Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time To Foment Change

Pretty even-handed piece in Monday's Salon, about what's going on in the mind of the average small-town resident. I wanted to pull out this paragraph for what it says about identity politics.

Charles Kempf, 65, a retired maintainence worker, and Judy Kempf, 61, a retired office manager, are both lifelong Democrats from Mesquite, Nev. They said Palin's "eloquent, intelligent and down-to-earth" way of speaking reminded them of Bill Clinton. Former Hillary Clinton supporters, they strongly dislike Obama and said they were resigned to not voting at all this year. But now they might vote Republican for the first time: "[Palin] kinda relates to us commonfolk ... she's got a family, she's got problems," as opposed to Obama, who "just talks above and is nothing but a script reader." They don't like Palin's strong pro-life stance, Charles Kempf said, but "you're not going to agree with everything, so you've got to overlook a few things."

Here are a couple of lifelong Democrats who are thinking about switching their party this year because they identify with the person who they believe closely resembles who they are. Nevermind that on top of being a repetitive liar, Palin is more of a script reader than Obama is; to them Palin is an eloquent lady that relates to commonfolk like themselves, and though they acknowledge that their stance on abortion rights is diametrically opposed to hers, they're willing to overlook a few things.

How do we reach these people? And why should we, considering that they're not likely to listen?

To put it crudely, in this election season, we have to divert a number of the lemmings away from the cliff before they end up pulling the rest of us along with them.

Which is not to say that all of these citizens are mindless, instinctual beings who go along with other similar beings despite of where it may lead them, just that enough of them, with raised awareness, may be willing to step away from the throng.

Call me a crazy optimist, but I'm willing to bet the Kempfs may think for a few seconds after learning that under Palin's Wasilla, AK, rape victims were forced to pay for the evidence gathering kits.

Would that be enough for them change their minds? Who knows, but it got them thinking about it. It is through using truth combined with a gentle strength that minds can be enlightened and changed.

No need to argue, or get into internecine flame wars with the belligerent; some of these "commonfolk" are rational thinking people, they're not all mindless zombies. All you need is to get them to think "maybe they don't reflect me, after all," and, hopefully, handful by handful, we can change enough minds to make a difference this year.

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