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Let’s talk about our rights

In honor of America’s 242nd birthday tomorrow, we’d like to give the gift that keeps on giving – a lesson in how to talk about our rights so we persuade rather than polarize.

For us political nerds who live in D.C. and work with the federal government, or those who live in real America and work with state and local governments, it brings us great joy to name drop “Amendments,” the “Constitution,” and various bill numbers coming up for a vote.

But if you want people to understand the argument and join your cause, you have to appeal to that basic human instinct in all of us – protecting our rights.

Here are a few suggestions about how to name drop “rights” into every conversation and maintain common ground.

#1 – Amendments

Play it safe and define the amendments to include talk of rights. For example, instead of “First Amendment” or “Second Amendment,” say “the right to free speech” or “the right to protect myself.”

Doing so equalizes the playing field for those who can’t name the amendments and saves you the time and effort to explain.

#2 – Constitution

Sure, it’s a founding document and critical to the endurance of this great nation (nbd), but some think the Constitution is outdated and does not apply. Choose the path of least resistance (and greatest persuasion) by talking about “rights” instead of the “Constitution.”

#3 – Economic Freedom

Most people probably agree that economic freedom is a good thing. But in the interest of not wasting time to define a wonky term or two, bring it back to rights. Instead of “economic freedom,” say “we all have the right to do business with whom we choose.”

There’s a time and place to name drop and defend “Amendments,” the “Constitution,” and wonky terms like “Economic Freedom.” But if you need to reach a broad audience, talk in terms people understand for a cause they believe in – protecting our rights.

TUESDAY TIP: A blueprint for hostile questions

Last week marked a stunning moment in America as we watched Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Senators repeatedly attack Russ Vought, the administration’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), not on his qualifications for the job but on his personal faith.

Irate that Vought stood by his Christian beliefs, Sanders concluded his line of questioning by stating: “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.”

Though he didn’t come out and say it, Sanders seemed to suggest one’s faith makes him or her unfit to serve public office. (Have you even read the Constitution?! Please see the First Amendment.)

The exchange between several U.S. Senators and a professing Christian was shocking, but there is good news. Vought gave us a blueprint for how to respond to hostile questions – faith-based or otherwise.

On this Tip Tuesday, let’s analyze Vought’s stellar performance:

 

He did two very important things: 1) he stated what he is, not what he’s not and 2) he never repeated accusations.

 

By only stating what he is and not repeating accusations, Vought successfully stood his ground and won the exchange. He wasn’t defensive, he was confident. And he won the sympathy of the viewing audience.

Now, go and do likewise.

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