why having empathy for trump voters matters (i think)19 Feb 2017
i go back on forth on this almost daily. actually, probably more often than that. some days i’m like “anyone who voted for trump is not worth my strategic thinking. if you only need 3.5% of a population to move an issue, i’m just gonna focus on that.” other days i’m like “the only way we are going to get out of this is to build such a huge movement that it’s impossible to fail. changing culture is the root problem here and that doesn’t happen by only looking at people who already agree with you.”
at the moment i’m feeling the latter and here are some thoughts.
the other day i heard that there were some grassroots(ish) republican working class voter actions that were actually opposing the repealing of the aca. that seems like a moment to do that “giving trump voters an exit ramp” thing. if those people could be reminded that the people (let’s say democrats for short) who worked hard for them to have affordable healthcare are not in the party of donald trump, maybe they’d consider thinking a little differently about how this whole thing works.
the other day, someone (can’t remember who. ugh. i’m the worst.) said something along these lines to me. trump is going to fail at doing most of the things he claimed he’d do. some of those will be because he doesn’t undersatnd how politics, the government, or the economy works and the american president actually doesn’t have infinite power to do whatever they want. some of those failures, though, will be because he actually didn’t intend to do those things (think drain the swamp).
so, knowing that, how do we get out ahead and make it clear to trump voters what it looks like when trump fails? the opportunity is that if the failures can be used to unite trump voters with more justice minded movements, we can win some stuff. the threat is that trump and his team seems to be great at lying. and it’s all too possible that failures will be spun as further proof that the problem really is [insert scapegoat group of the week here] (immigrants, muslims, people of color, etc.) and that we need to apply even more force to remove them. note that this is not a new tactic (#nazigermany).
therefore, i think that if we should/could create a vision that is inclusive enough for trump voters to defect and still benefit. that doesn’t mean defecting will be super comfy cause i’m ceratinly not saying that past oppression will not go unaddressed. but trump voters put their faith in him (oh, the hope we had in obama) and if they can be shown (a) that the person they trusted to save them never intended to save them and (b) some people who knew that all along are actually working to support the margins which is good for everyone including them… well, then maybe we have a chance. if trump voters can see that the quality of life improvements they’re looking for actually come from a progressive stance…
well, maybe that’d get us somewhere. maybe not.
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