Trump supporters will be scared and angry if they lose. There’s no sense in lording it over them.

In a few days (or, worst case scenario, weeks), Joe Biden will likely become the President-elect. At long last, the callow, deranged narcissist who has cranked the misery index to high hell will, like a miracle, be gone, and a collective shudder of relief will reverberate throughout the land.

As we sort through the wreckage and begin to rebuild, it will be tempting to unleash on our vanquished foes, to make them suffer some fraction of what we’ve suffered throughout these four devastating, crazymaking years. But gloating and scorning a third or more of the country would be dangerously counterproductive.


Take it from this Bernie voter: Show them some respect.

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Left: Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash. Right: Photo by Michael Stokes on Wikimedia Commons.

Accepting defeat is hard. Here’s how you can ease the transition from adversary to ally.

When Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in April, forlorn Bernie supporters were immediately directed to “vote blue no matter who.” As a forlorn Sanderista myself, my reply was, “Give us a minute.”

Three months later, in the midst of the sea of wreckage formerly known as the United States of America, most Sanders supporters would saw off their left arm if it meant we could oust Trump from the White House. …


Yes, because relying on turnout alone is just too risky.

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Source: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

To ensure Biden wins in 2020, Democrats need to mobilize our base. We also need to persuade every persuadable voter we can find.

Many Democrats believe that Biden will win in November by turning out the base and that his campaign doesn’t need to bother trying to persuade swing voters.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because that was Hillary Clinton’s strategy in 2016. “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin,” Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer infamously opined, predicting that Democrats would win not only the White House but the Senate.

Clinton, buoyed by polls that turned out to…


Three amazing examples of transformation and why they worked.

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Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

When people make shockingly — or even mildly — offensive statements, it’s natural to get defensive and either issue a sharp rebuke or beat a hasty retreat. But if you can summon a bit of equanimity — and set aside self-righteous indignation — it’s possible to turn the conversation into a teachable moment. Consider the following real-life scenarios:

Case 1: Virginia, a transgender political activist, knocks on the door of a Miami resident named Gustavo to talk with him about a local transgender bathroom access ordinance. …


Non-defensive communication is the secret to conversations that change hearts and minds

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Source: DonkeyHotey via Flicker

The following is an adapted excerpt from the new book, Beyond Contempt: How Liberals Can Communicate Across the Great Divide, by Erica Etelson.

Political discourse between liberals and conservatives typically goes from bad to worse in short order. Each party approaches the arena armed with selective facts and assumptions concerning their opponent’s mindset. Within moments, the amygdala, the brain’s fear center, activates and issues a fight-or-flight command. Both parties are now on the defensive, issuing sharp-edged retorts or retreating into silent rage and disgust. A wall goes up, and hope of productive dialogue is extinguished.

Vitriol and snide superiority rocket-launch…


When my son was little, we liked to go see a family variety show that performed around town. One afternoon, I sat at my computer to check the performance schedule. I googled “The Buddy Club,” and, a moment later, was up to my eyeballs in hairy, erect penises. I fumbled to close the browser while checking over my shoulder to see if my three-year old had witnessed the display. (He hadn’t).

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That incident came to mind years later, during a parent meeting of my son’s Jewish youth group, when a youth mentor warned us of the easy availability and extremity…


In the wake of the election, I’ve made two important discoveries. One is that potato chips dipped in chocolate sauce make for an effective anti-depressant. The other is that the Democratic Party is gearing up to keep on losing.

Left-liberal commentators keep reassuring us that, by 2020, Trump’s working class voters will realize they’ve been conned and will boot the Charlatan-in-Chief out, assuming he hasn’t already been impeached. This, I believe, is a dangerously flawed assumption that, if accepted, will prevent the Democrats from doing what must be done to take back the government.

That the GOP will undermine the…


How rewards and praise hurt students

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One afternoon, my son came home from school and unpacked three certificates of academic achievement printed out on cheerful purple and orange cardstock. He seemed mildly pleased with his awards, but something was bothering him: Every student in his class had received an award, except for one, a boy whose troubled behavior I had already heard much about. While all 27 students bounded outside for a celebratory group pic, this boy stayed alone inside the classroom to contemplate his disgrace.

I tried to imagine how this child must have felt — the humiliation, the ostracization, the shame. Would he, I…


(This article originally appeared on Alternet on 9/18/16).

The only way to talk someone out of voting for Trump is to stop trying to talk them out of voting for Trump. To all my fellow progressives who’ve been busily browbeating supporters of this dangerous demagogue, you’re invited to become an early adopter of a far more rewarding, non-adversarial approach called “Powerful Non-Defensive Communication.”

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Listening before speaking is crucial

According to most commentators, the prototypical Trump supporter is an uneducated, narrow-minded bigot with legitimate grievances against the faltering economy that Trump has skillfully alchemized into violent rage toward non-whites, Muslims and successful women. The Trump voter…


As an outspoken, Clinton-resistant Bernie supporter, I’ve been feeling the pressure to get behind Clinton like a knife in my forehead. Since the California primary, I’ve posted my share of contradictory, frenzied Facebook missives, all the while knowing in my heart what I will do on Election Day and why.

This is the story behind my belabored, fatalistic decision to vote for Hillary Clinton*. It’s a story within a story within a story that begins in 1976. At the age of nine, I read Anne Frank’s diary, and my world fell to pieces. …

Erica Etelson

Writer, voting rights activist, mutual aid organizer. Author of Beyond Contempt: How Liberals Can Communicate Across the Great Divide (New Society 2019).

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