Spitfire Strategies

Three Ways to Take Advantage of “Political Headaches”

Kristen Grimm

By Kristen Grimm
President

Today, I woke up to the news that President Donald Trump had created “political headaches for Republicans,” and my immediate response was yippee. No, not because I am mean. I, for one, love when something unanticipated opens up a big fat opportunity – one I couldn’t create no matter how hard I tried. For anyone trying to bridge the political divides and encourage collaboration across the aisle, “political headache” is code for “now is your chance.”

Science tells us that attitude change is possible when partisanship is weak and social identities are conflicted. We saw this when Trump tweeted about a transgender ban. Because notable Republicans and military leaders broke with Trump and said that the ban was a bad idea, they depolarized the issue (it wasn’t Republicans vs. Democrats) and made people wonder if they were going to follow Trump or Senate leaders with national security credibility.

Now we see another opportunity with off-shore drilling. Republicans who said they were supportive of drilling are now facing drilling right off their coast. This isn’t popular with constituents. In an election year where popularity is really going to matter, they may have to rethink when and where we should drill. Same thing with a crackdown on marijuana. Gallup reports that 64 percent favor legalizing marijuana (including a majority of Republicans).

These types of political headaches offer three important opportunities for nimble organizations:

  1. Recruit new allies. People’s self-interest has been triggered and now is the time to build large-tent coalitions that represent the popular view. Begin tracking supportive statements that give you an in to set up meetings and start finding common ground.
  2. Shape the discourse. Suddenly legalizing marijuana isn’t just about drug use. It is about states’ rights. This moment offers a chance to shape how this debate unfolds. The grounds it plays out on will decide which side wins.
  3. Reinforce the shifting norm. These types of debates give us a chance to showcase what the majority of the public thinks about an issue, which will suggest to people who haven’t formulated an opinion where they likely stand. Most people like to stand with the majority. This is especially true when we have changing social norms, like decriminalization and a preference for energy sources.

 

“This has been a tremendous eye opener. It shows us how to pull the aspects of communications skills, from the message, to the audience. It forced us to identify our strengths and our weaknesses in an effort to become more strategic in how we prepare our messages and communicate them.”

- Training Participant

Building Movements Through Art, Communication and Advocacy

Claire de Leon

By Claire de Leon
Director

Power is invisible. That’s part of what makes it tricky to dismantle. Audre Lorde asks us, “What are the words you do not yet have?” – a rallying cry to move from silence to speaking the truth of our experiences. For me, art across time and mediums has played a… (read more)

Many of your Black co-workers and friends are not okay right now: Here’s what you can do

Inga Skippings

By Inga Skippings
Chief Engagement Officer

Many of my white friends and colleagues reached out over the past week to check in on me. They saw George Floyd die pinned beneath Minneapolis police officers’ knees and read how the Louisville police used a no-knock warrant to execute Breonna Taylor. They saw Ahmaud Arbery’s killers arrested only… (read more)

In a Time of Scarcity, We Need Narratives of Abundance

Caroline Gasparini

By Caroline Gasparini
Account Coordinator

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, people are feeling a lot of emotions right now, all at once. There is uncertainty in our day-to-day lives, concern over the future and fear for the health, safety and livelihood of our families, friends, neighbors and selves. It’s easy to become overwhelmed… (read more)

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