Talking with Disaffected Voters

They'll thank you later...

The 2024 election is the last remaining guardrail to save our Democracy and it will be close and contended. We not only have to win, but the win must be “too big to rig”. Every vote not cast or cast against the Democrats pushes us toward the abyss. Below are some ideas to help you convince the “disaffected voters” in your life to join the fight to save our country.

The term “disaffected voter” is used here as a catch-all for voters and non-voters who, for one reason or another, will not be voting to save our Democracy. These voters can fall into any of following categories (and probably more):

  • Protest voters
  • Far left Biden-haters
  • Third-party voters
  • Undecided voters
  • Disengaged citizens
  • Young voters
  • Habitual Republicans
  • Fiscal Republicans
  • MAGA/Republicans

Before getting further into this, imagine if every committed Democratic voter convinces at least one disaffected voter to vote for Biden and the Democrats. That would create an overwhelming win. One way to help make this happen is to share this article with other committed voters so that they can reach out to the disaffected voters in their circles. Sharing this with those in purple areas of the country would be even more impactful – this is where we really need to start these conversations.

There are endless reasons why someone would be a disaffected voter. Protest voters may be focused on Palestine or climate change. Habitual Republicans may have it in their heads (from conservative rhetoric) that voting for a Democrat is a sign of weakness. Third-party voters (including Independent and unaffiliated voters) may have ideological preferences, still cling to “both sides are equally bad”, or have no idea of just how dangerous RFK is. Disengaged voters may have never been engaged and their inaction may be habitual or they may feel their vote is meaningless because of corruption, their living in a deep “Red” state, or because “both sides are the same”.

Most MAGA/Republicans believe they are the ones saving Democracy and it would be difficult to have them understand anything else this close to the election – some, however, are reachable. Some young adult voters may also require a different approach.

If anyone in your life is a disaffected voter today then they simply do not realize what’s at stake in the 2024 election. They take Democracy for granted (as do many of us) and they don’t understand what Trump and his oligarch enablers have planned for us. If the reality of current events hasn’t reached some of your friends and family at this point then you must step in – they are your friends and family and it’s your job to help them.

Talking politics can no longer be taboo. If you need motivation to start these conversations then picture them asking “Why didn’t you tell me?” after Democracy is suddenly gone for good. 

Let’s do this

Think of your friends and family who you know are voting for Joe Biden and Democrats this year. Now think of all the rest – these are potential disaffected voters who you should consider talking to. To get maximum benefit from your efforts, prioritize those “purple” (states or districts) areas of the country – they don’t need to be your neighbors (especially if you live in the suburbs of Boston, for example). As mentioned earlier, the purple areas will make the biggest difference.

If your disaffected voters understood all they were about to lose and just how bad their world will be (not could be) then they would be fighting to be first in line to vote for Joe Biden and the Democrats. Let’s help them past their indifference, grudges, and habits – at least for this one election.

Talking politics is tricky and folks in these conversations can quickly get frustrated. If you approach this with a foundation of avoiding superiority, arguments, and insults your chances for success improve.

The Discussions

Make it personal – This is not a text or email thing. This is a talk thing. Ideally, it’s an eye-to-eye thing. Sit down with them or pick up the phone if you have to. Email is a last resort.

Do this in private – It’s best to have these conversations in private. Not doing so could be embarrassing for them and force them into a defensive position and your efforts will backfire.

Take your time – Some folks may take longer than others to come around. This will most likely not be a single conversation and will require the occasional follow-up. If you see the person often then only occasionally bring up the topic. Don’t be discouraged if it takes weeks or even months – it can take time to loosen somebody from their stance.

Start with learning – There are countless reasons why somebody could be a disaffected voter and you need to understand what that is for the particular person you’re talking to. Learn about their priorities and concerns in a respectful way so that you truly understand them. If needed, do your homework on these issues and re-engage.

Don’t insult – They could be just as emotionally invested in not being involved or being “above it all” as MAGA is in trying to break everything. Nobody wants to hear “you don’t understand”, “don’t you know?”, “How can you not care?”, etc. Nobody wants to experience your sarcasm and rolling eyes. Remember, it’s human nature to double down on a position when attacked.

Be firm if you need to – Depending on your relationship with them, you may decide to give them a stern reality check. One of the best ways to do this is to explain how Trump’s America will harm their loved ones. Just make sure it’s not in front of others.

Help them vote – Help them if they need to register to vote or if they don’t understand the process. Physically walk them through it – depending on the state, it can often be done online.

There are plenty of reasons why voters have checked out of or were never interested in politics, but right now their votes are desperately needed. It’s worth repeating that anyone who is a “disaffected voter” doesn’t know what’s going on. Whether it’s Project 2025, the Rise of Christian Nationalism, Putin’s capture of the Republican Party, or the continued threat of climate change, they (and you) must understand what’s at stake for them and anyone they care about.  The threats to our Democracy,  health, wallets, and planet are very real and we must do all we can to help people understand the dangers just around the corner.

While you might have to help folks move past a specific issue, there are also some general things that folks need to hear and think about:

  • Both sides are not the same – that argument is long gone.

  • This election is not about Republican policies vs Democratic policies.  “Republican” is an old label for a new cabal of billionaires, oligarchs, corporations, religious zealots, opportunists, and foreign interests.

  • Republicans will increase corruption and tilt the playing field more than they already have. 

  • Trump will continue to stack the court system and DOJ with more extremists who will re-interpret the Constitution for their corporate, Christian extremist, authoritarian benefactors.

  • A second Trump term will be much worse than the first – he’ll load his Cabinet and our agencies with psychopaths – nothing will keep him in check.

  • Imagine what faith-based government will do to birth control, medical treatment, medical research, and health coverage. Do you want folks who believe “rape is God’s will” to be dictating your health outcomes?

  • Global authoritarians are attacking Democracy worldwide and this election will either make them win or lose – for good.

  • Authoritarianism will catch up to you and those you care about – it always does.

  • Voting for your party or cause over Democracy will permanently end your party or cause.

Disaffected voters have plenty of specific concerns heading into this election –  too many to address here, but here are a few top contenders.

  • The economy and inflation – The Biden economy is breaking 50-year records and is continuing to improve. More importantly, he created many new and high-paying jobs through his Infrastructure Bill and his work to bring manufacturing jobs home. Some prices remain high, but that’s primarily because of price gouging by corporate America – so the billionaires funding Trump’s return to power in 2025 are the same guys taking your money now.
  • Fiscal Responsibility – Under Trump, the Market will tank along with the economy because of incompetent government agencies, institutionalized grifting, inconsistent treatment of businesses, selective enforcement of the law, mass deportations, etc. Your wealth will matter less and will not protect you in a fascist or authoritarian state, indeed, it might be a target. Vote for Biden to protect your wealth – it will be the best investment you ever make.
  • Border Security – This has always been an issue and the GOP has always kept it an issue. It was never and is still not worth losing our Democracy over. This is a prime example of how the GOP simultaneously hurts the country and lies to and exploits its voters, allowing them to remain in power to further enrich the wealthy.
  • Palestine – Biden didn’t start it, it will be much worse for Palestinians and all Muslims everywhere if Trump wins. Voting against Biden because of Palestine is you falling for a trap.
  • Student Loan Forgiveness – Conservative Justices, AGs, and dark money legal groups attack every attempt Biden makes at relieving student debt. Wouldn’t you rather have a president and party that will continuously work on this issue?
  • Climate Change – Biden has been making significant progress here. You might think he isn’t going far enough fast enough, but voting for anyone else will result in massive deregulation of industries and the shit-canning of climate legislation. A Trump or Republican win will stop and reverse climate change initiatives.
  • Anti-establishment – Is the “establishment” that bad if America continues to be the leader of the free world? The “establishment” does more for us than we realize. Those who continually tell us not to trust the establishment are those who want to exploit us, our wallets, and our planet without oversight and regulation from the establishment.

The thing is, we won’t be able to pick and choose what parts we want from the new Christo-Corporate-Authoritarianism. We will get it all and we will lose all of Democracy.

What we will lose

Some folks may not realize what the pending attack on Democracy will do to their lives in the near and long term – this is partly because we take so much for granted. This election is the last chance to save our Democracy and all the opportunities and protections it gives us.

We all need the occasional reminder that public servants help us in big and small ways every day and that our government has improved our lives in transformative ways.

The bottom line

With permanent authoritarianism and the survival of the planet on the ballot, indifference is not acceptable, passive opposition is not admirable nor justified, and the inability to set aside petty or habitual political differences for this ONE election is immoral.

All the voters in your circles need to understand this.