I was speaking to a woman in Harlem who was a mix of Puerto Rican, black, and white. Since New York State (NYS) will be having our primary on April 19th I squeezed the subject of politics into our conversation. The closer we get to the election, the more forward I am about discussing politics with random people. Yes, I’m that asshole who brings up politics at the dinner table, at a party, or while I’m in the bathroom taking a deuce in the stall next to you. My thought is, if we can share the odor of our excretions with each other, we should be able to share our political views.
So anyway, I asked the Puerto Rican/black/white woman in the stall next to mine ???? who she was voting for. She replied, “Hillary Clinton.” I asked her why. “‘cause she’s a female.” Being that I was in a minority neighborhood I wasn’t sure if she supported Hillary because she lacked information about Bernie and hence choosing Hillary based on brand recognition. Or if she was similar to some women voters downtown that knew all the information about both candidates, but still insisted on an anti-feminist view that having a woman President is the most important issue for American progress. I proceeded with caution.
She asked me, “Who are you voting for?” I smirked harder than Bernie when he’s asked a ludicrous question from the mainstream media and responded, “Bernie Sanders.” She replied, “Huh? Why are you voting for him?” I realized this woman knew nothing about Bernie. I took a deep breath and exhaled a list of Bernie’s positions, “He wants $15 minimum wage, single payer healthcare, ending private prisons, ending money in politics.” I knew she smoked weed so I added, “he wants to declassify marijuana from being a Schedule 1 drug and wants to create a path for states to legalize. He wants to end the War on Drugs and reduce the rate of incarceration.” Her eyes lit up, which is a hard thing to pull off for someone that’s stoned.
Many of you reading this are probably informed about Bernie, but she was shocked that a politician existed that talks about issues that are important to her, “Well, they (politicians) all just say those things.” I explained that Bernie is the only candidate who funds his campaign through individual donations, “Millions of people have donated to him at an average of $27 per donation. I contributed almost a $1,000 over the last year myself.” She was taken aback, “Wow, you must really like him.”
I knew I had almost persuaded her; when we were talking about LGBT rights, something she’s passionate about, I showed her a video of Bernie on the house floor in the 90s defending gay military soldiers when a congressman called them homos. As she watched Bernie lambast Rep. Cunningham, she was lightly trembling, with my phone shaking in her left hand, while she held a cigarette in the other, occasionally taking a hit to calm her nerves. She probably would’ve cried if I wasn’t in front of her. Watching her get emotional, I probably would’ve cried if she wasn’t in front of me ????.
I then gave her a link to ILikeBernieBut.com, which is a website with a text message style design that lays out his platform in a conversational format. Once she started scrolling through it she ignored me. After a few minutes of the short read, she turns to me and says, “all right, I gotta look into this guy.” I told her that if she plans on voting for him on April 19th, to also share this with friends and family. I was so happy because it took 10 minutes of passionately sharing my thoughts about my candidate and she was activated to be part of the political process.
It can be intimidating talking about politics with people you don’t know, but it has gotten very important to do so now. With only 21 states and a few territories left to vote, and with Bernie being favorable in these states, it’s become extremely important for our movement to spread his message farther than ever. The great thing about Bernie, he’s a product that sells itself. You’d be surprised how many people have been waiting for a revolution, but didn’t know it existed. All we have to do is tell them ✊.
What tools and tactics have you used to persuade others? Share your thoughts in the comments below.