The Sweet Spot

With the mid-term elections now behind us and the presidential election looming within 2 years, I’ve been fixated on finding the political/cultural Sweet Spot where some sense of unity can pull us out of this morass of polarization. When my candidate for state representative came up short on the election tally for the 3rd time against an entrenched incumbent despite a flawless, vigerous campaign, it gave me pause to consider “whats the sweet spot” to achieve change and success.

I’m having flashbacks to math classes when the teacher harped about the importance of the overlapping center of the venn diagrams, that common denominator that included elements of both circles.

To figure out who makes up this all important “swing vote”, sweet spot of the center, I decided to discount those who will never occupy the mid-point.

They are highlighted as the following:

  • The pro-life camp. They will never consider another candidate no matter how immoral or eggregious the behavior of their pro-life candidate.
  • The gun rights, 2nd amendment camp. Likewise, they can’t consider any other candidate no matter what they say or do.
  • A pro-life AND gun rights camper is definitely someone to court for the middle ground.
  • Anybody in the conspratorial, disgruntaled, disgusted, angry, apathetic camp is unlikely to be swayed by logic or arguments.
  • A recent conversation I had demonstrates the futility of conversing and attempting to convert persons from any of the above referenced camps. The person mentioned a couple of times how Bin Ladin and Obama share a strong resemblance implying that they might actually be the same person. I asked this person if he believed it to be true that Bin Ladin and Obama might be the same person. He initially said he did not believe this. However, he mentioned the notion a couple more times and it was obvious he had been influenced by this fantastical, conspiracy thinking. When I asked him what was the source of this info, he was not sure and followed up with a statement that he trusts none of the traditional news outlets. He finally noted that he did not like Obama or Biden and he liked Regan claiming that Democrats are too sympathetic to gays (even though he indicated he has nothing against gays). He topped off the conversation with notation that Democrats are too liberal big spenders who are morally compromised. That’s when I abandoned all hope of common ground.
  • To steal a line from the Soprano’s, I would say, “fogget about em”.

Back to contemplating where to find the holy grail of the swing voter, I reflected back on a conversation I had with a resident while knocking on doors supporting my candidate.

The person noted he voted for Bernie (good start) indicating he was an independent thinker who votes for the person and not just the party. He expressed skepticism about the “powers that be”. He expressed animosity, distrust for career politicians of both parties. Still good because my candiate would have been a first term state representative. However, he seemed bent on the topic of wastful spending. Coming from the private sector with graduate degrees and seeming to be affluent, he focused on R.O.I (Return On Investment with results driven policies). So far still good since we still seemed to be on the same page advocating zero based budgeting and not funding programs “just because we funded them before”. Still good but I sensed that he still was not fully on-board with my candidate who is generally a progressive candidate. Taxes were a hot-button topic for him and he perceved an unfairness to the middle and upper class who he felt pay an inordinate amount of taxes. When the conversation turned to matters of crime and punishment, he took a conservative turn with a focus on consequences (i.e, do the crime, do the time) and the lack of personal responsibility throughout society. I tried to emphasize the importance of severe sentancing for violent criminals while applying restorative justice, rehabilitation for non-violent offenders. We both agreed that the term Defund the Police should not be used since it sends an incorrect message. When I described rethinking how we do policing by deploying cops to scenes with a team of social workers and/or peer counselors, he did not object and he remained polite but I’m not sure if he was fully on board.

So how did he vote? I’ll never know. Maybe he didn’t even vote. He was an interesting guy…well educated, affluent, seemingly concerned/thoughfull. In sum, the suburban voter that’s coveted by both parties.

So how might we best pull this voter into the Democratic camp. I highlight the following suggesstions:

  • Emphasize CONSEQUENCES and COMPASSION (in this order) always starting with consequences in the converstion. If you start by assuring this person that you insist on personal responsibility mandating consequences for your actions, you can then move on to discussing programs/policies that include COMPASSION offering more coprehensive approaches to vexing social issues.
  • Emphasize specific examples of wasteful spending and superfluous, rediculous bureaucratic regulations. Now you have his attention and possibly support.
  • If you can build rapport and trust based upon the aforementioned conversational approaches, you might have a chance of pulling this type voter into your camp.
  • I present this proposal with the following major caveat. If you find yourself “selling your soul” trying to present your case for a balance between CONSEQUENCES and COMPASSION, it might be time to “draw a line in that sand” . If you are agreeing to cutting taxes and removing bureaucracy but at the expense of programs designed for the greater good, then it might be time to “draw the line in that sand”.

The magical sweet spot seems to be getting smaller and smaller and harder to find in this polarized world of news echo chambers. However, if the Democratic candidate can convince this type of voter that he/she will cut waste, cut bureaucracy, punish violent criminals, slow the expanion of government and stay out of the social/cultural wars , maybe we can draw that voter away from the radical right wing/conservative camps to find their way to the voting booth.

If these “fence sitters” can be convinced and the Democratic base can be motivated to show up, maybe that’s the long term solution. That said, I’m not sure how many “fence sitters” actually exist. I’m also getting an increasing feeling that it’s increasingly difficult to pull support from persons who are a combination of anger, distrust, apathy and affluence. My observation is that they tilt conservative/reactionary from the comfort of suburbia no matter how emphatic and energetic the presentation made to them.

I hate to end on this melancholy note so I’m throwing out the question “What’s your thoughts?”

Published by dunnwriteswell

Boomer who is late bloomer to writing. Healthy addictions include Book TV and exercise. Track all things historic, political, cultural, economic and social. Mixture of tough-love. Minimalist who is fiscally conservative and socially progressive. Realist not afraid to see the glass as half empty. However, still willing to consider outside-the-box, long term solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Old enough to appreciate the greater arc of history while remaining young at heart.

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