What Happened When I Talked to Democrats at The County Fair?

Who goes to a county fair to talk to democrats?

I did. Although not intentionally.

Every October the fair comes into town. Funnel cake, ferris wheel, the whole shebang. So a group of us decided to go and check it out.

While walking around I saw a Democratic Party table with some Hillary and Bernie signs. The two people manning it were probably in their 60s (kind of surprising).

The temptation to walk over and talk to them was pretty strong.

However, I didn’t visit their table until later that night.

My friend was getting a sugar glider and I didn’t have anything to do, so I walked over to their table to chat.

What the hell is a sugar glider? No idea, look it up.

Anyway, I walked over to their table and read the “What democrats have done for you” poster.

Typical stuff about winning WWII, creating parks, Affordable Healthcare, etc.

Nothing about the Japanese imprisoned during WWII though.

Then I talked to the couple manning the table.

Man, was that interesting. I’ll try and break the conversation down. And explain my reasoning for the questions I asked.

Why Did I Talk to Them In the First Place?

Call it pure curiosity. Call it “research.” Call it boredom.

The temptation to talk to some local Democrats was more than I could bear. It’s in my blood. Any political junkie will understand where I’m coming from.

Talking politics is like an addiction. You just gotta do it. And do it I did.

Before walking up to their table, I made sure I was doing it for the right reasons.

Here’s a few of the reasons why I talked to them…

  • Ask questions so I can better understand where they’re coming from
  • Discover why some democrats would support Bernie Sanders
  • Comprehend the emotions, reasoning, and logic behind their views
  • Improve my discussion skills
  • Scratch my political discussion itch

The Questions I asked

Once I figured out my reasoning, I started to craft a few questions.

Most of them followed the conversation. A few were deliberate ones that I wanted an answer to.

Here’s the main questions I asked…

  • Why do you personally support Bernie Sanders?
  • Why do you think jobs are going overseas?
  • Why is a highschool degree worth less than it did 50 years ago?
  • Do you think Bernie will remove financial corruption from Washington (Wall Street, Lobbyists, etc)?

The rest of my questions were designed to get to the bottom of why they believed “A” or “B”.

I stuck to questions. I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating…

You can learn a lot by just asking questions.

In this circumstance, it wasn’t worth it to counter their points (i.e. debate). My goal was information gathering. I wanted to know why they believed.

The emotions, reasoning, “facts,” and worldview behind it was of critical importance.

This is where questions come in.

You learn more when someone explains it to you. Debating muddies it all up.

I didn’t want to debate. I wanted to understand.

Their Answers & Reasoning Behind Them

The two Democrats I talked to were considerably older than me. Like, in their 60s. Which is why I was surprised they supported Bernie over Hillary.

Their main reason for supporting Bernie was his lack of Wall Street funds and his message. For them, Bernie had better policies and ideas. Policies they could get behind.

It was interesting when we got into free college education (a policy of Bernie’s).

Once they outlined their reasons for supporting it, I asked them why they thought college is so expensive.

They answered with the typical response: a lack of funding.

I provided a slight counter. The US spends more money on education than most countries, yet our test scores are way down.

I then offered a counter reason for the expensive nature of colleges. First, I asked them if they thought supply and demand was to blame. Secondly, I asked if government subsidies could be a part of the problem too.

Offering up those two reasons was surprisingly effective. The main guy I talked to didn’t seem that turned off by it. In fact, he was quite surprised that we spent so much money on education with little results.

Later, another older guy came in (described by one of my friends a “hippie”). He was a friend of the couple I was talking to. We got into a discussion about the value of a highschool diploma.

According to him, a highschool diploma meant more back in the days. You could get a decent job, and support yourself with one. Nowadays, it’s a college degree that gets you a job.

After asking him about why he thought it changed, he said it was because Republicans sent jobs overseas. Low level jobs to be exact.

What surprised me about this “hippie” guy was that he reminded me of your stereotypical republican old guy. Knows a lot of obscure political facts, has read a lot of political books, etc.

All in all, these democrat’s reasons weren’t that different from what the republicans says.

Why I didn’t Tell Them My Political Affiliation (& Other Tactics I Employed)

Now I’m sure you’re wondering something…

How did they react to my political affiliation?

Well…

I didn’t tell them.

That’s right. I just walked up and started asking them some politically neutral questions. Once and a while throwing in a suggested reason for why “A” is happening.

I did my best not to hint to my political standing, and I think it worked out. They were both open to me, and friendly.

Another tactic I used was refusing to counter their logic or reasons. Instead of using a counter argument, I simply asked a clarifying question.

I wanted more information on why they thought this. I didn’t care about trying to “change their mind.”

There’s no way I was going to change their mind at that moment. I’ve never seen them before. This is a county fair. It just wasn’t going to happen.

By hiding my political views and refusing to argue I came across as someone who honestly wanted to talk. And that’s honestly what I wanted.

You can accomplish more by hiding your cards.

Key Things I Took Away From The Conversation

I think the biggest takeaway was that their reasoning wasn’t that crazy.

They wanted what you and I want. A good economy, jobs, a safe place to live, etc.

Their reasons were very similar to ones I’ve heard republicans carry on about. That blew my mind.

Another takeaway was how open they were to chatting. Without taking a definite stance, I was able to easily chat with them about dozens of issues. No yelling, no emotions, no bickering. Just how I like it.

I suggested alternative causes to an issue. We talked about education reform, I would drop a comment about how it’s not a matter of money. The US already spends more money on education than any other country.

I offered up cutting education spending (with the reasons I provided above, agreeing that we need to cut the military budget). And they agreed with me.

It amazed me how easily I could suggest a counter fix to the problem. All by calmly discussing the issue and asking for their thoughts on it.

Key Takeaways from it all:

  1. Their reasons for supporting policies are basically the same as many republicans.
  2. Being friendly, holding back your political identity, and asking honest questions is vital to a good conversation.
  3. It’s easier to suggest your own fixes when you’re engaged in a friendly conversation.

Conclusion

Now it’s your turn.

Let me know in the comments what you think about this encounter I had. Did I do it right? Should I have done something different? Do you agree with my tactics?

If you agree with my tactics I encourage you to do it yourself. And share this article with your friends!

Find some democrats (in real life), go up to them, talk to them. Don’t be a bickering jerk.

Come back to me after you’re done and let me know how it went.

Until then, remember…Freedom will only spread by creating conversations that make people think, not make them defensive.


This article was originally published at thepoliticalinformer.com on November 13, 2015.

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