This is the interview I had with Dave Consiglio. Mr. Consiglio is a teacher and political activist from Michigan. He has volunteered on Haley Stevens’ campaign for the House of Representatives, and runs the War Donkey pro-Democrat group on Facebook and Twitter.
Siddharth Paratkar: I guess I’ll start off with the most basic question most interviewers start off with: Who are you, both as a person and in the context of politics?
Dave Consiglio: I’m Dave Consiglio. I’m 41, born and raised in Michigan. I’ve lived here my entire life. I’m a high school chemistry and physics teacher – this is my 20th year of teaching. So, for nearly half my life, I’ve been teaching others how to do science.
Politically, I’m a very liberal guy. I wasn’t always this liberal – I used to be just left leaning. Being a teacher will do that to you, and being educated yourself tends to do that as well. But the combination of having daughters and watching Trump get elected made me far more interested in politics.
So I volunteered to work for a campaign (www.haleystevensforcongress.com), started a blog on Quora (The War Donkey), and made my opinions crystal clear: the current president, his band of sycophants, and their policies of hate and greed, have to be stopped.
I hope my small contribution has helped.
SP: What are you doing as part of Haley Stevens’ campaign?
DC: Lately nothing – I’m so busy. But before I was knocking on doors and making phone calls.
SP: What do you plan/want to do as part of her campaign or leadership in the future? Do you have any goals you’d like to accomplish or policies put into action?
DC: The primary goal is to win back control of the house. Congress was meant to be regional, but it no longer is. Now, if you’re not in the majority, you get effectively nothing. So I’m campaigning for Haley, but also for a democratic majority.
After the election, I want to continue to support Haley and the rest of the Dems. The best way for me to do that is to continue to promote progressive ideals online and in person.
SP: Can you elaborate on that idea, of “if you’re not in the majority, you get effectively nothing”? What would you say to those that say that there exists a deep state preventing government action, or that the Democrats are the opposition party: in other words, ideas that put the minority as those who are preventing legislation?
DC: There was a time when some Republicans voted for tax increases while some Democrats didn’t. There was a time when there were pro-choice Republicans. When Democrats were opposed to gay marriage.
But today, polarization is pretty much universal. If you want universal health care, you have to vote Democrat. If you’re pro-life, you have to vote GOP. As for the deep state, I say this: The only deep state is the GOP – they are the minority of Americans, but they are in power.
SP: Polarization is something that has been very evidence recently, especially with the Kavanaugh confirmation. Do you have any ideas on how we can lessen the polarization in American politics, and on how normal, everyday citizens can be ideologically opposed yet still remain friends or family?
DC: I think the best way to do this is to educate people on the “middle ground” of issues. Parties (particularly the GOP) have made it their mission to force issues into binary boxes. But that’s not how issues work. Take gun control. We currently have a lot of it already. We make it really hard for people to buy a machine gun or a tank or a bazooka. Other guns, though, aren’t controlled as much. Think hunting rifles. Very few people want easy access to bazookas to be a thing…the GOP is pro-gun control for CERTAIN guns. The Dems just tend to be pro-gun control for MORE guns. Now, if you really want to make this stick in people’s heads, you can’t try to teach them – it’ll seem phony. It has to get out there organically. If I were in charge of the democratic party, I’d be pumping a huge percentage of my resources into Instagram and Snapchat. That’s where the kids are hanging out these days, and most of those kids can vote in 2020. I’d only send out two messages: Voting is mandatory, and Democrats are the party that actually care about young people and their issues. Get those messages out there and, if in so doing you increase young voter turnout by 5%, you’ll never lose another national election again.
SP: How would you recommend either party stray away from propaganda? With the motions you’re pushing for the Democrats, it seems like it may turn off many young voters if they feel like that’s not representative of the Democratic Party. How should the Democrats convince young voters in this manner?
DC: You’re right: it must actually BE representative of the Democratic party. So we really do have to push for cheaper college, lower taxes for low and middle income people, job security, guaranteed healthcare, etc.
Young people aren’t dumb. They’ll smell a rat.
To get them to vote, it can’t be propaganda – it has to be truth.
SP: Conversely, is there anything you think that the GOP can do to return to what many call “normal conservatism”?
DC: A few things. One, they’ll need new leadership, and that new leadership has to be willing to reject the politics of racism in order to completely distance themselves from Trump’s dog whistle brand of conservatism. The problem with this, of course, is that they’ll lose elections. I’m not sure that this is even a winning strategy for them at any point, but it’s almost surely a loser in the short term.
Also, I think they almost certainly have to give up on the anti-gay marriage bit. That ship has sailed, and the old folks who are still against it are dying, mostly to be replaced by younger people who don’t so much care about this issue.
SP: Well, this has been very informative. Thank you very much.
DC: You’re welcome.