Let’s keep the Democratic message free from hyperbole. When we use words like “racist”, “fascist” and “extremist” to characterize not only Donald Trump – but all who endorse (or support) him, we fall into the trap of sounding like “chicken little”. Our democratic (small “d”) country is much too strong to fail - even if Trump and his followers are elected to office. I hope that does not happen. We can, and should, disagree with many of their principles, values and strategies. However, when we engage in labels and name-calling, we receive a “deaf ear” from those who need to reflect and consider their choice of candidates. Let’s be careful with our choice of words.
If the goal of our discourse is to explain the principles, values, and strategies of Democrats running for office, then we should focus our language and framing on important issues. Let’s not cheapen our purpose by engaging in name-calling and truth bending. Don’t get me wrong. I do believe that Donald Trump threatens most of the ideals for government I hold dear. I do not believe John McCain even tries to represent “all” of the people in Arizona. David Schweikert and Trent Franks have little understanding of the importance of the offices they hold. I do think Joe Arpaio is misguided in his efforts to enforce laws. I could go on, but I will not.
What are the important ideals that we need to talk about and use to frame our conversations? Simply put, they are issues founded in the principles of fairness, equality, opportunity, respect, and caring for others. These are the principles serving as the foundation and force of the Democratic Party. Let’s talk about economics, healthcare, human rights, voting rights, social programs, education, and the role of government – but stay consistent with our principles. Let’s not demean our high ideals by engaging in hyperbolic rhetoric.
This approach is what many call the “high road” in politics. Muck-raking and negative messages appeal to some. Media “experts” tell us that these strategies create a negative mindset. They are locked in and remembered by many viewers, readers, and listeners. Watching a Trump rally and the responses coming from its rabid participants is a frightening phenomenon. But those people are his supporters and their mindset if firm. Forget them. Their positions will not be changed. However, there are those, who like many of you, are appalled by the message and the messenger. You know them.
The challenge I give you is: Get informed about the issues and seek opportunities to engage in conversations with those looking for reasons to vote “for” someone. The choice is not between two “evil contenders.” It is about “what is best for our country and its future.” Stay on the “high road” and frame all of your conversations in terms of the principles you hold dear.
Marvin J. Christensen (September 2016)