Well… I guess the title of this article pretty much says it all. But a few points do deserve a quick exploration. Before I start, let me say that I understand the anger against people who voted for Trump – it felt like a personal betrayal by every single person who pulled the lever for him. It felt like each of them implicitly endorsed the awful things Trump stands for, even if that wasn’t their explicit intention. I understand the anger, and I’m not about to say it isn’t valid, but we have to be practical. If Trump lasts 4 years, then it will take every possible vote to deny him a second term – which means converting as many of his 2016 voters as possible. We have to put aside our personal grievances and act in the best interest of our values and our future.
Many people who voted for Trump went out on a limb to do so. These aren’t the rabid misogynists, the ignorant homophobes, the white nationalists, etc. – those are a lost cause and can’t be converted. No, I’m talking about regular people who felt like they had run out of decent options, and decided to give an “outsider” a chance (I know, I know). Many of them are beginning to regret their choice, and are embarrassed by their mistake. These people do exist, and there are a lot of them. They could be persuaded to vote against Trump in 2020, but only if they are given a chance to acknowledge their mistake without being insulted or mocked. If they are attacked for their choice, they will dig in and defend it… and repeat it. When they’re called ignorant, morons, rednecks, and so on, every slur and condescending rant pushes them farther into the “Trump 2020” camp. How does that benefit anyone?
I’m not suggesting that we should agree with Trump voters, even the moderate ones with reasonable (if misguided) perspectives. The thing is, they may be starting to agree with us, after seeing how Trump and his gang operate in Washington; we just have to welcome them into our camp. If they’ve seen the error in their decision, don’t rub it in to make yourself feel better. Instead, ask them what has made them uncertain about Trump. Try and empathize with their regret, and let them know there’s a better way. Even better: show them there’s a better way, by letting them know it’s okay that they were wrong, and that it’s okay to change sides.
It won’t always be easy. The anger many of us feel at those who made Trump’s election possible is real, and it is strong. I’m just as furious today as I was on November 9th. But again, let’s be practical – direct your anger at Trump, at his cabinet and advisers, and at Congressional Republicans (and Democrats) who support his agenda, not at the folks who were duped by Trump’s Big Con. We have to stop alienating them. Call me cynical, but we need their votes to defeat Trump in 2020, and if that means I have to swallow my anger and sympathize with a 2016 Trump voter, I’m willing to do it. Are you?