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The way political commentators in the U.S., including some comedians, have reprimanded supporters of Bernie Sanders for not falling in line behind Hilary Clinton is a valuable lesson in how not to talk to angry people.
Sarah Silverman told them they're being ridiculous, while Seth Myers told them they "have to be quiet now." This is as strategically smart as beginning a fundraising email "Dear Peasant." These parental scoldings are guaranteed to backfire because they ignore why people don't like Hilary. If you want to convince people to vote for a lesser evil, you can't pretend that the lesser evil isn't evil.
Talking down to adults with legitimate grievances like they're spoiled children will convince none of them. It barely even works on actual children. If I wanted a Bernie Sanders supporter to vote for Hilary Clinton, I would say: "You understandably see Hilary as a warmongering, corrupt, corporate shill cynically cloaking empire in feminism, BUT, could you please vote for her anyway so we don't die in a nuclear holocaust because Vladimir Putin beat President Trump at Words with Friends?"
The British media mocked Brexit supporters as morons. It backfired. Most of the U.S. media mocks Trump supporters as morons. It's backfiring. Doing the same for Bernie supporters will backfire. I get that labeling segments of voters as idiots is a great ego boost, it makes you feel superior and smart. But if you're trying to actually influence people you need to ask what's more important: feeling smart, or being smart?
This video originally appeared on The Toronto Star.
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