Project Wonderful

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Deep Canvass Your Relatives

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I wanted to do a longer post on this but then of course time became a thing and like many of us when it comes to the election I go back and forth between being able to engage thoughtfully and turning into a ranting sniveling mess.

I first want to say that I really feel for anyone who is spending the holidays with relatives who support Donald Trump. I still feel betrayed and incensed by my relatives who voted for Clinton but propagated the misogynistic language during the primary that I feel ultimately contributed (along with a boat load of other things) to this electoral outcome. I can only imagine having to share Thanksgiving with Trumpster fires. You are sincerely in my prayers.

There has been a lot of discussion over whether its appropriate, admissible or even incumbent upon us to talk about 2016 at the Thanksgiving table. I know my boyfriend and I are dreading having these conversation with my relatives, all of whom supported Clinton, but are less politically engaged than we are and likely to come at us with their own aggressive hot takes not at all hampered by the fact that this is our field of expertise.

Our friends at the Campaign Workshop shared an interview with Episcopal Reverend Tim Schenck for those taking the "I'd rather not go there" approach.

This will shock absolutely none of my readership, but I am quite comfortable arguing with my family even on holidays. This is in part because I'm Nancy and in part because I'm Jewish. Many Jewish holidays center on wrestling with interpretations of morality, questioning what we have been taught and even arguing with God shimself. And if I can have that argument, even my relatives are a piece of cake.

One of the many things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving is a family that loves me and whom I love unconditionally, who share my values and for the most my interpretation of how those values should present themselves in our democracy. I recognize not everyone has that privilege. I don't mean to advocate for you to participate in actions that supersede your mental health.

However, when a colleague, who it should be noted has a very different relationship with her family, shared this article with the note "deep canvass your relatives," I was immediately drawn to the idea. Deep canvass as you may remember, is a method of voter contact that essentially allows the target to persuade themselves by answering thought provoking questions. You can read more about deep canvass here. When I consider the very few people in my life who voted for Donald Trump I am inclined to ask them that which is also the title of this New York Times article, "How Could You?" which presents 19 questions to ask your loved ones on the opposite side of our bitterly fought and bitterly disappointing presidential race. Those questions are:

1. Describe your relationship to me.

2. Are we close?

3. Who did I vote for and why?

4. What was the most important issue for me?

5. Why do you feel differently about that issue?

6. How do you think our views came to be so different?

7. Has it been difficult to talk to me about this election? If so, why?

8. Do my views influence your politics at all?

9. What do you think most needs to change about this country?

10. Are you uncomfortable about any aspect of how America is changing?

11. Do you think I’m sexist or racist?

12. Do you feel ignored or misunderstood as a voter? If so, for how long?

13. What is a position my candidate held that you agree with?

14. What is a trait you find positive about my candidate?

15. What is something that you don’t like about the candidate you voted for?

16. Is there anything you are hopeful about in a Trump presidency?

17. Is there a goal Clinton talked about that you could get behind?

18. What do you think we agree on?

19. Do you still like me?

Even more fascinating, the article offers a link to The Run Up podcast, which features sets of relatives having just this conversation.

I mean this not to be saccharine but as political necessity;our current state of affairs is severely lacking in empathy. I am as guilty of it as anyone. I CANNOT put myself in the position of someone who voted for Donald Trump, insurance premiums be damned. If we can't see where the other side is coming from, we can't communicate effectively and we will continue to lose elections. As I piece together my own personal version of "what's next" I know that listening and communicating in a way that meets people where they are is essential for progress as well as my own ability to reconcile what I believe to be true about our country with what happened at the polls. I will continue to share opportunities I find to do this and most of all continue to be grateful for your friendship and your readership today and every day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Campaign Love and Mine,


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