I'm a Bernie Sanders supporter. I have been probably for more than a year, though I can't pin down the exact date that I made the decision to support him. I have never liked Hillary Clinton and certainly found no reason to favor anyone in the GOP clown car.
But I find that with my posts on my blog and the posts that I share on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, there are Hillary Clinton supporters who seem to think that I should just throw in the towel and cast my lot with a presidential candidate who is the subject of an active criminal investigation. They will say directly or by implication that a vote for anyone else, especially Bernie Sanders, is a vote for Trump. That's the guilt trip they try to lay on me, yet there is nothing implied or explicit in any of my statements to support their conclusion.
I have suffered some supremely vitriolic attacks from Hillary Clinton supporters. But you won't see me calling him names and writing like a sailor. No, that's not my style. I have been there, done that, and just couldn't sleep on the nights when I've done so. I don't like the dark side, and suggest that you should stay away from it, too.
Upon reflection of the current state of politics, the extreme polarization of the body electorate, and the high stakes in this election, I would like to share with you some of the responses I've used to deal with people politely referred to as "trolls", and even some very enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporters who sincerely believe that Hillary is a better candidate in all respects than Bernie Sanders.
I want to share this with you because I believe that we must keep calm and support Bernie Sanders. I also want you to know that Bernie is a man of peace. He does not fight dirty and does not go to the dark side like some of us may have done in debate. He knows, as some of us do, that to have peace, one must be peaceful.
Respond with the facts.
Always respond with facts when presented with information with which you disagree. Find sources that clearly and concisely contradict statements made by Hillary supporters and do so, politely. Remember, there is a chance that they may decide to change their mind based on the facts presented.
Before responding in anger, respond with facts. I've often found that a few well placed links will often quell their anger. For example, here is my favorite link about Hillary's email scandal. It's a blog post written by a person who admired and supported Hillary Clinton. He was sincerely worried about email issue and wrote a very nice, thoughtful analysis of the question, "will Hillary Clinton be indicted for her handling of email communications during her tenure as Secretary of State?"
I politely point out that there is an ongoing criminal investigation and that I wonder aloud how my opponent can support such a candidate. But here is the point about responding with facts and links. Every time I post a response with that link, it becomes indexed by the search engines. Every link to that article brings it up in the rankings. That means more people are going to see it on the first page of their searches. I know this and my opponent, if he or she is savvy enough, knows this, too.
In this struggle, the mainstream media has betrayed us, so we must become the media. We must build our own repository of sources and use them often to build and reinforce an alternative narrative, one that is not supported by the mainstream media, but by the people who deserve to be heard.
Sometimes, the best response is not an answer but a question. I usually like to pose philosophical questions like, "How is it that you can support a candidate that is under criminal investigation?" "After my review of the evidence to support claims of election rigging, I found that it seems to belie the strength of Hillary's campaign. Wouldn't you agree?" "Why would there be any lawsuits over the election at all if you sincerely believe that the election is being carried out in a manner that is above any suspicion?" "How would you feel if this were happening to Hillary instead of Bernie?"
The point of using questions is to refute the notion that I should support Hillary without asking any questions about her character. I don't care if you think that she'd make a great executive who understands how government should be administered. If she doesn't have the courage to run her official business through a government mail server, or the courage to even ask if she could use her own private email server for all government business, she has no business being president. Wouldn't you agree?
Asking questions requires all readers, including opponents to use logic. Hillary's campaign, in many respects defies logic, at least to me. Our job is to show that by asking pointed questions in debate, even when the debate is heated. Stay calm, ask questions. Stay logical.
Be polite, very polite
Even for the most vitriolic Hillary supporters, be very polite. For those supporters prone to profanity, vulgarity and other similar offenses, their domain and their weapon is anger. If they can bring you to the boiling point, they've won. Don't let it happen. Before you type an angry message, wait, let the feeling pass and begin to think coherently about how you would like to respond.
Consider that your opponent sincerely believes that Hillary is a better candidate. Our job in any debate is to counter their statements very politely with facts. If they're angry or even vitriolic, let them be. But respond politely with facts or clear philosophical responses to show why Bernie is the better candidate. We're not here to preach to choir. We're here to educate the public about the virtues of our candidate and the cause of our peaceful revolution.
We cannot bring new adherents or converts around while inciting anger. We can only do so by promoting peace and we do that by living the example. If you want peace, you must, above all else, be peaceful.
Don't hate people, just express your dislike for the things they do
Hate is one of the many facets of the dark side. I've seen evidence of Hillary Clinton supporters wanting us to vote for Hillary Clinton even if we hate her. They seem to encourage hate, hate of Trump, hate of this or that, but they will also encourage us to vote for Hillary even if we hate her.
I don't hate anyone, even Hillary Clinton. I don't know her personally and have no idea how she treats people on a personal level. I do recognize her for being a human being. I think that whatever she chooses to do, she sincerely believes she is doing the right thing. Whatever she chooses to do, her choices may not be right for the rest of us. So I express a dislike for what she does, not for who she is. Hillary can't help being who she is, but she can make better choices that serve the rest of us. When I see her doing that, I may be more inclined to support her.
With Bernie, I sincerely believe he is doing the right thing. He's run 14 successful campaigns for office and he knows what he's doing. He's 74 years old and has seen political winds blow every which way and has still managed to stay in office. I know that in this campaign he is walking a fine line, he has not conceded and he has remained true to his principles. I have never seen him express hate for anyone, ever.
Whatever he does in private is his business and his alone. But what he does in public life, seems in every respect, to be in the public interest, for the public good. He seems to be erring on the side of peace. This is what I want in a candidate for president. This is the character I want to see in the White House.
Respond with logic
Always respond with logic. Hate and anger are not logical responses. They are instinctual responses and they always have fear behind them or underneath them. They are purely emotional responses.
I know from my own experience with hate and anger, that I am not logical when I'm in that place. So avoid those places because they limit my capacity for a logical response. There is a logical response to everything. The point of using logic is to keep the discussion sane and to appeal to the public good.
By responding with logic, we can better see the weaknesses in the arguments of an opponent promoting a weak candidate for president. By responding with logic, we can better point out those weaknesses while promoting the strengths of our candidate.
Don't worry about changing any minds.
Hillary Clinton supporters, at least those whom I have encountered so far, are dead set with Hilary. Don't worry about changing their minds. Just set the record straight and remember the peanut gallery, the people who happen upon your debate in their search for the truth when they use a search engine. Remember the other people you know who might be reading your words on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit and wherever else you might frequent.
A position consistently held over a long period of time will bring more enlightenment than angry or hateful screeds. The strength of the arguments in favor of Bernie Sanders must be presented factually, politely and succinctly, without regard to the outcome. As TS Eliot has noted, "For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business."
Say what you need to say and move on. Everything we say is permanent on the internet. Someone will read it and since we're all adults in this debate, we should leave it to the reader to form his or her own opinions. After I type these words, I let it be.
So be calm and support Bernie Sanders. Respond to hate and anger, and even name calling, with calm recitation of the relevant facts. Be peaceful in all interactions and err on the side of peace. For that is the only way this revolution will be won.