The Perils of Low-Information Voters and Garbage People – A Raucous Rooster Public Service Announcement

Campaign 2020 – Vote Trump Out

Petaluma, Sonoma County, California

This message is addressed to Biden Harris voters, but may be of interest to anyone with a stake in the November 3, 2020 election.

First, thank you so much for committing to vote Biden Harris! That is huge! I have never seen so many people stand up and commit to telling an occupant of the White House to get lost. We are well-positioned to flush that turd, hopefully sending him off to a lifetime of incarceration, but if not, certainly perpetual discomfort for the man is in order, at a minimum.

It’s no exaggeration to suggest this may be the most consequential presidential election we’ve faced as a nation, but you’re likely well aware of that, and since the level of hysteria over the end of life as we know it, should Trump win, is already intolerable, we won’t add to the lunacy. For-profit corporate media has showered billions of dollars worth of unwarranted attention upon Donald Trump since 2015 already. They turned godawful reality television of The Apprentice into Forced To Watch Him Destroy the USA television. No need to give him any more of your time than absolutely necessary now. We need this time to kick his ass at the ballot box and clean up his messes. 

It is safe to say that a Trump win would be disastrous, and ruinously painful first for those who can least afford it. It would make the work of those of us seeking to build a sustainable and just peace immeasurably more difficult. 

Although some may find it a heavy lift to sing the praises of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the fact of the matter is, regardless of what you think of them, they at least promise the possibility of rising to the occasion and becoming the leaders we need at a time of unprecedented crises competing for our time and continuous attention. 

In the spirit that every vote matters, and that an imperative over the seven weeks between now and election day is to round up enough of those votes to overcome the systematic campaign of voter disenfranchisement and election delegitimization currently being led by those across the nation who are solely interested in preserving their power, the Raucous Rooster offers a suggestion.

Asking for Votes – Accentuate the Positive, Skip the Insults 

It is commonly considered morally wrong to insult people. This may seem an obvious truism to many of you. defines ‘insult’ thusly: Noun. A rude expression intended to offend or hurt. I’m not sure I know anyone who finds enduring rude expressions intended to offend or hurt enjoyable. 

Furthermore, I suggest that insulting people while asking for their vote for Biden Harris is not only wrong – generally agreed to be unacceptable to virtually all of us – it may very well be counterproductive. It seems plausible, perhaps even likely, that insulting someone while asking for their vote may actually lead them to vote against you. I have not done a great deal of campaigning for votes, but I have done a little bit here and there every decade or so, since walking door to door for Jay Rockefeller for WVA governor in 1976. I’m confident my big brother would have mentioned, or I would have noticed at some point, if insulting people for their votes were a productive approach to vote-gathering.  

Believe it or not, comments like “Holy crap your fucked up vote in 2016 really screwed us over. Don’t do that again. Vote Biden Harris!” are unlikely to be as effective as they might have been without the opening insult. Sometimes insults elicit counter-insults in response, since people don’t like to be insulted, and then your average campaigner inclined to leading with insults may encounter a problem. 

As Election Day grows ever closer and the racist, very stable genius, and master of disaster in the White House continues to push his terrified opponents over the edge into periodic fits of outrage and aghastitude, it has become increasingly common to see exhortations to undecided and/or potentially friendly voters that follow this highly undesirable pattern. Social media platforms are overflowing with them.

Please stop.

Often this seems to come from folks still suffering a form of post traumatic stress disorder over the 2016 election result. Some seem unaware that the result remains for them an untreated, much less healing (in process) or healed (in the past) wound. 

The other day it was a prominent local publisher, writing on Facebook in a public conversation that was clearly composed of a mixture of Biden voters, Berners and other progressives, with at least a dozen others whose politics were less easily discernible. The subject of the post was a simple comment from the publisher about the need for a big turnout in swing states that went for Trump in 2016.

Then the publisher – a self-described progressive and Elizabeth Warren supporter – wrote, quite unexpectedly, from this reader’s perspective: “It is because many of Bernie’s followers are rabid “Bernie or nobody” thinkers, if you can even call them thinkers.”

Unsurprisingly, that did not sit well with the Bernie folks in the conversation, but the writer appeared unaware of even the possibility of offense from the comment. 

Soon another public conversation popped up between a world-renowned media analyst and a local food writer that was remarkably similar. While suggesting the analyst should avoid any semblance of criticism of Biden Harris, and emphasizing the value of every single vote, the writer admonished said analyst, “You are smart enough to know a lot of the problems we have with a low-information voting populace. Give them any reason to doubt a candidate and it is very easy for them to simply not vote or to believe the lies of the other side.” [Emphasis added – RR]

The question which arose for me was, did the writer also believe said “low-information voters” were illiterate and/or not on Facebook to read such insults? Such comments amongst otherwise well-intentioned Biden Harris voters have become so common as to be perceived as absolutely normal and acceptable. Yet the ask – please vote Biden Harris – would be so much simpler and likely more effective if it were delivered without the insult. Besides, there remain a great many people awaiting the assumption by former Clinton supporters of some degree of responsibility for those 2016 results. To many of us, the Democratic party showed an extraordinary adeptness at one of its least desirable skills in choosing a candidate capable of losing to Donald J. Trump. 

I’m certain you can find some good things to say about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, so let’s lead with that.

Garbage People

Humans do not dehumanize themselves by their sometimes horrific actions, and certainly cannot do so simply by their use of verbal insults aimed at dehumanizing others, no matter how appalling the insults. 

The only reason why one would attempt to dehumanize another is for the purpose of treating that person as less-than-human. 

So don’t do it. 

Given our current state of affairs, it was perfectly understandable that a protest would pop up in support of Joanna Paun and Kinyatta Reynolds, the sole African-American staffers of St. Vincent de Paul High School who were informed that their positions with the school had been terminated at the end of July. There was an outpouring of community support for the pair and a Black Lives Matter demonstration was organized on their behalf at the St. Vincent de Paul church. 

With Petaluma and its vicinity having long been a haven for the North Bay’s right wing, reactionary types, a counter-protest quickly developed because they heard about the Black Lives Matter protest. Some counter protesters were determined to inform supporters of Paul and Reynolds that Blue Lives Matter, and apparently said a bunch of other highly derogatory and provocative things in the process.

It was at this point, later on social media, that I read a smart local with whom I’m familiar refer to the right wing counter protesters as ‘garbage people’. Called on it, he thanked me for the suggestion that dehumanizing others was a bad idea at best, but no, the counter protesters had dehumanized themselves with the insulting, hostile words they hurled at Paul/Reynolds supporters. Upon further contemplation, he concluded that, having been self-dehumanized through their own use of grotesque and offensive language, the right wing counter protesters were in fact garbage people. Period.

I cringed at the thought of how a parent might teach a child what constituted a human worth being, as opposed to a human worth garbage.

Please stop.

The U.S. and much of the world are enduring a remarkable wave of crap hitting the fan right now. This is no time to be giving in so readily to our basest fears and assumptions regarding our fellow homo sapiens.  Dehumanizing others can lead to nothing good. We frequently see people around us these days doing and saying appalling things to each other. We can choose to perpetuate that behavior, or we can speak up, speak out, and choose to act differently. Like never before, these times call for us all to rise to stretch a little further than ever to meet the challenges ahead, to rise to the occasion and vote Trump out on November 3 of course. 

Here’s a parting message on the subject of Voting Trump Out from Noam Chomsky to swing state voters.

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