Many of us have Bernie-supporting Democratic friends who are feeling pretty jaded right now. I bet you know someone who is. Maybe a close friend, a family member, a Facebook friend…
They just worked so hard for a candidate they believed in and have come face to face with the corruption and rigging of their party process. Their nominee is exactly what they didn’t want: a wholly owned subsidiary of crony corporatist banksters and “defense” contractors. They will never vote for her, and asking them to feels like a slap in the face. At the same time, the wrongness of Clinton doesn’t make Trump any more right. They feel disenfranchised, disrespected and maybe just a little bit… politically homeless.
Remember that feeling?
Let’s try to welcome them – and their votes – to the Libertarian Party. We NEED to if we want our candidates to succeed!
But we need to be diplomatic about it and resist the urge to kick their guy when he’s already down. We need to be sensitive about where they are coming from and meet them where they are, politically.
Bernie supporters don’t see every issue the way we do – and that is ok. We can keep talking to them. Right now, we need for a lot of people who are searching for political options to feel comfortable enough with us to vote for Gary Johnson this fall.
Here are a few strategies that I have personally found most effective when reaching out to Bernie fans:
– Acknowledge their sense of betrayal. It is real. It is painful and personal to them. Resist the urge to gloat or taunt. Most of them won’t take that well. If we want our party to grow long term, it won’t be through insulting or alienating people who probably really do belong with us!
– Keep reminding your friends that there are options beyond Trump and Clinton, and that Governor Johnson will be on the ballot in all 50 states. Johnson is a proven leader with executive experience, and has very broad appeal across the political spectrum.
– Share points of interest about Gov. Johnson. He was a two-term governor of New Mexico. He’s a successful entrepreneur. He’s an athlete. He’s ethical, candid, honest, likable, trustworthy, and highly qualified. He is funded almost entirely by individual donations (not PACs) and has taken strong stances against crony corporatism in politics and in government. He’s pro-choice, he’s in favor of legalizing marijuana and ending our senseless wars overseas. He supports LGBT rights. Really, there is so much for progressives to like about him!
– Encourage other mutual Libertarian-leaning friends to talk with your friend. Let them see that other people they know are voting Libertarian. Some people need to see this before they will do it themselves.
– Encourage them to vote with courage. If we all voted for who we really thought the best candidate was, this country would be better for it. Also, a strong showing for Libertarians in this election will put the oligarchs on notice. The last thing they should want is Clinton OR Trump taking office with a strong mandate. Voting for one of them only encourages them.
– Show them the beautiful diversity of the Libertarian Party. No matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like, what they enjoy, what they believe, there are Libertarians like them. There is not a more diverse organization in America. We respect each other and believe in peaceful coexistence.
Be welcoming. Be kind. Be encouraging. Be respectful.
Let’s show America the beauty of liberty and the merit of our candidates. If we diligently and diplomatically share this message, Governor Johnson might just end up in the White House come January! But even if he doesn’t, our party will be bigger and stronger for your efforts.
Chair, Libertarian National Committee