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Kathleen Reardon Headshot

What Pelosi Doesn't Get About Persuasion

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It isn't as if women don't have enough stereotypes to deal with but along comes Nancy Pelosi to tell those who supported Hillary Clinton's nomination that they shouldn't act like poor sports, taking their marbles and going home, if Hillary Clinton isn't chosen by Barack Obama to be his running mate. They should be happy with whoever he picks, according to Pelosi, because more important is party unity and beating John McCain.

While I'm right on board with the need to beat John McCain, party unity is a matter of persuasion, not accusations of insubordination. Berating women who are still supporting for vice president a candidate who won half the Democratic presidential nominee votes and, as Barack Obama says, took us all another step further in breaking through the political glass ceiling, is not the way to persuade them or anyone to vote for Obama. It's counterproductive.

Pelosi should be saying, "Of course supporters of Clinton still hope she'll be chosen. And why wouldn't they given the race she ran?" Complimenting those who still harbor this hope and are doing what they can to make it a reality is a more astute step toward Democratic Party unity than spiteful detractions in the form of stereotypes -- girls who can't take the rough and tumble of the big leagues and let their feelings get in the way.

In fact, it's not only reasonable to have a favorite for vice presidential candidate, I want to know who is on Barack Obama's short list for secretary of state, secretary of defense, secretary of health and human services, secretary of education, attorney general and so on. This should be part of Obama's plan to end the secrecy that has characterized George W. Bush's administration. I want to know what and how these potential presidential advisers think, what they've done well, and not so well. Don't you? And I have some favorites there too. What's wrong with that?

I'd like to hear a little more from Nancy Pelosi about what the Democrats are going to do for consumers who were made homeless by bad loans. How about some informed commentary on immigration, education, poverty, and avoiding having the war in Afghanistan escalate so much that leaving Iraq becomes an even trade in terms of money spent and lives lost?

If you want to persuade people, you don't belittle them or their concerns. You don't lecture them about what they should rather than do think. That's part of Persuasion 101. If you want to persuade, you don't tell people that how they feel is ridiculous. Invalidation is not an effective persuasion strategy. Linking what they care about to a preferred course of action is more productive. And most of all, you don't tell everyone else what they're doing wrong when your record is less than stellar.