Four months ago, way back in July when I could still delude myself into believing there are orders of magnitude more good than bad people in the USA, I wrote to recalcitrant Trump supporters:
The rise of megalomaniacal authoritarian fascists happens slowly but inexorably because people do not call out the obtuse and depraved. The comparisons to Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, are not exaggerations. Authoritarian Charismatic Tyrants rise to power because morally corrupt people or simpletons support them; but they also rise because Good people don’t expose the tyrants or their perverted supporters.
Now we are five weeks past the Tragedy and it is clear that there are at least 60 million American citizens who either acted stupidly or who actually are dangerously depraved. This does also mean that we have at least 62,000,000 people who acted in a considerably smarter way. And we also have many many more who are just “asleep.” In fact, given that there are 350 million in our country, it is possible that 4 out of 5 Americans are already acting smart and good. And of the 60 million not so good, there may be many who want to be Good but just don’t quite know how.
So, what do we Good people do?
For those who acted stupidly, we feel badly for them. It cannot entirely be their fault that they acted this way. We should seek to understand how they could have acted so badly. And then we need to help lift them up to a more enlightened and open minded stance toward the world — to help them be the smart person they really are. And I’m not talking whiz-bang-rocket scientist-eastern elite-front of the classroom sitting-smarmy smart. I’m talking just, well, common sense smart. The kind of smart that allows us to know how to “do the right thing.” The kind of smart we admire in hard working people who make good decisions, even those decisions we disagree with. Supporting Trump is not a good decision.
So for those who acted stupidly we do not blame them. We help them act smart so they don’t do things like vote for a person who hates them — whose behavior will undermine their lot in life. Take the working poor, for instance. Millions of working poor could be lifted out of poverty right now by the “overtime rule” congress and Obama put in place recently. These working poor supposedly supported Trump. But during the entire time prior to the election “Trump [had] vowed a massive effort to roll back a number of regulations from the Obama administration [and he] cited the overtime rule as one of the regulations he would hope to undo.” These “poor, white, working class,” who inexplicably voted in giant droves for Trump, supported a guy who publicly states that he will harm them. This is an example of acting stupidly.
I hate to break it to these people, but the President Elect loathes them. He will do things that will make their lives worse. He finds their ilk dirty and embarrassing. While he will pander to them at a massive rally, he would not spend any time with any one of them at a social event. They would never be invited to Trump Tower. If he were their classmate, he would ignore them in the hallway or rub Vaseline in their dirty poor person hair to give them a reminder that they are worthless in his gilded world of billionaires and aspiring sycophants.
Now, for the depraved; Good people fight them. While it may be the depraved have a choice in their moral corruption, until they change their mind, we do not relent in our constant serving of the truth to those eager to dine instead on rotten double speak and lies. When Kellyanne Conway tweets that Trump’s “victory” was a “landslide. blowout. historic” we Good people fight back by pointing out that no, actually, his “victory” was one of the lowest margins in the history of the USA and, in fact, the guy lost the popularity contest on a massive, embarrassing scale.
We do not normalize the behavior of the Potentate of Pennsylvania Avenue or his loyal supplicants. If our congresspeople are Republican, we call them to let them know that we truly support a diversity of ideas — we wouldn’t ruthlessly fight your run of the mill conservative, for instance. But to support Trump, dear Republican Congressperson, is to support all that is Anti-American. For Trump has openly stated ideas that oppose the constitution and freedom! And you will fight that support until we see new leadership in Congress that has American values at its heart.
And we don’t Pollyanna our way through this time. Oh sure, work on staying positive. But don’t overdo this. There is really very little to be made light of here. If you’re prone to optimism, please, consider obviating that impulse a bit until we have emerged from the Tragedy. Don’t over post vapid and vacuous crap to your Facebook page. Go ahead and do a little bit of that. But use your time there mostly to fight the depraved or help those who acted stupidly.
Because this isn’t a normal time when open minded people are just sad to have your regular, run of the mill selfish and greedy conservative in office. How wonderful it would be to have just that — oh how I long for the fantastical fabricated conservative trickle down fantasy of Ronald Reagan! Instead, we have a fragile, unstable, Narcissist, demagogue who is unfit to take office whom all of us Americans — conservative, liberal, centrist — should oppose.
Because he is the antithesis of America!
In my better moments (which I am embarrassed to admit happen very rarely) I want to fight the urge to discredit those who supported Trump. I know that shaming them will do nothing to change them. And so I put my selfish self in the Trump supporter’s shoes and say: If I supported an elitist, greedy, hoarding, over sexualized and predatory, selfish, arrogant, purposefully ill-informed, and profoundly unfit entertainer for president, I would WANT to be shamed. I would deserve to be shamed. I would thank my lucky stars that someone cared enough to drag me out of my myopia to see the light. And so the Good people of this country should kindly and gently, but resolutely, bring to light the fact that we have much work to do in educating those who acted stupidly and fighting the depraved. Otherwise, “dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” (G. Washington)
And finally, most importantly, we forgive –even forgive the depraved — If they change their minds; which all of us are (still) free to do.