“Liberals are latte-sipping, PC, naive, always playing the victim, intolerant of other views and most of all, snowflakes.”
All common stereotypes of liberals. When I was an atheist, I used to believe lots of stereotypes about Christians… until I became one. I think what I learned is very valuable information to be used to help Democrats overcome the stereotypes that are coming at them all the time from the right.
How to Overcome Stereotypes
As an atheist I had my own list of stereotypes of Christians too. “Stupid, naive, judgmental hypocrites who hate science and reason… and for good reason, because they have been disproven by them.” I used to tell Christians to their face that I thought they were judgmental and arrogant. How could someone so convinced change their mind? Seems impossible right? No. And if it wasn’t impossible for me who was so convinced to change my mind it isn’t impossible for Republicans or moderates to change their mind about liberals.
1. Be the opposite to the stereotype
Much to my surprise I kept running into data that seemed to disprove the stereotype I had of Christians. I found one of the nicest people I knew, one of the least hypocritical people I knew, prayed.
That threw a wrench into my stereotype.
I also came across many intelligent Christians who rather than argued against science, argued with science. Who didn’t have a problem with evolution, who didn’t make poor arguments for God based on it, but who found science and reason as compatible and enriching in their faith. I found some of the smartest people I could imagine were actually Christians.
Whoa. Literally it kind of blew my mind. Something was really off with my stereotype.
How Democrats can use this
Don’t be the stereotype. Don’t get easily offended, don’t be afraid to laugh at an off color joke once and awhile, invite other views, even ones that offend you for an open debate, and break liberal stereotypes in other ways you can.
2. Be kind, not defensive
If you get defensive you look weak. And for good reason, you probably are. Insecurity makes people defensive. I remember as I started to get interested in faith I was reading the Gnostic Gospels… usually considered heretical. When I mentioned this to a pastor he didn’t judge me but said he thought while everything in there wasn’t true, there probably were some cool things in there picked from the regular Gospels.
Rather than getting defensive this pastor wasn’t afraid of my views. He was confident enough of the truth of his own views to let the facts decide who came out on top. This again broke the stereotype I had of Christians and led me closer to changing my view and becoming one myself.
How Democrats can use this
Rather than playing into the stereotype of an easily offended liberal who needs a safe space, trust that you are in the right. Have the faith to peacefully argue the facts with offensive people. In the end you will come across looking good and they will come across looking like an oaf. The alt-right thrives on offending liberals. If you stop being offended and don’t let yourself be tricked into silencing them you look stronger, and they lose their gimmick.
3. Be willing to change
Even among the craziest views there can be things they are right about. As the great Christian Philosopher and Mathemetician Blaise Pascal wrote,
“When we wish to correct with advantage, and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false.”
How Democrats can use this
Usually false views are hard to give up on because the people holding onto them have some grain of truth. For example, it probably is true that our culture has become too PC. But that in no way justifies electing Trump or the alt-right. However, people confuse the two.
When you say: “Trump should never have been elected,”
They hear: “our culture isn’t too PC.”
They are latching onto something that is probably true, that our culture is a bit too PC, and using it to justify Trump, which it does not. However, if you just admit to them that our culture is maybe a little to PC, this anchor they use to hold their Trump belief is destroyed.
In my own example I thought all Christians didn’t believe in evolution. However, what I found after I took my head out of Richard Dawkins’ books and met more Christians in real life, was that many Christians willing to admit the truth of evolution to me.
I think also it helps to find the purpose of the Bible not as to be a book of rules but rather a guide which though inspired by God, came through specific people and personalities. It was actually the legalistic attempt by other Christians to be faithful to God that kept me from faith.
Likewise Democrats shouldn’t be afraid of people who challenge them or differ with them on a few views, but should accept them and bring them into the fold, realizing that sometimes they might be right. And even when they are wrong the proper way to deal with them isn’t to silence them but to debate their case on the merits.
Stereotypes can be overcome. They can also be reinforced. The wise person makes an intentional effort to overcome them. Important things don’t often come easy, and if the democrats are going to stop Trump they have to try to overcome these stereotypes. I’ve seen how it can be done as my stereotypes about Christianity were broken.
For more on my story with faith check out this article.
For more of our political articles check out this page.