Talking with Frustrated 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 simple ideas to help the “frustrated voters” in your life join the fight to save our country.

The term “frustrated 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. Frustrated voters generally fall into the following categories

  • Protest voters
  • Habitual Republicans
  • Third-party voters
  • The disengaged
  • Young voters
  • MAGA/Republicans

There are endless reasons why someone would be a frustrated voter. Protest voters may be focused on Palestine or climate change. Habitual Republicans may have it in their heads (from conservative rhetoric, their upbringing, their peers, or their careers) 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 frustrated 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.

Politics can no longer be a taboo topic. If you need motivation to have 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 frustrated voters who you should consider talking to.

If your frustrated voters appreciated 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.

There are three steps to this – learning how to have these discussions, explaining the threats, and, if needed, explaining what we’ll lose.

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.

Start with learning – There are countless reasons why somebody could be a frustrated 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. 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 “frustrated 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 threats that are just around the corner.

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

  • Both sides are not the same – that argument is long gone.
  • Older Conservative SCOTUS justices will retire and Trump will replace them with even more extremist justices who will re-interpret the Constitution for their corporate, Christian, authoritarian benefactors.
  • Republicans will stop climate change initiatives
  • Republicans will increase corruption and tilt the playing field more than they already have. 
  • The economy and stocks will tank with incompetent government agencies, institutionalized grifting, inconsistent treatment of businesses, selective enforcement of the law, mass deportations, etc.
  • A second Trump term will be much worse than the first – he’ll surround himself with psychopaths and the guardrails will be torn down – nothing will keep him in check.
  • Voting for your cause over Democracy will permanently end your ability to support your cause
  • Voting for your party over Democracy will permanently end your party
  • Vote blue this time so you’ll be able to vote Republican or third party the next time
  • 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?
  • This election is not about Republican policies vs Democratic policies.  The word “Republican” is an old label for a new party billionaires, oligarchs, corporations, religious zealots, opportunists, and foreign interests.
  • Global authoritarians are attacking Democracy worldwide and this election will either make them win or lose – for good.
  • Your wealth will matter less if you are living in an authoritarian state
  • Authoritarianism will catch up to you and those you care about – it always does.

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.

The frustrated voters you know need to understand this.