by Ian Tingen
This TPM piece provides great practice for thinking about how to talk to others.
First, let’s consider how people might react to this story as written. Scanning the comments, we can see lots of people going straight to a moral crusade: “His poor child!”, “Evil bastard!”, “Callous father!” – that sort of thing. You might feel that way too. Even if you do – that response is not likely to carry a conversation, and even less likely to carry any influence.
So what might? To find the answer, we have to get past the clickbait, past the presentation designed to elicit shares and shaming. To get it right, we need to find out what matters to this guy – or at least what he’s predicating his argument on.
As this guy’s words are represented, the key is here: “We have to be responsible, or have a part of the responsibility for what’s going on,” he said, while advocating for health savings accounts, a common GOP proposal.
Responsibility. That’s what this guy is talking about. Check out him doing his version of due diligence when assessing his son’s arm. (Yes, this means discarding any gut reaction to ‘how horrible!’. You have to take people as they see themselves, not as you see them.) He’s talking about responsibility – people need to be accountable for actions.
Thus, whatever we decide to talk about, it would be good to frame it in terms of responsibility. Remember: this frame has to be genuine – it can’t just be a hollow attempt at manipulation. In order to be a real conversation, the response MUST BE GENUINE.
So, what angles could be taken with responsibility – or better, personal responsibility? Shooting from the hip:
1) Responsibility as a parent means ensuring that the system in place can provide the best access to healthcare for kids.
2) It’s individually responsible to defer judgment to a professional – to know where the limits of knowledge are. / It’s irresponsible to assume that I know more than someone with X years of medical experience.
Note that neither of these are perfect arguments, but they at least can you talking in the same terms. Either way – pay attention to what matters to your conversation partner.