As mentioned before, this column springs from my experiences in two very different parts of the country – one dark red and one deep blue.
My experience is not unique of course. To my conservative friends, I’m some neo-utopian hippy and to my liberal friends I’m one step away from goose-stepping in hobnailed boots. Respectfully to each side, I think this reaction says more about the state of our politics than it does about me.
But enough of that… I promised to help my liberal colleagues find a way to fight Trumpism, and that is point at which I aim today.
Recently, I made a trip into the deep crimson region and had an opportunity to field test a brand-new weapon. It worked wonders… It is amazing. I should be forced to register this thing. In fact, about thirty percent of the time it turned dyed-in-the-wool Trump supporters into Trump doubters within three minutes. I tested the weapon on literally dozens of Trump voters – and not a single one escaped intact.
What is this weapon, you ask?
A very specific type of persuasion. I’ve tapped into a previously undiscussed weakness in Trump support. You see, every Trump supporter claims to deeply love this country… yet they voted for someone with ties to the antithesis of the American Ideal – Communists. This level of cognitive dissonance means that Trump’s support, while vocal, is inherently weak. One conversation with a Trump supporter in the following format will immediately weaken their resolve.
The conversation proceeds like this:
- When asked for the candidate you chose in the election, you admit (grudgingly) that you voted for Hilary Clinton.
- In a pause during the subsequent shouting, you protest that the only reason you voted for Hilary is because you could not vote for an out-and-out pinko Commie.
At this point, it is important to note, that you do not reference Russians or Putin. You say “Communist” or “dirty Communist” or “dirty, pinko Commie”. Putin and Russia are abstractions… Communism is a description that has deep emotional ties for many people. Emotional ties are important. You may not recall (or have been alive to remember), but being suspected of being a Communist sympathizer during the Cold War could get you ostracized from your family or an entire community. Trump supporters absolutely remember this too.
At this point, the conversation stalls for a moment as the Trump supporter is confronted with something that has bothered them subconsciously, but they have not consciously addressed. You have tapped directly into the weak link of their support for the President. The conversation continues:
- Remind them that PUTIN was the HEAD of the KGB during the Cold War.
- He wasn’t some crony, he wasn’t some lackey… he was the guy out to destroy America.
- Remind them how many American service members have died since the end of World War II, specifically to stop the threat posed by the spread of Communism.
- If you have a personal story to tell, tell it…
For example, a second cousin of mine was killed during the fighting in Vietnam. He did not die in combat, but he absolutely died fighting the spread of communism.
- You close by reminding them how many Americans died so that we did not live under a Communist regime, and you will be goddamned if you’ll let Americans live under one now.
This works…. Every. Single. Time. Universally. Not one supporter on whom this weapon was tested made it out of the conversation with their support intact.
Vocally, what was observed was an instant cessation of any criticism about my voting record. There was usually an awkward pause, and then the conversation drifted to something less political.
Culturally, you will have achieved even more. The mind of the Trump supporter has been permanently disturbed by your (possibly accurate) conflation of Trump with Communist leaders. There is no lower form of life to someone who grew up in the shadow of the Cold War than someone who sympathizes with Communists.
This works because in their heart Trump supports are truly patriotic. They too have either known, been related to someone who has or have themselves shed blood fighting against Communism. Reminding them of Trump’s unseemly ties to the very cause against which they paid so high a price dislodges the persuasion he uses on them. It literally reframes the debate. At that point, it no longer matters what he says… they begin to question his motives like they would any suspected Communist. No one trusts a Communist.
Remind your conversation partners of this chat each time you see them for a few weeks. Pretty soon, every time Putin’s name is mentioned, they will conflate him with Trump and Communism simultaneously without realizing it. It destabilizes Trump’s message. It wakes up the mind of the Trump voter and makes that person begin to question their support.
Show the Trump supporter that there are other populist options on the Left. They do not have to like Hillary to vote against Trump. There are options. Once these voters see options, they will abandon their support of Trump.
You want a grass roots effort to disaffected voters? This is the path.
Democrats are dealing with someone who possesses “weapons grade persuasion”. If Dems don’t start fighting fire with fire, they will continue to lose