concerns, but she recognized many issues already affected Muslims, blacks and Hispanics such as LGBTQ and reproductive issues.  Asked to take part in the March of Millions she was reluctant but adopted the philosophy that you have to meet people where they are at.  With support from other agencies  they changed the title to March on Washington and also refused to accept corporate sponsors instead raising funds from small donators, Labor Unions and agencies with similar policies.

Reminds me of Naomi Klein who noticed that right wingers coalitioned many concerns such as gun rights, anti abortion, anti LGBTQ and minorities.  Her main cause seemed to be climate change, but she realized that such groups gained power by helping indigenous causes.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2018/05/naomi-klein-writes-another-insightful.html

Loretta Ross had a long history working with rape victims.  Her thinking had been aligned with the victims, but was approached by a perpetrator, William Fuller who claimed he had raped women and then in prison raped men feeling it was matter of power and control,  He studied the issue including from a feminist point of view.  He gave Loretta a different perspective.  She carried it over to other aspects of anti hate activisim.  It is very common for many racists to claim "I'm not a racist, but..."  She pushes with tests such as if a black person needed a kidney and you were a match would you help?  The search is for common ground.

Alicia  Garza was one of the founders of Black Lives Matter.  What prompted her involvement was the not guilty verdict for the murderer of Trayvon Martin.  The movement is intended to raise consciousness of people and not be violent.  She saw the process of 'Waking" is a bit precarious and one should not fault someone who slips, especially in the early stages. 

Bernie Sanders was a no nonsense politician who avoided personal stories or what might be considered stunts.  His persistence over many years earned him credibility, but failed to get the attention of the masses.  His policies were not really radical as many of them were already proving themselves in other countries.  As he aged he became more pragmatic explaining more of his personal history and has made decisions to help the cause, rather then a strict adherence to policies considered too radical for Americans.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was turned on to politics by Bernie Sanders as she found herself agreeing with the logic of his policies, but she was more activist and stirring up attention.  In an effort to diminish her, conservatives dug up a video of her dancing at a rooftop party, however she updated the video and demonstrated her critics were out of touch.  From a conversation she had with Ta-Nehisi Coates  "...if we're doing the job right--is to translate public will into the actual law...But who shapes and directs and moves that public will is writers, journalists, activists and artists.  They shape the public will and bring it to a point and translate it into policy." 

Anet Shenker-Osario is familiar with Hebrew, Polish, English and Spanish which perhaps has made her realize language is imprecise.  She even has done some standup comedy.  As she puts it we strive for more clarity.  Republicans have been successful at branding themselves as representing "freedom" and "family values", but that is nonsense to think they are more committed than Democrats.  Another theme of the right wing is the importance of "law and order."  When it comes to dealing with "persuadables" she believes "What we actually see is that they toggle between competing views of how the world works, and whatever they hear most frequently becomes 'common sense' and what everybody thinks."  Repetition with the right words can make a difference.         

An early inspiration for Anet was  George Lakoff who was well aware of the power of words.  As an example George pointed out the right often refers to "entitlements", but he suggests "protections" is more accurate and effective.  See more at:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2017/07/george-lakoff-wants-to-reform.html  

The last part of the book deals with deep canvassing.  A lot of his has evolved after traditional approaches have failed too often.  Basically you must learn and then earn the trust of whoever you talking with.  You need to widen their scope.  At this stage personal history can reinforce the message.  Every person is of course unique and conversions may take a long time, although some may hit a light bulb moment.

When the whole scene seems insane please be assured there are people working to make things better.  Anand Giridharadas made a point to spend a lot of time with the primary characters in this book.  He learned how their thinking had evolved.

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