Dear Mrs. Right,
I am a young, educated conservative that is deeply involved in the political process. Each month when I go to my local Young Republicans meeting, I feel engaged but also concerned. Although we agree on many things, the majority of my colleagues subscribe to the dogma that is preached from the national party. I, however, have different views on social policies. After the meetings when we discuss these ideas, conversation tends to become heated against my stance on X, Y, or Z. It has gotten to the point where I am considering not going anymore. What should I do?
Dear Red Sheep,
I’ve been you. Whatever you do, do not stop going just because you are on the outside of the echo chamber.
The purpose of the group’s existence and meetings is to strengthen and grow the movement, right? And just like a muscle, some resistance and is needed for health and resilience before going out into the arena that is public America. So, your contrariness is justified.
While some members–even leadership–may have lost site of the group’s purpose, make yourself a leader by reminding them of it.
As is often the case, tone and delivery will determine whether your message is received properly. If you have a “reputation” amongst the group, reach out to the next meeting’s agenda-setter in private, and ask for a few minutes of stage time at the next meeting. Say you fear you may have inadvertently caused discord in the informal discussions, and that you would like to clear the air with the club in a thoughtful, well-planned environment, with a facilitated discussion. The truth may be that you were simply misunderstood and want credit for your smarts, but serving them instead of yourself is both morally right and way more likely to get you what you’re asking for. Ask someone reasonable to “referee” the discussion for you (and then actually let them do so).
This may all feel like an overreaction and like you are admitting to a crime worse than anything you really did, and that’s exactly what it is. People love that. It makes them realize you are responsible and super self-aware because you take a minor problem so seriously, and then they will trust and follow you. Think of how every hiring manager says they need someone “detail-oriented”–the small things matter, and are usually the things that are in your control and that you can thus be constantly leveraging to your advantage.
You have now created time to plan and then speak your general argument without interruption. Hooray! Wow them with your superior logic. Talk about how historical trends of progressivism support your predictions. Talk about how moral legislation is diametrically opposed to the conservative principle of limited government. Talk about how, principles aside, Republicans need votes from social moderates to stay viable.
I truly believe hitting the reset button like this, and getting your message out in an articulate, nonemotional way, will win you converts (or at least friends). Not everyone in the group may have known you or what you were about, but you showed courage and original insight. So get ready to run for Chair and then continue that influence.