So You Want a Positive Primary

I hear you. The unending negativity directed at Hillary Clinton over the last several decades certainly didn’t help turn her voters out in 2016. Neither did the disproportionately negative press. All the general cynicism about government made Trump’s “Drain the swamp” palatable to some where it should have been laughable. You don’t want that to happen again.

Neither do I. I’m overwhelmed and anxious about the ongoing harm that needs immediate reducing, and I’m not going to be any less ready to make that vote when I can actually do it in a year and a half.

Come fall of 2020, even if Trump is impeached and not running, I’ll be all about “blue no matter who”. In every election with a moderately plausible Republican candidate, not just for the presidency. The party has shown it doesn’t believe in democratic governance. It needs to be treated as invalid.

But it’s 2019. Still spring for a couple of weeks. And during this primary season, we’re having real, important discussions about what we want our country to be.

It’s fine if you’re not in a position to engage in the disagreements inherent in these discussions. Your tolerance for the stress of argument is at an all-time low? I get that. You’re hyper-focused on getting Trump out of office? Cool. (Though I hear Democratic House members need to hear this from their constituents to make the political case for impeachment. Call or email yours, please.)

These aren’t discussions we can skip, though. They aren’t even discussions where we can agree to disagree. Not yet. We have to hash this out and have a real primary, as contentious as that may be.

However, there are steps you can take to make the whole thing more positive. What can you do?

Talk about what you like in candidates

Is this policy good? Did that candidate articulate something you also believe? Were you impressed by a debate performance or answer in a town hall? Is someone folksy, brilliant, principled, diplomatic, experienced? Say so! It doesn’t even have to be your favorite candidate. Social media makes you part of the media, so check your sources and go for it.

Sure, people might want to argue. You don’t have to indulge them. If they get obnoxious about it, you can tell them to stop. If they don’t, it’s fine to exclude them from your space.

Leave the complainers alone

Correct facts if they’re substantial and relevant, but let people complain. Don’t put them in a position to dig in and defend their complaints more. Don’t tell them they don’t have standing to complain and make them defensive about that. Certainly don’t counter-attack their preferred candidate. Not only does it not work to tell someone to stop focusing on the negative, but by complaining yourself, you’re adding more.

If you can’t stop yourself from responding, go back to point 1. Tell the complainers what you like about the candidates they’re complaining about. You don’t even have to disagree with them to do it. “That’s true, but I do like…” is just fine.

Change your own perspective

People talk about politics because they care about people, issues, good governance. This isn’t a bad thing. Nor is it a bad thing to advocate for your own interests if they’re not being met. One of the fundamental premises of democracy is that we should do this and will if given the opportunity.

When someone complains, consider it an opportunity to learn. What do they care about? What do they need from our government? It doesn’t change what they’re saying, but it makes much less threatening to watch the whole primary process play out.

Most of all, though, hang on. We’ll get to November 2020. You’ll be able to cast that vote. Heck, after July 2020 at the latest, there will be a candidate you can work for without working against another Democrat. There may even be local candidates right now you can work for, entirely positively. Or voter registration drives you can volunteer for.

Just hang on. We’ll get there, even if it’s messy now.

So You Want a Positive Primary

2 thoughts on “So You Want a Positive Primary

  1. 1

    Excellent points! We need to add to, and not supplant, our desire to dump Trump. That is why your advice to talk about policies we like is so apropos. It isn’t by JUST opposing Trump that Democrats can win. We need to endorse policies that will enhance and improve the lives of the middle and working classes in this country. Only by being positive in that way can we attract the discouraged and dissatisfied voters from the middle and the right.

  2. 2

    “Blue no matter who” can’t just be from the top down. Filling the ranks with republicans only means that tomorrows expereienced and savvy candidates will only offer more of the same, benefiting the wealthy, abandoning the unlucky, maintaining poor education levels to keep a “grunt” working class in place with low wage prospects, leading to abandoning Social Security and Medicare because “we can’t afford it”, valuing greed over climate, pushing the hate philosophy by pretending it’s Christian, denial of women’s rights…. The list is endless and we need to actively work in every way to make changes.

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