This Thanksgiving, don't have a political argument, have a "structured organizing conversation"

Originally published at:


Sounds like you’re gonna need a video projector and a PPP in order to do this efficiently.


To my centrist/neoliberal comrades: If your relative asks you if working for a centrist or neoliberal candidate will create the kind of change you’re hoping for, you can say:

“Yes, because if that centrist or neoliberal candidate has broad support amongst the Democrats who share a slightly different set of values to your preferred candidate, voting for them will not only prevent the election of Donald Trump, it will also bring about the reforms you mentioned. Even the most centrist Democrat on the ticket still wants universal healthcare and will protect access to abortion, for instance. The idea that the Democrat ticket isn’t inherently progressive is a lie spread by those who seek to further divide the left and/or literal Russian propagandists. Let’s not forget how Barack Obama, who wasn’t hugely progressive, made incremental improvements that had a major impact on the lives poor folks in America. To choose but one example, Obamacare was the first step in a larger set of reforms which would have been implemented if the populace had signaled their readiness by not electing Donald Trump.”

Finally, make a “followup plan” — a time when you can get together again in person or on the phone to discuss how they can get involved, either by begging their Bernie-or-bust friends to vote for the eventual Democrat candidate instead of abstaining (or voting Trump) or by holding “Bush/Obama comparison parties” so as to contextualize how even slight leftward movement massively improved the country, despite recent rhetoric which conveniently forgets this fact.


I reckon in some cases once you start introducing AV equipment, you run a high risk of it getting hijacked for an MLM pitch.


I read that article. For me personally, anyone who approaches me like that is getting a dish of potatoes in the face. It struck me more as MLM sales pitching than union organizing. There’s fifteen different candidates with varying levels of policy proposals. There is no one “right” one. This type of argument fails to sway and only irritates, it comes off as disingenuous and self-serving. Especially the intro where they tell you to feign interest in the family member before hitting them with all those leading questions.

Screw that. Pass the pie, talk about how aunt Martha is still farting and not admitting it, and go home full and happy.

I’m not sure how talking less and asking more is a controversial idea. Is it really a bad idea to be having these kinds of discussions at all? Jeez you guys

In my personal opinion (and only my opinion) I feel it’s unacceptable to walk into a friendly family gathering with an agenda, rather than with the purpose of enjoying the company. If someone asks me my views (as someone did yesterday), I’m happy to share them. In essence, it’s the purpose that matters. The article creates a clear agenda of “go in and convert your family,” rather than “hey, if they ask you, here’s what you can do to persuade them without being a dick.”

In principle I agree it’s a good idea to approach controversial conversations by focusing on specifics, avoiding ideology, and do more asking of questions than stating of your own opinions.

However that stops working if, like my in-laws, the concerns expressed are not “healthcare costs” or “the dwindling middle class”. Their concerns are brown people, and nothing they believe about any topic is true because of Fox and Facebook. I have yet to find a rhetorical strategy for those conversations and so I change the subject.

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I agree. These hypothetical conversations feel like progressive wish fulfillment. Especially the assumption that conservative voters’ concerns are solely economic, ignoring religion completely.

My Mom is voting for the candidate that will end abortion, and keep secular thought out of public schools full stop. From reading conservative commentators, I don’t think this is an isolated point of view.

Abstract concerns about a shrinking middle class are completely secondary to an acutely felt pain that the role of Christianity in everyday life is dying, and religious conservatives will rally behind any candidate they think will relieve that pain before caring about anything else.

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Exactly this. It’s hard to have a nuanced conversation with someone who’s viewpoint is “we just gotta get back to God” but has no further thoughts on what that actually means, or any understanding of the surrounding issues.

This type of advice always seems to be predicated on the idea that you’re debating with a version of yourself who simply believes opposite things for equally thought-out reasons. That has not been my experience with my in-laws and their friends. This is ideology, and you can’t argue against it by definition.

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“Structured organizing conversation”? Yes, but I came here for an argument.

That’s next door, you stupid git.
This is abuse.

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