Summary: Ending political conversations with an invite to participate in a mutual activity together seems to take the edge off.
Questions are one of the most powerful tools for mind-changing conversations. Asking someone why they believe in something, encouraging them to list the reasons (so you can argue with their reasons) is not typically effective. Instead of asking someone why they believe in a certain policy, especially a complex one, ask them to explain how their policy will work.
Two recommended communication techniques are to isolate trolls and to stick to your frame and values. These ideas are often in tension:
For example when neo-Nazis and white nationalists grab torches and march through our streets, we can isolate them and their supporters relatively easily, or talk about institutionalized and unconscious bias — where we have a lot of work to do before there is near-universal agreement.
George Lakoff talks about framing the issues: "protections," not "regulations." This article expands on George Lakoff's advice on framing.
What would it look like if the Democrats were more idealistic and stuck to their values with more oomph? What would it mean if they were pragmatic and tried to succeed even when we don't all agree about everything?
A variety of flavors of American white nationalism are on the rise. The Republican President has waffled about how evil Nazis are, often comparing them to the people protesting them. The racism-apologist frame is that this is a free-speech fight. That people giving Hitler's sieg heil salute and Americans who oppose them, if they get into a brawl, are equally at fault.
The Democrats's new slogan is here, "A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages."
Let’s break this down: What is the frame? Who is the implied speaker? What does it assume about the audience?
Most of the time we write congress to push them on a particular issue. With so many party-line votes, this is usually pointless in my district. What the Democrats are doing wrong is failing to put resources into developing and cooperating on messaging. Let's ask them to. I don't want to push my congresswoman to use the frame I prefer, but I want to hear why she chose the frame she did, to hear that someone bothered to run it past focus groups, and who she is cooperating with.
If conservatives believe one thing, it’s that government shouldn’t be able to take your property arbitrarily. At least, that was when conservatives believed in something.
—Robert Reich, a post going to thousands of progressives, on civil forfeiture.
This act by the Trump administration is a moment when conservatives distrustful of government just might be ready to have had enough. But our progressive leaders encourage us to assume the worst right from the beginning, to reinforce and remind and conservatives that we are on two teams and our team just scored a point. This is a moment when we can instead come together, act together, be one team again, across the partisan divide.
A lot of my motivation for activism comes from stories of Nazi Germany.