You know, maybe they haven’t stopped to think about it.
You know who they are. The folks with the Donald Trump bumper stickers on their cars. The folks in your office, in your church, in your social circle, in your home who think Trump has the magic elixir to make America great again. The folks who believe Barack Obama divided the country, the folks who believe Hillary Clinton should be in jail, the folks who believe every black person hates white cops, the folks who believe that the country has been going downhill ever since the 1960s.
Those folks were cheering last week’s Republican National Convention. They have probably already memorized Trump’s acceptance speech. They will not watch one second of the Democratic National Convention; they have probably never watched a DNC convention in their entire lives. They hate Bernie Sanders just as much as they hate Clinton, viewing him as a pinko Communist, his supporters as unclean hippies.
They have been taught to hate everything moderate and centrist, to say nothing of everything progressive. They have dismissed the Democrats for decades, still angry over “abortion on demand” and “forced busing” and “racial quotas” and “radical feminism” and “militant homosexuality” and “high taxes” and “foreign-policy weakness” and other bogeymen conjured up by right-wing AM radio. They see their hatred as a form of love for this country.
Can they be reasoned with? Can they be talked to? Can progressives find common ground with them? Or would any such effort to do so be a doomed one?
Back in April 2009, then-MSNBC host Keith Olbermann had this prescient discussion with actor/activist Janeane Garofalo:
Garofalo: …I didn‘t know there were so many racists left. I didn‘t know that. As I said, the Republican-conservative movement has now crystallized into the white power movement.
Olbermann: Is that not a bad long-term political strategy? Because, even though your point is terrifying there are that many racists left, the flip side of it is there aren‘t that many racists left…
Garofalo: No. Here‘s what the right-wing has—there’s no shortage of the natural resources of ignorance, apathy, hate [and] fear. As long as those things are in the collective conscious and unconscious, the Republicans will have some votes, [and] Fox News will have some viewers.
Is there anything that can get past the mental barriers of ignorance, apathy, hate and fear that drives Trump voters? Is there anything that can pull them back to the river of reality and reason, and away from the desert of demagoguery and disinformation?
Perhaps we can encourage these Trump supporters to reflect upon the fact that this November marks the 60th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s re-election victory over Adlai Stevenson.
Like Trump, Eisenhower first ran for office in 1952 without having any previous experience in electoral office. However, Eisenhower walked into the White House with far more credentials than Trump currently has–and demonstrated the Presidential temperament Trump has thus far been truly unable to exhibit.
Ask your pro-Trump acquaintances if they honestly think Trump has the same skill set the last non-politician to secure the Republican presidential nomination (and later, the White House) had. Ask them if they sincerely believe Trump has the ability to unite America, to stimulate economic growth, to conquer ISIS, to match or equal the accomplishments of our greatest Presidents.
Perhaps they will finally realize that Trump is the greatest con artist to ever run for the White House, a man who is utterly unqualified for the job, a man who is too small for the big tasks, a man who cannot measure up to Ike in any way, shape or form.
Then again, perhaps Donald’s devotees will never change. Perhaps they really do think having a charlatan-in-chief is copacetic, so long as that charlatan is sticking it to the groups they scorn. Perhaps they will always find inspiration in his intolerance. If so, then consider this: a year after his re-election, Eisenhower courageously ensured the integration of Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. Had he been in the White House then, Trump would have told those nine black students to get lost–to the loud cheers of his supporters.