Thursday, November 19, 2020

Reaching Out to Trump Supporters Is Pointless

Some continue to say that we Democrats and progressives need to reach out to Trump supporters and Republicans to "understand them" or perhaps even win them over.  Personally, I view it as an exercise in futility.  Anyone who has witnessed the last four years of Trump's non-stop indecencies and actions harmful to America's long term interests and yet still supports the man is simply put beyond reason in my view.  Joe Biden may want to unite Americans, but the task with Trump's supporters will be an uphill fight at best and futile at worse.  Those who willfully embrace ignorance and  draw their "news" from right wing cesspools by choice cannot be educated or reasoned with.  Plus, there is the reality of what motivates most of Trump's/the GOP's base more than anything else despite their protestations to the contrary: racial bigotry if not outright hatred. Throw in the Christofascists - most of who are also motivated by racial animus, and reaching out to such people is pointless.  One needs to know who they are dealing with and watch their back accordingly.  A column in the New York Times makes this argument.  Here are highlights:

73 million Americans voted for Donald Trump. He doubled down on all his worst vices, and he was rewarded for it with 10 million more votes than he received in 2016.

The majority of people of color rejected his cruelty and vulgarity. But along with others who voted for Joe Biden, we are now being lectured by a chorus of voices including Pete Buttigieg and Ian Bremmer, to “reach out” to Trump voters and “empathize” with their pain.

This is the same advice that was given after Trump’s 2016 victory, and for nearly four years, I attempted to take it. Believe me, it’s not worth it.

[I]n late 2016, I told my speaking agency to book me for events in the states where Trump won. I wanted to talk to the people the media calls “real Americans” from the “heartland,” — which is of course America’s synonym for white people, Trump’s most fervent base. Over the next four years I gave more than a dozen talks to universities, companies and a variety of faith-based communities.

My standard speech was about how to “build a multicultural coalition of the willing.” My message was that diverse communities, including white Trump supporters, could work together to create a future where all of our children would have an equal shot at the American dream. I assured the audiences that I was not their enemy.

I reminded them that those who are now considered white, such as Irish Catholics, Eastern European Jews, Greeks and Italians, were once the boogeyman. I warned them that supporting white nationalism and Trump, in particular, would be self destructive, an act of self-immolation, that will neither help their families or America become great again.

And I listened. Those in the audience who supported Trump came up to me and assured me they weren’t racist. They often said they’d enjoyed the talk, if not my politics. Still, not one told me they’d wavered in their support for him. Instead, they repeated conspiracy theories and Fox News talking points about “crooked Hillary.” Others made comments like, “You’re a good, moderate Muslim. How come others aren’t like you?”

I’ve even tried and failed to have productive conversations with Muslims who voted for Trump. Some love him for the tax cuts. Others listen only to Fox News, say “both sides” are the same, or believe he hasn’t bombed Muslim countries. (They’re wrong.) Many believe they are the “good immigrants,” as they chase whiteness and run away from Blackness, all the way to the suburbs. I can’t make people realize they have Black and brown skin and will never be accepted as white.

I did my part. What was my reward? Listening to Trump’s base chant, “Send her back!” in reference to Representative Ilhan Omar, a black Muslim woman, who came to America as a refugee. I saw the Republican Party transform the McCloskeys into victims, even though the wealthy St. Louis couple illegally brandished firearms against peaceful BLM protesters. Their bellicosity was rewarded with a prime time slot at the Republican National Convention where they warned about “chaos” in the suburbs being invaded by people of color. Their speech would have fit well in ”The Birth of a Nation."

We cannot help people who refuse to help themselves. Trump is an extension of their id, their culture, their values, their greed. He is their defender and savior. He is their blunt instrument. He is their destructive drug of choice.

Don’t waste your time reaching out to Trump voters like I did. Instead, invest your time organizing your community, registering new voters and supporting candidates who reflect progressive values that uplift everyone, not just those who wear MAGA hats, in local and state elections. Work also to protect Americans against lies and conspiracy theories churned out by the right wing media and political ecosystem. One step would be to continue pressuring social media giants like Twitter and Facebook to deplatform hatemongers, such as Steve Bannon, and censor disinformation. It’s not enough, but it’s a start.

Just as in 2016, I don’t need Trump supporters to be humiliated to feel great again. I want them to have health insurance, decent paying jobs and security for their family. I do not want them to suffer, but I also refuse to spend any more time trying to understand and help the architects of my oppression.

I will move forward along with the majority who want progress, equality and justice for all Americans. If Trump supporters decide they want the same, they can always reach out to me. They know where to find me. Ahead of them.

As a gay American hated by much of Trump's base simply because of who I am, I 100% agree with this assessment.


Sixpence Notthewiser said...

The MAGAts are hopeless.
No amount of empathy or 'understanding' will erase their grievances, racism and xenophobia. That more than seventy million people share Cheeto's corrupt view of the world is a shame.


EdA said...

I recognize that Trumpanzees are low information, high disinformation individuals who are pretty impervious to actual facts, including facts about their own personal lived and living experience. And it is frightening that there are 70 million of them who were in fact motivated to actually show up at the polls -- and many of them have guns.

I'm afraid that trying to discuss anything with a committed Trumpanzee is at least as likely to reinforce their existing beliefs as to dispel them.