I’m more than alarmed by a Donald Trump presidency. Having said that, I’m also becoming increasingly alarmed by the reaction of many Progressives. I half expect to see my friends foaming at the mouth and pulling their hair out on January 20, 2017. Something (BTW) that will bring Trump and his supporters a great deal of satisfaction, which is one reason instead of feeding into the hysteria, I refuse to be baited. It is also the reason I’m writing this post.
Vilifying all Trump supporters won’t help Progressives
If we hope to change the hearts and minds of those previously undecided voters (many of whom held their nose when they voted for Trump or worse yet, stayed home on election day), vilifying his supporters won’t make them more open to listening to our [Progressives] very real concerns. Diane Hessan wrote an insightful article in The Boston Globe that was republished on BostInno, “What I Learned Studying America’s ‘Undecideds’“. Hessan worked on special assignment for the Clinton campaign to better understand the views of undecided voters in swing states. Her conclusion on why / how Clinton lost the election is summed up in one paragraph in her article:
“Last week, I reread all of my notes. There was one moment when I saw more undecided voters shift to Trump than any other, when it all changed, when voters began to speak differently about their choice. It wasn’t FBI Director James Comey, Part One or Part Two; it wasn’t Benghazi or the e-mails or Bill Clinton’s visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac. No, the conversation shifted the most during the weekend of Sept. 9, after Clinton said, “You can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”
It is time for Progressives to get real. Progressives have only enjoyed political prominence recently. Prior to the Obama administration, you have to go back to the Carter Administration (1976-1980) before you can really point to a President that consistently supported progressive policies and ideals. The Liberal wing of the Democratic Party have a long history of making change happen even when we don’t have a champion in the White House or the support of Congress. So it is time to flex our grass roots muscles and build bridges – not burn them.
We are stronger together so let’s start practicing what we preach
We must identify those who voted for Trump not because they liked him but because they felt they had no other choice and the same goes for those who stayed home on election day. Elections are all about numbers and if our goal is to take back the US Senate and the US House of Representatives (a long shot I know) in 2018 then we need to change our tone and do as Hessan wrote:
“Empathy — trying to understand others as deeply as possible — is an important first step… Obama said it eloquently last week, noting that our election is ultimately an intramural scrimmage because we are all on one team. If we believe in liberty and justice for all, we have to acknowledge how terrible it is to feel left out — and then to ask questions, learn and walk in each other’s shoes.”
I don’t think we should roll-over and play dead, but if we really want to take back Congress, there needs to be more decorum. While some may find it cathartic to shout “bigot”, “misogynist” or “homophobe”, or to scandalize everything Trump says or does, it doesn’t really build bridges or practice what we preach about being stronger together. Nor are those accusations a fair characteristic of everyone who voted for Trump; remember Obama won over voters from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – twice. Lastly, making such accusations will rally those “undecideds” to Trump, possibly delivering him a larger majority in Congress in 2018, and I think we can all agree that must not happen.