Tuesday, September 13, 2016

In which I convince Primo that talking about his nephew and about his sister and their educational challenges would actually help him

Primo's big issue for this campaign - the thing that motivated him to run - is public education. There is stuff going on here and I suspect everywhere in the US about schools.

I grew up on military bases, attending, for the most part, the Department of Defense schools, which are among the best schools in the - hmm - I can't say US, because many of the schools are outside of the US - the best schools for American students in the world. Test scores for DoD schools are always pretty high. Education just isn't an issue on military bases and for military dependents.

Primo also went to good schools, but not because he went to DoD schools. He went to good schools because his parents knew how to use the system to their advantage.

I have no problem with their doing that. They bought a house in a neighborhood in a better school district and when that wasn't enough, sued the district to get Primo in special classes. (Primo graduated from high school when he was 15.)

Again - I have no problem with parents advocating for their children.

I do have a problem with people who don't think that parents who can't afford to buy a house in a good district or don't know how to sue shouldn't have options.

Just because you are stuck living in a crummy school district, you shouldn't have no choices.

Although Primo and I agree that children have the right to a good education, we disagree on some of the mechanics of all this. Primo thinks we should improve the public schools, which of course we should, but I maintain that in the meantime, the true function of public education is that every child be educated, period.

But I don't want to get into all that.

So his big issue is education and who gets to go to good schools and who doesn't.

Primo wants to talk about the Big Ideas and the Theories and the To-Be state.

We were talking about Ted'sSon, who is mentally disabled and has required special education that has come about because Ted and his wife sued the district.

"The district was not equipped to handle Ted'sSon," Primo says. "That's not right."

"Nope," I said. "Why don't you mention that when you are talking to people?"

"Because it's too personal!" he said. "I can't talk about that kind of thing!"

"Of course you can," I answered.

"Nobody wants to hear that kind of thing," he said.

"Yes, they do!" I said. "What nobody wants to hear about is dry policy. Nobody wants to hear about abstract theory. They don't care about your Big Ideas. They want to know that you care about their kids and what happens to them. They want to know why you would even care about education - we don't have kids, so you can't talk about that. People need to know that you understand their struggles and want to help them. They don't care that you care about this stuff in the abstract."

He thought for a minute. Shook his head.

"Trust me. I am in marketing. This is what I do all day at work - try to figure out how to get people to accept change and new ideas. If you can't connect personally to someone, you are not going to get anything done."

He frowned slightly.

I continued. "Without thinking of any of the other things about them, think about how it felt when you met Bill Clinton and then met Obama right after him. Bill looked you in the eye and paid attention to you. He made you feel like you mattered, even though we all know that's just his thing."

"Obama was looking over your shoulder for someone more important."

"People want to feel like they matter. And if you share something personal about yourself that relates to the struggles they face, that is way more important that explaining a policy to them."

He nodded. He smiled. He got it. He got it.

"You're good at this!" he said.

"I know," I said.


  1. And, you are right. We normal voters whan to know WHY Primo cares about education; we want to relate to him and understand what his connection is .. good advice.

  2. Yes yes yes! Make it personal, I want to know why you care. Everyone can say they give a crap about what is important to me but I want to hear why. Especially since you don't have kids and education is so important to you...show me why you want to make these changes; don't just tell me.

  3. Thanks, guys! I reminded Primo about this conversation and read him your comments last night. (There is a lag time in my posts.) He still said, "But it's too personal!" but I think your comments are changing his mind. He really, really, really likes talking about policy and theory, which is fine in front of the right audience, but most of us DO NOT WANT TO HEAR THAT CRAP. Just tell me how you are going to fix the problem that I have that you understand.

  4. I do want to read or hear about a candidate's policy positions in great detail, but I am probably more like Primo than the average voter. However, even for me, if I'm given a choice of two candidates with great policies and one of them gives a bit of background about how important that policy is to them personally, then I'll strongly prefer that candidate on that issue, because I know they will not only present good policy proposals, but they will *fight for them*!

  5. He needs the "gotcha" lead in to his discussion of policy & specifics. He needs to get the audience/voters on his side first with the emotional appeal and then move on to logic. I don't like it always, but apparently it works.....

  6. EVERYBODY wants to hear the personal story first (well, 95% of people). If you can tell the story well, you'll hook the listeners so they will care about you.

  7. and anyway, it's about time Ted served a useful purpose.

  8. People want to know why something is important to Primo. They want to be sure he isn't just spouting idealistic promises to win votes, but might give up on those policies if they become 'too hard'.
    Here in Australia there have been several people who ran (and were subsequently elected) based on headlineing commitments to certain issues who then drastically watered down or changed those policies once they gained office when the realities of an aggressive opposite party or a divisive cabinet pushed back.


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