I Made a Mistake, and Now I'll Convert A Republican

I recently made an embarrassing mistake which really gave me something to think about.  I was out to lunch with a few colleagues, when one person told me he wanted to talk some politics with me.  This person and I spoke frequently about politics, and we were both Hillary supporters.  A third person chimed in asked me if I was a Republican, and I was a little taken aback by that.  The idea makes my skin crawl.  Of course, I said "Not in this lifetime!". He then told me that he was, and I should consider voting for John McCain.  That one stopped me in my tracks, because he's black.

Of course, I'm black too, as is the other Hillary supporter I mentioned.  But I just assumed since this man was black, he must also be a Democrat. It literally never even crossed my mind hat a young black man from Haiti might be a Republican.  I was appalled that he was supporting McCain, but I was more appalled by my own reaction.  Am I fostering stereotypes of my own?  Am I practicing my own brand of identity politics?

At any rate, once I recovered, I told everyone that of course I would be supporting Obama.  He wasn't one of my top choices, but I'm a Democrat, and the choice between him and John McCain isn't even a close call. It's like asking if I'd rather have a nice juicy steak or chew on my own arm.

Then Mr. Republican started talking about universal health care, and I saw an opening.  He listens to Michael Savage every day (my head nearly exploded upon learning this) and my friend believes what that fool Savage tells him every day.  Universal health care doesn't work, blah blah blah. You've all heard these lies before, so I won't bother to repeat them.

When my friend was talking, I noticed he didn't seem well informed on the subject. He clearly only knew what he heard from Savage and the odious Neal Boortz.  So I've decided to make it my mission to convert him.  I'm going to give him the facts of Obama's Healthcare Plan and make him understand why the free market system he loves so much doesn't work with regard to healthcare.

He's has agreed to engage in the discussion with me because he respects my opinion, so this is a great opportunity.  I'll also be giving him a few Thom Hartmann podcasts to listen to - there's no one on our side smarter and more willing to engage right wing nuts like savage than Thom.

Any advice you guys want to give to help me would be greatly appreciated.

Tags: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Identity Politics, universal health care (all tags)



Any advice on how to convert my friend?

All help is appreciated.

by Denny Crane 2008-06-23 06:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Any advice on how to convert my friend?

Don't try to covert for starters. Converting someone is a bigger hurdle than asking them to give Obama a chance based on a sound policy review of both candidates on issues that are most important to him.

Ask him before you meet up " can you tell me what do you really  love about our goverence as far the current status quo" and  what would be some great additions". He lead down to the path of what matters to him most. Something no savage or bootz can reach. They ask people to make their issues the people's issues . Not the other way around.

Keep using this sentence ever so often before you start talking about obama's plan to address his issue.

" I ask you to give obama a chance for the next 4 years because ...."

Thats best way to bring someone over vs "you should not be republican because" or "the democrats are better blah blah".  

I mean look around here, the rabid Obama supporters have not changed a single mind to Obama that was not already voting for him. If anything they probably make most like me go " hope they are not representing him in public".

by aliveandkickin 2008-06-23 07:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Any advice on how to convert my friend?

and denny a special kudos to you because I know I have seen your name ( it kinda stands out)while scanning thru comments  on taylormarsh.com. a taylormarsh convert to obama , is a true blue at heart.

by aliveandkickin 2008-06-23 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Any advice on how to convert my friend?

well unless that handle is used by another person there... :)

by aliveandkickin 2008-06-23 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Any advice on how to convert my friend?

I guarantee that I haven't ever posted at Taylor Marsh.

by Denny Crane 2008-06-24 07:39AM | 0 recs
Tell him

about how Obama is going to protect his privacy by leading a filibuster on the FISA bill in the senate.

by gaf 2008-06-23 08:04AM | 0 recs
By the way

I highly rec'd this diary because you are talking about the reality we have all run into and the action that we all need to take!

by kevin22262 2008-06-23 08:31AM | 0 recs
Convert A Repub

Ask him why he's a Republican, and why he supports McCain.

If he's an ideological conservative, then you can argue how radical and corrupt the Bush Administrative has been.  There's a fine line between shrinking government/deregulation (conservative principles) and the sort of wholesale transfer of wealth to cronies who play ball that this administration has indulged in.

If he supports McCain because of his service and heroism, point out that that very heroism has left McCain with a blind spot about the military and foreign policy.  McCain suffered for his country for years in a black box: he never had his faith in the military and its ability to provide solutions shaken.  He emerged from Hanoi with his belief in the military strengthened.  Now, that's generally a good thing--but it doesn't give him a lot of perspective on questions such as, like, was the Iraq policy foolhardy and has it failed.  Ask him if he thinks that having a relic of the Vietnam generation who never learned its lessons at the helm during our generation's foreign misadventure is a good idea.

Ask him about the Court.  It's the last barrier to an imperial presidency, which any true conservative should be skeptical of.  The Bush people's radicalism is most shocking in their attempts to redefine the balance of powers between the branches.  Is he willing to trade an untrammelled executive for no same-sex marriage?

Finally, ask him if he reads James McWhorter or if he's heard of Black Republicans for Obama.  I'm not too familiar but I imagine they have a website with good arguments.  I'd also recommend Andrew Sullivan as a (white) Reagan conservative who greatly admires Obama.  Pointing out voices that will appeal to his conservatism while showing Obama's strengths will be helpful.

Unfortunately, if your friend thinks Savage is a reasonable voice, you're going to have a long slog.  

by Koan 2008-06-23 07:17AM | 0 recs
Way to go Denny!

I hope he responds reasonably.

by kevin22262 2008-06-23 08:28AM | 0 recs
I would say

to just give him the facts, talk sanely and don't expect him to change his mind or his ways right away.

Facts are a curious thing. If you let them seep in, then you can't ignore them.

by kevin22262 2008-06-23 08:30AM | 0 recs
A bit tangential, but

seeing that the young man is from Haiti, I wouldn't be quite as surprised at his politics. In my experience, Non-American black men fall in all shades of the political spectrum, unlike we Americans, who do tend to be strongly Dem.

One of the most conservative people I ever met was the daughter of a high-ranking African official.

by Neef 2008-06-23 08:38AM | 0 recs
Re: I Made a Mistake, and Now I'll Convert A Repub

I have found that when talking to a republican or conservative about health care the best argument is one from a business aspect. The most anti-competitive thing American business has to deal with is employer sponsored health care managed by the insurance industry.

I lived in Michigan most of my life. I worked in the auto industry, as so many Michigan residents do (did), and am very familiar with the troubles of American corporations. More than once over the last couple of decades, a new auto plant has ended up being built right next door in Ontario instead of being built in Michigan. There are disadvantages to building in Canada, mainly higher taxes. It isn't because of unionization, the Canadian unions are as strong or stronger than the ones in the US. It isn't because of a trained labor force, both areas are equal in that regard. It isn't because of more favorable business regulation, if anything the Canadian regulations are more strict. It certainly isn't because of taxes. Canadian taxes are  higher. There's only one clear advantage to building in Canada - they have government sponsored health insurance. This removes a huge burden from the employer.

All over the world, the countries we compete with have this one huge advantage. Every developed country that we compete with has universal health care of one sort or another. Even China has this advantage. Employer sponsored health care acts as a huge tariff on American corporations. Remove this tariff and they instantly become more competitive. This would change the playing field immensely. I have found this argument to be far more effective than talking about 'fairness' or 'preventing people from falling through the cracks'.

This isn't the only argument to be made for UHC from a fiscal viewpoint. There is also the extra burden put upon our hospitals to treat the uninsured. Move people from emergency rooms to doctors' offices and you have another large savings. Put all people under a single plan and you have negotiating power with suppliers, like the drug companies. That's an advantage the govt foolishly gave away with the medicare drug plan. That's what happens when you favor corporate interests over those of the citizenry.

Once you show that UHC isn't simply some giant entitlement giveaway, you can get a person to reconsider some of the other policy initiatives promoted by Democrats.

by MS01 Indie 2008-06-23 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: I Made a Mistake...

I know that African Americans have traditionally sided with the Democrats by huge margins but I can't help but believe that a good chunk of them are conservative Republicans at heart (and may vote that way in the secrecy of the booth)

It just stands to reason that people choose their political orientation based on more than skin color.  If whites are split between the two major parties, what should keep blacks from being split?

I think that an Obama presidency will actually result in a large portion of African Americans peeling away from the Democrats and declaring their political freedom.

Once that barrier has been broken, they will lose that sense of obligation to the Democratic party.

How often have we all heard blacks complain that Democrats just take them for granted?  I'm certain the feeling is deeper than we acknowledge.

In 2000 I was working with an African American friend on a project in Los Angeles and just before the election we were talking.  He told me, "Do not assume that every black person you meet is a Democrat".

And, while so many of us believed that Gore couldn't lose, he also told me, "Anything can happen... Antything".

He was right, that's for sure.

Of course I do not want to lose Democratic party identification with any constituent group but don't be surprised of we discover more Black Republicans after Obama becomes president.

by wblynch 2008-06-23 09:32AM | 0 recs
Re: I Made a Mistake...

I'm not African American, so you can discount my views, if you wish. However, what you're saying here doesn't make sense. Why would an AA president turn peiple off from his party? Wouldn't the fact that party nominated and helped elect the first AA president mean that AA's would be more likely to support that party? You are saying that electing an AA man as president would push AA's away. That seems totally wrong to me.

by MS01 Indie 2008-06-23 10:54AM | 0 recs
Re: I Made a Mistake...

I'm not saying they will be pushed away.  I'm saying that many are philosophically aligned with the conservatives and an Obama presidency will allow them to feel freed to leave.

Once the first African American is elected to the presidency, then it will never be the same hurdle to elect the next.

I believe that many African Americans stayed with the Democratic party because they always felt it was the best path to an African American presidency.

I am not African American either but I know a lot who understandably feel that Bush did a lot for them by placing Colin Powell and Condoleza Rice in positions of great power.

I think in a different time Barack Obama would be a Republican himself.

by wblynch 2008-06-23 11:42AM | 0 recs
Re: I Made a Mistake...

I think in a different time Barack Obama would be a Republican himself.

Well sure, I might have been a Republican in a different time. However, times have changed, as have the parties.

The Republican party is no longer the party led by Lincoln or even the party led by Teddy Roosevelt. Today's Republican party has pretty much done a 180.

The same is true of the Democratic party to some extent. The party that gave us the Jim Crow laws and divisive identity politics has flipped to the other side. How these parties both morphed so completely is a fascinating story. Someday in the future, the same thing might happen again.

Today's Republican party has become a militaristic, homophobic, corporatist party that uses fear and loathing as weapons. There's nothing there for me and I would hope nothing there for any fair minded people.

by MS01 Indie 2008-06-23 11:57AM | 0 recs
More than skin deep

It just stands to reason that people choose their political orientation based on more than skin color.  If whites are split between the two major parties, what should keep blacks from being split?

In my opinion it's not skin color - although it looks that way.

If you look at how the AA population is distributed, by and large we tend to be concentrated in certain areas. In these areas, economic conditions tend not to vary widely (no million dollar mansions in Bronx), and education tends to be similarly narrowly focused. Once a black man gets a good education and a six-figure job, he's probably (like definitely) going to move.

If you have a group with similar background, demographics, location, education and finances - why would you expect that group to embrace wildly diverse politics?

by Neef 2008-06-23 10:06AM | 0 recs
Re: More than skin deep

You make a very good point.  I am just conveying my experience from conversations I have with African Americans in Southern California, most of whom are upper middle class.  As these are the people I'm more exposed to in my work and the community where I live.

I grew up just east of Oakland, California in the 60s and 70s and the African Americans I knew there and then did have different viewpoints.  (but the Caucasians of San Francisco and Oakland were much more liberal as well).

I have witnessed a huge progression of AAs into the upper middle class over the past 30 years and it stands to reason they will adapt different political views as they progress.

So yes, I will agree with you about Urban blacks or even Rust Belt and blue collar people.  But hopefully we can all agree that not all African Americans are low income people stuck in inner-city "ghettos"?  That's a horrible thought for me.

For people in rural and agricultural areas, in traditionally more conservative places and of improving economic means, I see the possibility of realignment.

by wblynch 2008-06-23 11:55AM | 0 recs

But hopefully we can all agree that not all African Americans are low income people stuck in inner-city "ghettos"

Oh yes, not all - I quite agree.

I will say the percentages are much higher than I'm happy with, even so. The median income for black families in 2004 was 30,000/yr compared to 46,000/yr for the nation at large. That's a fairly large difference, and housing distributions can probably be expected to reflect that.

by Neef 2008-06-23 01:27PM | 0 recs


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