From Volunteer Coordinator Austin Petersen:
This past weekend at 10AM an Obama supporter dropped by my apartment. A quiet voice from my speaker system asked if I would be voting for Obama in the coming election. “I’ll be right there,” I said.
I rushed to find all the appropriate Bob Barr literature I could get my hands on as well as my business card. I was hurriedly thinking about what kind of approach to take with this young person. Knowing they are volunteering to go door to door, I assume they are hard line democrat, but I always go into every situation with a positive attitude and with the belief that you can always make someone think twice if you spin the issues the correct way. Maybe there was still some hope left for this volunteer.
The gentleman was very polite and gracious in his approach, and he asked me whether or not I had decided to vote for Barack Obama. I calmly looked him in the eye and said hesitantly, “I was thinking about voting Democrat, but I am against the War in Iraq.” His eyes shot open, and before he could say anything, I followed up with a smile and, aiming for the weak point I said, “You know, I actually liked Obama for a while, but I was really disappointed in his vote for Telecom Immunity and FISA. You see, Civil Liberties are very important to me. Also, he has said that all options are on the table in concern to Iran, and I just don’t think that’s productive in creating a more Progressive foreign policy.”
He was flabbergasted. All he could say was the old familiar standby that every politico embraces when there’s nothing else to say… “Well he’s better than McCain at least.”
“Oh you’re right about that,” I replied. “I won’t be voting for him either. No, I think I will be voting Libertarian this year.”
The gentleman smiled and said, “I understand, I voted for Nader. Oh well, this is good information anyway. Would you like to come to Obama’s campaign event we are having in Alexandria? You can come if you promise not to convert too many people to vote for Bob Barr.” I told him I would be glad to come and took Mr. Obama’s ‘Change you can believe in’ pamphlet. I’ll look forward to meeting his friends at the event.
You see, by taking your opponents side and strongly endorsing their core issues immediately, they will see you as a friend and not an enemy. Thus you gain their trust, and can speak to them non-confrontationally about the issues that you both agree on. It’s best to avoid talking about economic issues with Democrats, and social issues with Republicans. Note the underlined keywords in the exchange with the Obama supporter. Using the right keywords is essential to show the person that you care about their issues.
Try and find the thing that you agree on together, and work from there. For example, a conversation with a McCain supporter can go something like this: “Gee, you know I was thinking about voting for McCain, but I am a fiscal conservative and support lower taxes, and more economic freedom.” This works every time by placing yourself into the same issues that your opponent cares about, thus earning their trust while piquing their interest. The only stipulation is that you have got to have memorized some decent research to back up your claims on why the Republicans and Democrats will not back you and your opponent on the issues you both believe in. Remember, everyone is a potential ally, and no matter what prejudices we might have individually towards certain left or right organizations, the truth is that the Libertarians can find common ground amongst most of them. Everyone is Libertarian about something!
Try these techniques in your campaigning, and see if they don’t work for you.