This is the second article in a series about how to use persuasion during the 2018 campaign. Today I want to concentrate on the role women will play both as activists and voters in 2018. Let’s explore.
Let’s get one key thing straight right from the get-go; generally speaking American women do not have a positive feeling about Party labels. If you are speaking to a Democratic Women’s organization that is the exception; otherwise talk about causes. Women (and they are not the only group of Americans to which this applies) passionately care about causes. Remember persuasion is all about motivating someone to vote, donate, or volunteer. If you want to motivate them you have you have to start by getting them to listen.
The biggest mistake Democratic recruiters (especially in female-to-female conversations) make is to confront a Republican woman with the accusatory question “How can you be a Republican?” I have to admit that without prior planning I would fall into that trap. To me it is mindboggling that any woman would vote for a Republican much less register as one. That is simply contrary to their self-interests. Not everything in politics is logical. I ask you to look no further than Thomas Frank’s 2004 book What’s The Matter With Kansas or the 2016 election of Donald Trump as proof.
It can’t be nature so it must be nurture, but women are superior multi-taskers to men. I may be the poster boy for males who are at best extremely uncomfortable with multi-tasking. I like to do one thing at a time and complete my task. Another factor is the old saw: if you want something done ask a busy person to do it. When I have recruited volunteers few things frustrated me as much as people who had an abundance of free time telling me they were too busy to volunteer.
Many contemporary American women work outside the house, (often in demanding jobs), and are still the primary homemakers, caretakers and child care providers. If you sufficiently motivate that type of woman somehow she will find a few hours to volunteer her valuable skills to a cause she believes in. Her male partner is likely to tell you he’d love to do it but he needs to mow the lawn (on his riding lawnmower) on Saturday.
During my lifetime American women have become more empowered than ever. World War II was a huge turning point, (as it was on many things). However I still remember the ‘50’s when many women stayed in their suburban home as the husband went to work. Those Ozzie and Harriet days are over. In many households the woman is the largest earner. Who cares; the relationship is supposed to be a partnership!
Biologically women are the only people capable of bearing children. Women’s reproductive rights are a huge issue for most women especially younger, single women. I know demographics shift over time but I remember from 2012 research that women under 35 regardless of marital status were the best prospects for Democrats.
The key, as it is in most sales situations, is to listen. If you are speaking to a group get there early, engage some of those already there in a conversation and chances are they will tell you what is important to them. Don’t use your canned stump speech – they will see through it and start counting ceiling tiles. Incorporate what you heard and show how your platform addresses it. Unlike most Americans I’m a 30,000 foot/stats person. Most Americans love personal stories. Especially if you are also a woman, if you can tell a personal story that relates to them you are a long way home toward victory. Then follow up both at the venue by getting names and contact information and afterwards with calls, letters or emails. When you are successful don’t forget the two most powerful words in the English language: thank you.
In summation I see women as the key to the 2018 election both as activists and voters. Progressive candidates (and along with them America) simply cannot win without them.
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