To All the Good, Decent People Supporting Donald Trump

16143192_1277634628970695_4412907211557642267_nTo all the Trump supporters who feel that the negative, nasty reaction you’re on the receiving end of from the left is unfair, here’s the thing that I don’t think some of y’all understand. There are bad people in this world. Really, really bad people. There are people who are just hateful. There are people who believe terrible things about innocent people merely on the basis of appearance, religion, opinion or whatever and would do those people harm if they could.

Not everyone means the best. Not everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. It’s not a majority of people who are terrible people. Not even close. But it’s not an insignificant number of people either. Those people are dangerous. They can and have destroyed individuals, families, organizations, communities and, when given enough power, entire countries. They do not care if they are an unpopular minority, if they can get their hands on some power, they are going to use it in ways that harm people.

Even if Trump’s not one of those people (and based on the evidence, I find that assertion doubtful), the fact still remains that he – and you – have shown a willingness to play alongside and empower really terrible people. And that’s scary for a lot of us. That’s what we are reacting to. And of course we’re going to fight tooth and nail against anything that further emboldens or empowers such people.

I am 100% confident that most people who voted for Trump are not terrible people and I’m sure it feels uncomfortable and unfair to be receiving so much blowback, especially given the options we had to choose from. But if y’all don’t take some responsibility for the fact that you and Trump have shown a willingness to play alongside and empower really terrible people who do not play by rules and do not have any real regard for the rest of us, you don’t get to be upset that you’re being caught in the crossfire. It’s what happens when you’re a corn snake in a copperhead den.

At this point it really is up to y’all to reach out to bridge the gap. You’re going to have to make the effort to see what things look like to those of us who are scared shitless to have a white nationalist as the president’s closest adviser. To see things from the perspective of those of us who worry about the consequences of decades of pure, raw hatred being directed towards so-called libraturds, feminazis, sjw’s, intellectuals and others who the rest of us know as neighbors and fellow countrymen.

During and after the election, at least a bajillion think pieces were written saying that we need to understand the concerns of Trump supporters, but I have seen zero, zip, nada, nunka, zilch talk of Trump supporters trying to understand the concerns of those of us who believe that Trump is going to destroy our country, take our way of life with it and potentially cost a lot of people their lives in the process. Relationships are a two way street. And from what I can see, the effort to make peace, empathize and understand is running one way and has been for quite some time. I’m done with it. Either the subjects of all those think pieces are going to take some responsibility for mending the divide or we are going to be in conflict. And I’m going to be belligerent about it. And I’m going to be relentless. And so are millions of other people.

If you don’t like the conflict, if it makes you uncomfortable and bewildered, then do something about it. Instead of dismissing people out of hand, denying their concerns and ridiculing them, how about you actually try to understand? Resist the urge to respond with a stock answer, to fall back on “s/he did it first/worst/to” or an attempt to find hypocrisy. Learn to absorb the blow from time to time when something you feel is unfair is said or you don’t like our tone or language rather than melting down and withdrawing – you’re an adult too, you can do that. Give those you disagree with some credit rather than assuming the worst about them. How about you assume that our concerns are genuine and not just attempts to dominate over you?  Maybe assume that there are really valid reasons that things look so different to those who disagree with you instead of writing off as media, ideology and what-not. Instead of just standing on your belief that you are right and those who disagree with you are wrong, how about you make the effort to actually engage in order to understand? We deserve it just as much as you do.

22 thoughts on “To All the Good, Decent People Supporting Donald Trump

  1. Although I consider myself a Trump opponent, much of what you write here can be legitimately directed at me. I tend to get strangely defensive when I encounter criticisms of Trump or his supporters. Perhaps that’s partly because I’m in a mostly liberal/leftist bubble, and I do hear things about “the kind of people who voted for Trump” or about the parts of the country that voted for Trump, or I hear arguments I have a hard time swallowing, especially charges of “anti-intellectualism.” (I might feel a lot differently if I were around people who openly support Trump, or if I were the type of person who gets targeted by bigotry, etc., on a regular basis.) None of that is an excuse for how I feel, but the urge to withdraw and not engage, or to criticize “tone” and whatnot, is how I feel, at least sometimes.

    I do try to remind myself, mantra-like, that I’m not part of the demographics likely to be targeted by Trumpism, although some of my relatives are. I repeat that “mantra” even when I don’t feel it, because something I always have to recognize regardless of how I *feel*.

    I also think what you say in your post is spot on, especially this: “Relationships are a two way street. And from what I can see, the effort to make peace, empathize and understand is running one way and has been for quite some time.”

    1. I suspect that what you’re experiencing is cognitive dissonance. You probably have a core belief in the fundamental goodness and innocence of people so any vilification of others feels like an assault on one of your fundamental beliefs. And I would guess that your moral code eschews black and white thinking as well as condemnation.

      One of my basic beliefs is also that people are, at the core of their being, good as well. But then there’s the issue of the ego which gets layered over that. So the way I think of it is that while the person is good and fundamentally innocent, their ego may not be. Also, there’s a difference between condemning a person and condemning that ego. I sometimes say that I would never intentionally hurt someone, but I’m gonna be mighty hard on the ego. Anyways, the distinction between the ego and the self is one of the things that has helped me figure out how to deal with the difference between one of my core beliefs (people are good and basically innocent) and the reality that people can be awful.

  2. Always leave your enemy a golden bridge to retreat over (attrib. Sun Tsu). In dialogue with a Trump supporter, what is that bridge to be? Perhaps “Look at his cabinet. You were lied to”?

    1. I am a HUGE proponent of leaving a bridge. I learned the hard way years ago how counter-productive it is to back someone into a corner with no way out. It was kind of disappointing actually, because backing people into an inescapable corner is a talent of mine.

      In dialogue with them, I think that the bridge you suggest is the only one that will ultimately work owing to the sheer quantity of false beliefs they are operating from: “you were lied to.” I would even go so far as to encourage them to scapegoat (ie blame and turn their anger on) the people who lied to them.

      It’s very common in progressive Christians circles to poo-poo scapegoating, because most scapegoats aren’t guilty and it allows people to avoid their own responsibility. And that’s true enough. But the persistent, deep human impulse to scapegoat also comes from the fact that sometimes someone (or someones) really are to blame. We all still need to take responsibility for our part in a problem, but at this juncture, I think that encouraging Trump supporters to use the scapegoat option and recognize that they’ve been lied to is the way to go. But I also think that we’re going to have to wait a while for things to get worse before many of them will be able to hear and respond.

  3. But are you willing to meet somebody half-way if they do? You mentioned cognitive dissonance above, and somebody mentioned being lied to. Are you willing to consider the possibility that you’ve been lied to? Consistently and with malice aforethought?

    Personally, I’ve been aware of the lying nature of the mainstream media (MSM) since 1968 (I was in high school) when I watched them snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory after the Tet Offensive.

    But if you’ve always assumed the MSM was well-meaning and mostly truthful, it could be hard to even credit the idea of what liars they are enough to even look at the evidence. But if you’re willing to look, I’m willing to take the time to show you the evidence.

    I’m not terribly impressed with Mr. Trump, but I was on his side, if for nothing else, just because of the way the MSM treated him.

    So there’s your “Golden Bridge”, the MSM created all many of your worst impressions with their lies and dishonest spin. He’s not really that bad, different from what you’re used to but not the monster the MSM is picturing.

    1. AK, THANK YOU for reaching out. The thing is that I haven’t paid attention to the mainstream media for probably 15 years. I quit my daily news habit (mostly NPR) about a decade ago. What drove me away was recognizing that they had these narratives that they shoved facts into whether that was the best, fairest or more useful way to present them. They’d just sheer off whatever didn’t fit and present the same stories over and over again, with the details differing.

      The other thing that put me off mainstream news was the way that there was no follow up. A scandal would pop up, they’d follow it for as long as the outrage lasted and then you’d never hear about it again. It was like hearing the start of a story over and over without ever witnessing it brought to resolution. Receiving news that way gives everything an air of unreality. Nothing has consequences. What’s a major deal one day apparently has no real world effects. And why was one story big and another, which might have a greater impact on people, was hardly mentioned?

      So, while I don’t agree with the idea that the mainstream media is a horrible boogey-man, I don’t think that following the mainstream media gives you a realistic view of the world. However, the right wing media sources are far, far, far worse. So I basically try to keep an eye out for real news. I want to know what the people who were present for the event said, I want to read the statements from officials and then hear what the people who say they are lying say. I observe how what can be observed with my own eyes gets reported by a variety of sources to get a feel for the spin they put on it as well as the pertinent facts that they leave out. I also try to keep an eye on a variety of international news sources. There’s plenty going on which is not reported on here in the states.

      As to Trump. I know that it’s received wisdom that the negative perception of him is driven by a hostile media, but I promise you that this isn’t remotely true. Trump reveals himself to be a conman and an abusive, incompetent sociopath with his own actions, words and behaviors. Just every step of the way, hardly anyone who has dealt with the man in real life – when no one was watching – has anything good to say about him. He’s dishonest to an extreme level. We’ve all witnessed him say one thing and then deny saying what he’s literally said not 24 hours earlier. It seems to me that by playing off our distrust of the media (which enabled him by giving him such intense coverage) and repeating everything he said), he’s bought himself a lot of cover among his supporters. People just assume the best about him because they resent the media which seems determined to portray him in the worst light. But he’s a truly terrible human being, lacking in any character or human decency. I mean, we’re talking about a guy who is so dishonest that his lawyers bring their own lawyers into meetings with him. Almost everyone who has done work for him wound up suing him to get paid. People have lost fortunes, businesses and livelihoods because of him. There’s no way that you can blame the media for a decades long record of swindling people and mistreating them.

      At any rate, I do appreciate you reaching out and giving me enough respect to ask legitimate questions. I’m afraid a lot of people are very angry on both sides right now. But hopefully, by the time this is all through we’ll have fought it out in a good way and found some common ground as Americans.

  4. Quite right, AK. The MSM have misrepresented Tr+mp by quoting him word-for-word n context, and blackened his character by saying that he has actually signed the executive orders that he’s signed. Disgraceful!

    1. Or, they said he openly bragged of “grabbing” women in a private place against their will when it was an accidentally open mike and he explicitly said “they let you”? (Never mind it was probably all talk.)

      Or they accused him of “mocking a disabled reporter” which was an outright lie?

      1. AK, what he described is sexual assault. The “they let you” is something that those of us who have dealt with predators are very familiar with. If you don’t scream, beat them to a pulp and call the cops, they will claim that “they let you”. (Most women freeze when touched like that by a predator.) Also he has been sued and settled with multiple people who claimed that this was an accurate description of his behavior. So when you have multiple people describing him behaving this way and his own words saying that this is something he does, it is not at all unreasonable to say that this is, in fact, a man who is in the habit of touching and grabbing women in ways that amount to sexual assault.

        As to the issue with Trump and the disabled reporter, I break down why the defense of him just doesn’t hold water with me here:

      2. Trollish gaslighting. And as of this evening he is ignoring the rule of law by ordering airport security to ignore legal rulings, detain people who were IN MID AIR with valid visas (or even green cards) when he signed his order, and refuse to let them see lawyers.

        It may have been a mistake to answer you in the first place. You have no intention of reaching out. You are a saboteur and I will respond no further.

      3. Well Rebecca, I went and read your post, and I’m disappointed you never completely read the catholics4trump article (linked above) or you’d know that Serge Kovaleski does not suffer from spasticity. Quoting:

        As it turns out, Kovaleski’s disability is a congenital condition called arthrogryposis. Arthrogryposis causes restricted movement in the joints but does not cause spasms or uncontrolled moving of the limbs like cerebral palsy does.

        Thus, there’s no similarity between Mr. Trump’s movements and the actual movements of Kovaleski’s hands and arm.

        You can see this for yourself from the article where WaPo doubled down on the lie. If you scroll about half-way down, you’ll find a picture with Kovaleski, on the right, in the bright green shirt. His hand movements are nothing like Trump’s (pictured immediately below).

        I find it astonishing that they would have published this article, since it’s perfectly clear that there’s no similarity.

        (If you can’t get past the paywall, you can google “Trump fired back at Meryl Streep Monday morning after the actress denounced”, including the quotes and follow the WaPo link from there. AFAIK that’ll work.)

        Anyway, I’m not going to waste any more of your time here, since I’m guessing you really aren’t interested in meeting half-way.

      4. I linked to the Catholics 4 Trump video in my response. Or one just like it. I had looked into it months ago. But really, so long as you cannot even be reasonable and simply assume that I’m ignorant and it’s the media’s fault, we cannot dialogue. That’s EXACTLY the sort of shit I talked about in this post that needs to end. You’re being ridiculous to go to this extent to defend the indefensible.

      5. Which part of anything you wrote was an attempt to even meet me 1/100th of the way, much less 1/2 way? Was it the part where you refrained from referring to me as a libraturd? Or the part where you assumed that I blindly follow the MSM like your propaganda sources told you I did.

      6. And this issue of the man’s disability. Come on. I’ve actually spent time in dive bars and hung out with the sort of people who will make fun of disabled people. They aren’t exactly interested in providing an accurate representation of the person’s disability. That’s a really, really bad argument.

      7. I’m not assuming you’re ignorant, Rebecca. However, I had, incorrectly as it turns out, assumed as you just did that you’d linked to the same Catholics 4 Trump piece I did above. Looking closer, I notice you didn’t. It’s much more than a video.

        To expand, then, as I mentioned Serge Kovaleski does not suffer from spasticity. The disability he suffers from looks nothing like spasticity.

        In addition, the notion that Mr. Trump would have remembered that a specific reporter from decade(s) ago had a disability, one that didn’t even look anything like his hand/arm movements, seems far-fetched.

        I’m “meeting you half-way” (or at least trying to) by being willing to consider that your opinions about Mr. Trump might be correct, rather than dismissing them. Since I don’t regard him as any sort of paragon, that’s pretty easy.

        But I’d like to start with the point about the MSM. However much or little attention you pay to them, my contention is that they treated him in an execrable manner, and I’m hoping you’ll be willing to consider the possibility that I’m right about that, at least somewhat.

        Or, if you prefer, you could drop me and go read Scott Adam’s blog posts. He considers himself a master persuader, something I certainly wouldn’t say about myself. He has taken on the challenge of finding a way to show people who fear a Trump Presidency that perhaps their “movie” isn’t quite the right one.

        I’m looking forward to seeing how well he does.

        P.S. I passed along your challenge as input to his problem, and “@”‘ed you as a courtesy. When you re-tweeted me, I felt obliged to make an effort at reconciliation, but I’m not really very good at crossing this sort of emotional gulf, so perhaps we should wait and see what he comes up with.

        P.P.S. I have a comment in moderation.

      8. Thank you for a polite, reasonable response. I think Trump played the media like a violin. He lead them around by the nose, getting exactly the kind of coverage he wanted. The best analysis I’ve read of his campaign strategy said that he basically took his WWE shtick to the next level with the media playing the part of the pretentious blowhard that everyone wants to see take a chair to the face. I mean, he literally sat them all together at his rallies and would point to them and have the crowd boo them. They were ridiculously tone deaf throughout. Most of the time I wanted to shake them and ask “do you know any actual flesh and blood human beings?!?” They’d report things that anyone who has spent any time at all in a dive bar knows people would eat up as if it were the most outrageous thing. Meanwhile, they just let scandal after scandal after scandal fall by the wayside. They played their part in Trump’s game magnificently. He really couldn’t have asked for a better foil to cast as his enemy. The whole spectacle on both sides was disgusting.

      9. I sort of agree he played the MSM like a violin. Sort of. IMO they were (and are) ready to twist anything he says into the worst light possible, then summarize or paraphrase in completely dishonest ways. Most candidates, evidently, would try hard to not say anything that could be badly misinterpreted.

        But what Trump did, it seems, was go ahead and speak to his real audience, sitting in those dive bars you mentioned, and give the MSM every opportunity to make themselves look silly.

        I see his tweets, and much of his speeches, as primarily communicating his emotional state of mind at the moment, like people who hang out in dive bars. “Flag burners should get jail time!” for instance. Not a policy, or directive to his AG, but just how he felt watching a flag-burning.

        Those people in dive bars, or watching Twitter and YouTube, got it. But the MSM didn’t. The MSM thought they had a right to twist everything he said out of shape in the worst possible way. And ended up destroying themselves. ‘Cause Trump’s whole audience could see it for themselves if they wanted. And they could see how the MSM treated him.

        Policy? Who cares about policy. His opponent was so obviously lying (TPP anyone?) that anyone who cared about policy was out of luck either way. Immigration? He promised what people voted for, and what he’s doing. (Scott Adams has a good take on what he’s doing there.) Jobs? Law enforcement? It’s clear by now that he intends to at least try to keep those promises.

        Personally, I suspect that he’s so much of a “persuader” that he doesn’t have a strong grounding in real-world consequences. But as long as he surrounds himself with proven performers (such as Tillerson, etc.) and a few subject experts and listens to them (which AFAIK is how he’s done it for decades) he may do OK.

        I won’t deny I’m very worried about Giuliani. The man is totally clueless when it comes to cyber-security, I’m guessing Trump was looking for something “harmless” to give him for his loyalty, which just demonstrates how clueless Trump is on that subject. Cyber-security, not loyalty.

        But I can’t see him as H1tler 2.0. Just somebody who wanted to be President, and now that he is wants to be seen to do a good job.

      10. The problem is that we can’t afford to give someone with that much power who has surrounded himself with the likes of Steve Bannon the benefit of the doubt. Nor does he have the right to expect it. Plus, we as a country have large numbers of people who have historically been mistreated by those in power and the likes of Bannon and his fan base. It’s immature and extraordinarily selfish to expect to be able to spout of with rhetoric which is very reminiscent of the bad old days not to react strongly. There’s a very serious empathy gap at play here, I believe. I mean, I am in a mixed race family. Steve Bannon’s fans call my children mongrels. How the hell am I can I assume the best about someone like that? At every step, Trump has seemed intent on speaking in ways which, at the very least, are alarming to people who are not far removed from oppression. I mean, even his “America First” stuff was the motto of Nazi supporters in America during WWII. And then he stands back and acts like he’s being mistreated and misrepresented when people respond so negatively. A real leader doesn’t act like that. And a real leader doesn’t blame everyone else for the negative perceptions they themselves are creating.

      11. So by “not giving him the benefit of the doubt” do you mean you’re going to believe he is H1tler 2.0, and to continue believing that no matter what evidence turns up?

        Or have decided what you’re going to have to see to start wondering if you’re over-reacting? Is bringing back jobs from other countries bad? I’ll grant it’d be bad if he continues with one-off negotiations rather than working with Congress to create a level playing field more conducive to everybody in business. If he keeps up his one-off stuff my opinion will certainly go down-hill. But if he starts working with Congress to streamline regulations, and improve the tax situation for business, especially small businesses, will you count that in his favor?

        I haven’t really seen any evidence of racism (these days) on his part, no matter what a handful of fringe-type Bannon “fans” might get up to. Controlling immigration and job outsourcing isn’t racism. (I grew up in Southern California, and all over the Southwest there are “Mexicans” (i.e. US citizens of Mexican ancestry) whose ancestors lived there before the Anglo-Saxons started flooding in in the 19th century and the US annexed the territories.)

        IMO it’s important to distinguish between “race” and national origin, especially when it comes to immigrants. Different nations (and other polities) have different cultures (regardless of “race”), as well as different levels of law enforcement. They also have different life-styles and standards of living, and allowing unrestricted competition among them will just punish US workers. This was what got him elected.

        So the fact that Mr. Trump doesn’t want to let $2.50/hr Mexican nationals take over jobs from Americans who would make $7.50 doesn’t make him a racist. Just as long as those $7.50/hr US citizens are treated equally regardless of “race” or their parents’ origin.

        And culture is also important. Muslim immigrants from most of the arid Middle-East/North Africa region carry a system of tribalism that makes them toxic to civilized Westerners.

        If they’re willing to give up their tribal cultural assumptions and assimilate, they’re highly welcome. But if they’re going to continue treating everybody not a relative as fair game for murder, rape gangs, robbery, extortion, and the like, then I doubt either Mr. Trump, or the Americans who voted for him, will tolerate their presence here.

        But people who are part of our culture already certainly don’t have anything to worry about in that respect.

      12. See, character is destiny. If you look at someone like Obama who is, by all appearances, a decent human being and good to the people around him and see the harm that even a good man can do in that position (I’m thinking about things like drone strike, the continued selling of our country to corporate interests). Same thing with GW Bush. By all appearances, he wasn’t a bad man. Yet he lead us into a pointless war on fake pretenses and sold us out to corporate interests. If good men can do so much harm in the position of President, then I’m not willing to hope for the best when a man whose life long behavior demonstrates a total lack of character takes power.

        Also, I think a lot of Americans are very niave about the issue of white supremacy. These people openly ran our country within living memory. They haven’t developed any morals or respect for fair play and human decency since then. They’ve been itching for a race war and are armed to the moon and back. Add in the presence of a right wing media arm which, quite literally, spends hours day in and day out, for decades now, explaining to their audience why they should distrust, disrespect and hate libraturds, feminazis, sjw’s, diversity, intellectuals and others who the rest of us know as neighbors and fellow countrymen. These three factors: racial grievances towards minority groups, lots of weapons and hateful propaganda have been present prior to the start of every act of genocide and many civil wars which have taken place in the last century. Which may seem alarmist, but what if it’s not? Why are we so different from other human beings that we are immune from the forces which have destroyed other societies?

        And this insistence that Muslims and their culture are uniquely toxic is scary. Really, really, really fucking scary. That’s how genocides and mass repression starts. I live in an area with a lot of Somoli Muslim immigrants. They deal with the same problems that literally every single immigrant group ever to enter our country over the last 150 years has. I walk around their neighborhoods by myself and go into the stores they shop in without any fear whatsoever. I’ve never been treated disrespectfully. The fact of the matter is that immigrants – both legal and illegal – commit crimes at lower rates than the rest of America. It’s terribly unfair that they’ve been vilified. And absolutely terrifying.

        Now Trump’s brought several more Breibart writers onto his staff. And there was the whole deal with following up the historically anti-semetic “America First” talk with a declaration of Holocaust Remembrance day that didn’t even mention the Jewish people. A leader who cared about all American people would, at the very least, not be so careless with his words. And with a man like Bannon on staff, it’s impossible to think that it’s entirely innocent.

        The bottom line is that it’s not unreasonable to expect that Trump would put some serious effort into not scaring the living shit out of people at every turn. Until he kicks Bannon out, denounces everything he stands for and consistently demonstrates that he has no tolerance for anything that looks like oppression, I assume that he intends to do harm to the American people. So, I am willing to be proven wrong. I’d be happy to be proven wrong. But so long as he’s surrounded by Islamaphobes, alt right leaders and the like and behaves the way he does, it would be the height of irresponsibility for me to just hope for the best. If I’m wrong, no harm has been done. But if you’re wrong, that would be a true tragedy.

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