I unfollowed my brother-in-law and blocked both of my grandmothers on Facebook. New York Times articles are the beginning and end of every “Did you know?” I find necessary to share. My parents and I talk less and louder.
Yeah. It’s November. It’s an election year. It’s politics.
Until today, the coolest stories I’ve had to share in weeks are really all Times articles. Like many of you, I have shouldered the burden of politically educating my family, friends and that guy who sits next to me in American Constitutional Law. Today, however, the story is my own, and it’s for everyone.
To the people trying to scroll through the 28.6 million results of “how to talk about politics,” I was just like you. I used to engage in statistical throw downs, constitutional rampages and, most of all, infuriating levels of confusion. This was all before I got real advice.
It came from a mentor. A former White House liaison and current partner at the D.C. consulting firm Edwards, Davis Stover & Associates, LLC, Lindsey Davis Stover is kind of a political communications guru.
Here’s what I learned. It’s simple, easy, human.
Political debates are sensitive. As much as anyone likes to pretend to be objective, we all have deep personal, moral and religious connections to our politics. It is essential to understand these convictions before we communicate.
It’s like learning another language- the language of other people’s politics. In order to do this, there has to be an awareness of the love, passion and faith behind people’s choices.
I could go on a year-long tirade about how sonar is literally killing the life that fills the ocean. But who cares? At the end of the day, what does sonar mean to people who see with their eyes and not their ears?
Instead, I have learned that, to my evangelical parents, the environment is important because my Christian values tell me that I am the earth’s caretaker. When I’m talking to my grandmother, it’s about her innate desire to watch plants grow, no matter how many times they fail in the endeavor. With peers, it’s about the future: What jobs will go away? What opportunities will no longer be available to us and our children?
To talk politics, first listen. Understand that we all have our own truth, and discover the convictions of people around you. Then you can finally speak in a language that transcends party and politics – understanding.