(The following is not official GOP guidance, but rather my ideas on handling some difficult situations)
Many Republicans fear Democrat protesters. It’s understandable. Organized and militant, these bullies follow a detailed, national plan (here’s their playbook), disrupting town hall meetings and other venues. Thus, exhausted Republicans see mobs shouting. They see human blockades. They see demonstrations on TV, overwhelmed blogs, and their own frightened supporters losing hope.
But I see something else, which is…
Yes, I see great opportunity! Rampaging riots, shrieking college students, spoiled Hollywood and sports icons sermonizing on TV—these Trump haters are ideal bad guys, provided we follow two simple rules:
1) Don’t make them look good. 2) Do make ourselves look good.
So how do we manage this? It depends on the setting.
Setting 1: Town Hall Meetings
If protesters flood a meeting, I’d follow these steps:
1. Don’t make them into martyrs. Protesters thrive on victimhood, so silencing them only empowers them. Even if they must be removed, I wouldn’t rush it—I’d give them a few moments to be bad guys. Letting them interrupt everyone’s good time, I’d be the good guy by restoring that good time.
For many of us, this feels unnatural, right? We’re used to avoiding vicious people, not using them as props. But hey, when opportunity knocks, I answer the door.
2. Don’t run from them. When we run, we look guilty—making them look right for confronting us. Every protester dreams of causing Conservatives to duck and run, as this provides awesome video footage. So, unless there is a threat of violence, I would avoid running out.
3. Don’t respond with anger or frustration: Again, this only rewards them with a feeling of accomplishment. So I prefer exuding confidence, enjoying their display.
Then, before long, I’d use their aggression against them:
4. Challenge their tactics: If they’re rowdy, I’d calmly say the following words until they quiet down: “I see you have the courage to speak. Do you also have the courage to listen?”
Notice how this takes the wind from their sails. Either they stop shouting, or become greater villains for continuing. Regardless, I win. To pile on a bit, I’d say something like this:
“We’ve all spent 8 years hearing your side and watching it enacted. Can you spend a few minutes hearing my ideas uninterrupted?”
Again, this either diffuses or embarrasses them. Win-win.
5. Be ready for Trump questions: One common protester strategy is asking whether we support every action by President Trump. Now, I gladly support our President, but keep in mind these people are specifically asking questions for which they’ve designed damaging spin.
Hence, they have two goals: Either LINK me to Trump (to demonize us both with spin), or BREAK me from Trump (making me a “dissenting Republican”). One way, I lose swing voters, the other way, I lose my base. It’s a classic win-win for the Left, which is why they love the tactic.
So what would I do? That’s easy: Embarrass the questioner. I’d respond thusly:
“I’m a Trump voter, not a Trump lawyer. I think he’s doing good things, but it’s not my job to defend every detail. Want to know where I stand? Then look at MY proposals.”
Notice how this shines a spotlight on the questioner. It shames their tactic. At this point, if I have sharp ideas to offer on this topic, I do so. Having moved the talk from Trump, I complete my victory by providing good, Conservative messaging.
Another thing they’ll try is pulling a Trump quote out of context, asking what we think of it. Again, I’d shame them:
“I don’t know the context of your quote, but our President says thousands of things. Should we examine them all in context tonight, or should we discuss ideas—like we’re at a Town Hall?”
6. If they are disruptive or escorted out, I’d briefly talk about them: Here are some easy lines:
“Some people shout so we’ll hear their side. I discuss so we hear both sides.”
“We saw their ideas in action for 8 years, and they lost. Now, they want to block you from seeing my ideas in action. What does that tell you?”
Setting 2: Protesters on TV
A more common setting is when we see protests or leftist celebrities on TV—perhaps while watching in the break room at work, or in other social settings. For the most part, I’d avoid political discussions at these times. But if the mood is right, I might say something like this:
(Regarding celebrities) “You know, these people were made famous by their whole audience. Why insult half of it?”
“So, they’re shouting in the streets because they think Trump is unhinged?”
“These people think Trump lacks the ‘temperament’ to lead us. Hmmmm…”
Setting 3: When Politics Comes Up
The best opportunity to be good guys is when political topics arise. Here are a couple pointers:
1. First and foremost, listen. Just think how you feel when some guy keeps pressing his point. As he “gets his word in,” you resent his pushiness.
But when someone really listens to you, it sticks in your memory. He honors you. He respects you. He waits for you to ask his opinion, then shares briefly—valuing your time. Best of all, if you don’t ask, he says little. Why? Because he knows you have reasons for not asking.
Respect sells, folks…better than any talking point. Sure, gushing our logic may win initial “converts,” but they’ll resent our pushiness. The moment they hear another view, they’ll gladly change sides—because deep down, everyone wants pushy people to be wrong.
So it’s best to hear people before trying to convert them. The irony? The more we listen, the more completely they convert.
2. When you do speak, don’t lead with insults or lectures (Conservatives rarely do, by the way), but lead with a sales pitch. In those first few seconds, put their needs first. Some examples are:
Environmentalism: “I want the cleanest environment you can afford to enjoy.”
Energy: “I like energy policy that serves the most Americans, not rewards the most activists.”
Guns: “I support gun rights for one reason: I want you and your family to be as safe as possible.”
Abortion: “I’m Pro-Life, but I like the reason you’re Pro-Choice. You don’t want the government telling you what to do with your body. I agree.”
By leading with demands (“Hands off my gun”) or lectures (“Let me tell you when the unborn feel pain”), we’re telling the truth—but creating no interest in that truth. In fact, we’re killing interest, since demands make listeners feel bad, and lectures make them feel dumb. No one wants to feel bad or dumb, so they tune us out.
That’s why we lead with a sales pitch, then share truth if they show interest.
Again, look at my four examples. Notice how they create interest? That’s the beauty of a sales pitch. In mere seconds, I go from villain to good guy—from someone no one wants to hear to someone creating interest—and this, by the way, makes protesters look worse than ever.
So listen, then put their needs first with your sales pitch. With less effort, you’ll make more impact, and fewer people will fear political discussions around you. That’s the benefit of being a good guy.
Protesters are everywhere these days. They stalk us online. They flood our town halls. They dominate TV screens like mobs of enraged inmates who went off their meds.
These lunatics want to be bad guys. Let them. They want to be bullies. Expose them. Toy with their strategy, embarrass their pettiness, and above all, let them annoy more voters…
…into our waiting arms.
Just remember, in this age of nasty protesters, we must follow two simple rules: 1) Don’t make them look good. 2) Do make ourselves look good.
That’s easy to do, because we are good. Oh yes, folks, I see great opportunity. Great opportunity indeed.