My time at Barnes and Noble is coming to an end tomorrow. The funny thing is that the people there are split into three categories. There are the managers. They may have started in another field, but they are making a go of it there. They are in it for the long haul and probably making some decent money. There is a sizeable group of us that were downsized from our career of choice and went there to try to make anything we could for our families. Then, there are the twenty somethings that are either in school or just out of school. Of course, they know everything.
Paul Krugman wrote a piece recently where he talked about post-facts politics. According to the article, the mainstream press doesn't want to call the conservative candidates on their lies or challenge the lies of the talking heads. In doing so they would be tipping their hand. So, they would have to play tit for tat and match a Republican lie with a Democratic lie. That's even when one side tells whoppers while the other side may misstate figures a little.
You have a few choices in this environment. You could do what you did last time and dedicate a web site and resources to debunking every lie that comes down the pike. You could fight dirty and spin a few yarns about the other side. Of course, there is the third option. If they are going to lie about facts and about policies then simply break it down on the story level. Break conservative philosophy and progressive philosophy down to simple terms.
For me, my story is simple and similar to many. I was told that if I got a college degree I would be more successful than if I didn't, so I hit the books and got my college degree. Then, I was told if I wanted to advance within education I would need a masters. So, I did it. Along the way, I picked up certifications in multiple subjects and even added one in special education. I couldn't keep my job and cannot find another one in the field in spite of all of the qualifications I worked hard to get.
So, I swallowed hard and took on a minimum wage job because I got to jump back on the saddle somehow. In the meantime, I have those twenty-somethings ordering me around when they aren't my manager. One in particular has been very hostile because she somehow feels superior. Maybe she resents temporary workers coming in on her turf. Maybe she feels threatened. Maybe she's just an unpleasant person.
Those that have not been unemployed or have never been underemployed can't understand the feelings that come along. I see former colleagues in the store from time to time and you can see their discomfort. It's almost the same feeling one would have seeing a former classmate of their's living under a freeway bridge. Former students see me and openly wondered what was going on. What can I honestly tell them other than the fact that our governor is a horse's ass?
It isn't the loss of income that hurts the most. That is what most people don't understand. It is the loss of identity. I used to be an educator. Whether I was good, bad, or somewhere in between, I could always point to some success stories along the way. Now, I am lost in a sea of uncertainty. Do I wait for the state of Texas to get its act together and start funding education again? Do I continue to chase a dream of working in baseball or covering baseball full-time? If not those two then what exactly? What does my training qualify me to do? In the meantime who am I as a man if I'm not bringing home a steady paycheck?
The facts are on our side, but as we have seen, that often doesn't matter. Let's consider a much simpler question: which side honestly cares more about those us in our situation? We can argue for days about who is to blame for our situation. We can trace it back to the Bush administration or back to Reagan. The other side can blame social security, welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, or the tooth fairy. Which side is more committed to me and my situation?
Facts are great, but they don't communicate feeling. People don't identify with facts. They identify with a story. How many people can identify with that story? As I learned at the store, it was more of my coworkers than I thought. Who do you think is really in it for you? Listen to all of the candidates and distill away the facts and lies. Which one communicates that they really care about your plight and is committed to doing what it takes to make it right?