After Donald Trump joined the Republican presidential primary race, some of his supporters online began an openly bigoted and anti-Semitic campaign. It’s tempting to respond “If you’re a bigot, don’t vote for me.”
Our response should instead be, “Vote for me … and stop being a bigot.”
Everyone does bad things and has evil thoughts. To err is human. People steal paperclips from work, overcharge their customers, and even worse, they sometimes re-gift Nickelback CDs.
The heart of man yields a range of evil deeds and heroics, from the private, hidden sins to publicly standing before a line of tanks armed only with courage. The most righteous, just man can slide into wickedness, and people can outlive their desire to do wrong.
Similarly, everyone is a bigot on some level. We all believe our ideas are the best, or we would believe something else. Those who say, “I’m not a bigot, I’m tolerant,” are implicitly saying that anyone who disagrees with them about the high value of tolerance is evil. That’s the very definition of bigotry: those who disagree are evil.
We can’t help noticing that we look superficially like some people, and not like others. Democrats have spent the last decade, and the last 5 years especially, whipping the country into a frenzy of racial and class distrust.
Part of the appeal of the wealthy real estate scammer is a revolt against that Obama race hustle. Some of that candidate’s supporters are overtly racist, some merely nativist, and some aren’t either one.
What should be done about those voters? Nothing. We should let people know that valuing oneself or devaluing others by membership in a group is a dumb way to live.
Voters are not robots. Individuals are not all conservative or all liberal, all bold anarchist or fearful drone, all racist or not racist. Each of us shares all of these traits in one amount or another, often holding simultaneous conflicting views in cognitive dissonance.
Talking to voters individually on their doorsteps will drive this point home. Every single voter has a unique, and often confusing mix of values, perspective, and priorities. We share many things in common, of course, but everyone looks at the world slightly differently — often radically so.
We don’t campaign for the votes of people who steal paperclips on the basis of their paperclip theft. We recognize that they have other aspects to their view of the world, and choose to interact with them on the basis of their other, more positive points of view.
We don’t campaign for the votes of people who overcharge their customers on the basis of overcharging customers. We recognize that they have other aspects to their view of the world, and choose to interact with them on the basis of these other, more positive points of view.
We should not campaign to the evil nature of men, but to their good. Doing so can, we must hope, lead them from evil to good, at least in so far as the last 10 years have done the opposite.
People are of many minds. They can be ruled by their distrust of people not like themselves, by their frustration with bad policies and those who allow them, or by their desire to improve the conditions in their nation.
Similarly, we will never win by appealing directly to the various demographic groups as such. Pandering to groups, beside being slimy, can lead to conflict as the groups may have competing interests.
We must not emulate the Democrats in their way of tribalizing America by “race,” “class,” religion, or gender. Instead, we must build our coalition of those who know we must have a strong, prosperous, and faithful nation.