“If you want to keep friends, don’t discuss religion or politics” is a relatively modern phrase, and with reason. Both of these subjects can run deep for people, and can act as a far more important part of their life than just a talking point. I’m only going to be talking about one: politics.
Dealing with someone who has different political views can be easier than dealing with a religious difference in some cases. Political differences usually come to a point a few times as opposed to all the time. In my observations I’ve found many people who don’t choose their party based on the platform, choose for the following reasons: the choice being previously made for them by family, an appropriate name or stigma attached to the candidate, and ignorance (I mean this in the kindest sense). Before you know how to deal with this, you first have to understand their choices.
Choice Made Previously by Family
A common reason for why people neglect to choose parties is because the decision has already been done for them, usually by their family. So many people will be on board with something only because their family is, without acknowledging that what works best for their family may not work for their life. When people allow a political party to be chosen for them, they don’t tend to put much thought into it afterward, trusting others opinions instead of making their own. This leads directly into the second reason.
Support is nearly as popular as the choice being made for you and goes hand in hand with it. People can stay within the same party for generations because it’s what they know, even if the party’s platform dramatically changes. I’ll explicitly call out the Republican Party. In this election, particularly their policies have changed drastically, even though some have been kept the same. That is another contributor to people staying with a party. They can focus on a few positions that they agree with, but ignore the rest of the platform, whether or not they agree with it.
Ignorance is Bliss
In some cases, by focusing on what you know, you never learn about the rest of the party’s platform. Ignorance very well may be the most obvious reason that people are ill-aligned. So many make choices based on “angry words” or stigmas attached to the opposite party by those they side with. The words Democrat, Republican, Liberal, and Conservative can have positive or negative connotations depending on what side you’re looking at it from, whether or not you know anything about them. Not to mention, parties love to use terms that scare people into avoiding them. In most cases they’re used incorrectly and, to those who understand them, it’s beyond clear that both the speaker and their listeners have no idea what they’re saying. So often education can fix these issues, but due to pride, many will forgo it.
Now that I’ve had my spiel on why I think people make the wrong choices let’s discuss how to deal with it. Most of these can be solved with educating your partner, friend, or acquaintance. However, the issue of pride can get in the way of making this an easy endeavor. I’ve found several methods of making people “see the light” as I’ll put it.
If you feel the issue is that the choice of a political party wasn’t previously done for them, this could help you out. This is one where education can help lot. Ask them how their choice will be helping them and how it fits their values. If they say something incorrect, correcting them on these points can help them understand their problem. I have to stress; however, not to try and appear as if you’re above someone when trying to make them understand. There’s no faster way to offend and turn a person off than acting as if you’re smarter than them.
Comfort and ignorance are harder to get over, as in these cases they’ve been permanently hardwired to see anything from the other side as evil, in a sense, and pride is a big factor as well. While I feel this may register as underhanded for some, I have no doubt it can lead to success. Approach them and say something their party is doing that they may not like, and say it’s the opposing side. It’ll lead them to be more critical of it and take a harsher look at it. If they decide to look further into and see it’s not the “enemy” making this choice, they can come to their conclusions.
There are those who also make the choice because they don’t like either political party. I call those antagonistic voters, and they are harder to deal with. If this isn’t the case, though, and my tips don’t help, there’s no harm in referring to the opening quote.