Vote remain – winning the home front

by | Jun 15, 2016


I’ve been posting a ton of stuff in favour of remaining in the EU on Facebook and Twitter in recent weeks. So have most of us, given that we’re young(ish) and young people overwhelmingly want to stay.
 
But I’ve also been increasingly realising that actually, we’re kind of just talking to ourselves here. Sure, we need to do everything we can on pushing up young people’s turnout on the day. But I also think there’s something crucial we can to do to win over people poised to vote leave.
 
I think that in this last week or so of campaigning, all of us need to do *everything* we can to win over our parents, grandparents, and their friends.
 
My hunch is we won’t do this through facts, as persuasive as I find the economic evidence. Our elders are overwhelmingly going to vote on values and identity, and while the Remain campaign has totally failed to engage them at this level, we absolutely can: as their sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters, how could we fail to? 
 
We can ask them – very respectfully, at all costs avoiding a dinner table row – if they’d be willing to consider voting remain even if their personal views tend the other way. Not for them, but for us.
 
Because throughout our childhoods they put us before them, and now we can say that we’re asking them to do it one more time, for our futures and for those of our kids.
 
Because this is a vote about the long term future, and because it’s irrevocable if we leave. And because this is the kind of decision that needs to be made not just on personal self-interest, but on the basis of interests of whole families, across generations.
 
Our politicians can’t make these kinds of argument (or if they do, they’re all too easily tuned out). But we can – in the process, making a small but real contribution to the kind of positive sum politics that we all actually want.
 
So let’s spend the last week reaching out beyond our social media echo-chambers of the like-minded, and maybe we can have the kind of debate at family level that our leaders have so manifestly failed to have at national level. Maybe we can cook them dinner first and them ask them over dessert. Maybe we can do it in handwritten letters like the thank-you letters they used to nudge us to write when we were 9 years old. Maybe we could make even them a card like we used to do when we were 4 (or – real Machiavelli coming out here – get our kids to do it for us). But let’s not miss this trick.

Author

  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.


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