As I mentioned in my previous post, I called up a Trump supporter I know, to get his take on what happened at our Capitol on Wednesday. I wanted to hear him say it was wrong and that he can no longer support Trump. Of course, I knew that was a long shot, and that in the least he'd tell me he felt it was wrong, but most likely it wouldn't shift his opinion and support of Trump. And I was right. So, I wanted to reflect on some of the larger takeaways I got from our nearly hour long conversation, which wasn't by far enough time, but the baby wouldn't stop crying (I mean, literally my baby was crying, I'm not name calling here).
The reason I want to share some of what he said and what I gathered from our conversation, is because I feel it's important for people to be heard and to try to at least understand where others may be coming from, even if we don't agree. I would have loved to be more thorough, but I wasn't able to dig deep in the amount of time in which we spoke. Those of you who tend to align with me on our feelings towards Trump, you may think why do I bother? Perhaps it's the lawyer in me who just needs to hear the other side and try to build out the whole picture. How do we move forward here if we don't understand what people who think differently than us are thinking? And the truth is, many of us share similar values, but we wind up on opposite sides of the table for various reasons. To be clear, I am not here to understand and explain the view points of white supremacists because that's self-explanatory. But like what Arnold Schwarzenegger said in his most recent social media about Nazis during WWII, not all Trump supporters are white supremacists. I'm here to just share one take on Trump and what some Trump supporters may feel and think. I'm going to do my best to write this as objectively as possible; but this is my blog and not a news outlet, so I retain the right to express my own opinions.
Here are my takeaways from this conversation:
They haven't had a voice in a long time and won't under Biden.
This statement, I thought was by far the most significant. Steve, we'll call him (name changed for privacy), said that Trump takes care of him and people like him. Why do many of us not support Trump? Because we don't feel he's taking care of us. In fact, we feel he is a grave danger to us. The reason I mention this first, is because this often is the basis of many of our problems—people not feeling heard or seen. Why do we keep having BLM protests and calls for breaking down the systemic racism our country was built on? Because Black people have been in a repetitive cycle of abuse with this country ever since the first Africans were brought here as slaves. People need to feel heard and seen.
Racism is not a priority.
When I first started writing this section, it was very long, but I deleted many of the specific details, because I felt like listing everything out didn't serve the purpose of this blog post. I brought up a lot of race related issues and concerns with Steve, and my overall takeaway from our conversation is that race related issues are not a priority, not understood, and not looked at as a real threat. I want to be clear that I mean this as plain as possible with no judgment.
I also got a sense from our conversation that the race talks, protests, and desire to remove statues of Confederate soldiers in public areas lead some people to think that this equates to hating our country. I don't agree with that. You can love your country so deeply that you see it's flaws and want to fix them. In fact, if you love your country so deeply, you would do this. I lived in Tennessee when Colin Kaepernick first took the knee during the national anthem, and I remember hearing how outraged everyone was at the time by this action. It was so disrespectful. Steve also brought this up again when I called the insurrection unpatriotic. But actually, I think Kaepernick was showing our country the greatest respect. He was saying, "my country, I love you so much, I need to call out attention to a huge problem we have, because we need to fix it." Was it not more disrespectful to take our flag and break the windows of the Capitol then? What about beating a police officer with the flag? The insurrection was a violent act. On the other hand, Kaepernick was trying to get his and millions of Black people's voices heard. There is a stark difference. Even if you still think it's grotesquely disrespectful to kneel during the national anthem, I beg you to at least consider the intentions, the same way a person may not think his/her actions are intentionally racist but are in fact received as racist. Remember, we are all sinners.
Also, I've seen many Trump supporters get very defensive when it comes to race discussions. It's like intimate partner violence--just because discussing it makes you uncomfortable and you try to avoid or dodge it, doesn't make it nonexistent. In general, I have learned that when we get defensive about something, that usually means we need to look within ourselves to see what that is. We also need to take a moment to consider how others are hurting or have been hurt. I don't think all Trump supporters are vicious racists, but everyone has their prejudices, and we need to face them, figure out why they exist within ourselves, and we need to allow ourselves to recognize where there is an opportunity for growth. I think one of the big lessons of the summer was that it's not enough to be "not racist," we have to be "anti-racist."
His bad behavior and Twitter rants are justified based on how much the media attacks him.
The media attacks him, Hollywood makes fun of him every night, so of course he lashes out. Steve doesn't love everything Trump says, but wouldn't you crack if you were attacked daily? I think we've heard this rhetoric before. One thing that I have found very interesting from the moment Trump announced his candidacy was how differently two people can hear and receive the same message/person. When Trump speaks, I hear an unstable, dangerously narcissistic person. And I'm not just making an unfounded or casual statement about his mental state. While I'm not a psychologist, based on my experience dealing with people with mental illnesses, Trump appears to me to display some of the same signs as someone who is not mentally stable. His behavior triggers me and gravely concerns me. But clearly, not everyone sees or hears the same thing. As I mentioned above, people like Steve hear Trump and feel seen.
They vote based on their faith.
This isn't new, but what this tells me is that they believe Trump upholds and protects their Christian values and that's certainly important. I’m Christian and I disagree with this and that's why I don't vote for him. When I asked what Christian values though, we didn’t get into a whole lot of details, and he did not actually name any specific "Christian values." What he did raise though are transgender rights. Steve tells me that he doesn’t care how anyone chooses to live their life, it doesn't bother him. What he doesn’t like is when laws are made that affect his life. When I asked for clarification, he mentioned allowing transgenders to use the restroom of the gender they feel they belong to. He said, "how do I know if a man isn’t going to take advantage of this and pretend to be transgender in order to go into a women’s restroom and be a creep". Sure, this could very well happen, but I told him that is like victim blaming. You’re basically saying that being transgender is that person’s fault so they have to deal with the consequences. Then I asked him to consider a transgender woman’s comfort in a man’s restroom. He expressed some sympathy, but he still doesn’t like the idea. Steve, I hate to break it to you, but I think that this means it does bother you.
What about the grandmas at the protest?
Regarding the storming of the Capitol, Steve kept saying that when there are thousands of people, of course you’re going to have a few bad apples. At first he kept saying only 30-40 people actually broke into the Capitol. As footage of the day played on my TV, I assured him it was not only 30-40 people. I don’t know what images they’re showing on Fox News, but it was NOT only 30-40 people. He kept saying there were thousands more who were probably there just to peacefully protest, and now feel bad that they got caught up in something that turned so ugly. I don't doubt that. But we're not talking about those people. Evidence points to the fact that violence was intended, and Trump incited it. What we, or at least I am, so grotesquely offended and concerned by are those who decided to storm the Capitol, those who wore anti-semitic shirts, those who called for violence, brought their guns and homemade bombs, those who desecrated our Capitol, and broke into Congress people's offices, trashed them, and were making death threats. It was like burning a cross, or walking into a synagogue with a Nazi flag, or even walking into a mosque with shoes on and feasting on a giant pig. And when I first started writing this blog, we didn't even know about the Congressmen who may have helped with the attack, and all the other details that have come to light over the last week.
Stop calling them dumb hillbillies.
There’s this notion that right wing folks, [I think?] namely Trump supporters, are dumb hillbillies and left wing folks are elitist. And Steve brought up Anderson Cooper’s Olive Garden statement. Not really Anderson Cooper’s finest moment, and him trying to make up for it by saying he loves Olive Garden was like a white person saying they’re not racist because they have a Black friend. Not all conservatives and/or Trump supporters are "uneducated farmers." In fact, I know there are plenty of farmers who are much smarter, and better people, than some Ivy Leaguers. Having the best education money can buy doesn't make you smarter or better than anyone else. Just look at Josh Hawley.
They like his policies and feel he has been successful, especially in regards to the economy.
The thing about the economy is that in general, the economy tends to go through a roughly ten year cycle. So, I'm not saying Trump didn't do anything positive for the economy, but he also inherited the economy at the time it was due to go up. Under Regan's two terms, the economy was strong, and under Bush Sr., it went down. Policy issues matter, but the natural ebb and flow of the economy also matters. Also, the economy has tanked since the start of the pandemic. Steve and I didn't discuss the pandemic, but my guess is that he would say you cannot blame the pandemic on Trump, and therefore the decline in the economy. However, what I'd say to Steve had we discussed this is that you can blame Trump's response to the pandemic, and therefore the decline in the economy. The pandemic would've hurt the economy anyways, but the severity of the downturn may not have been the same had Trump responded honestly from the beginning, and set a good example by wearing a bloody mask and not holding rallies without proper social distancing in place. Remember, he lied to us. He knew how dangerous the virus was and lied to us about it. This isn't my opinion. It was recorded on tape, there is simply no denying this. If I were a Trump supporter, especially one who attended one of his rallies prior to the Woodward tapes being released, I would be livid that he was so careless with my and so many other's lives.
As far as his policies go, Business Insider did a good write-up of what he has accomplished and failed at. I encourage everyone to read it. As much as some of us detest Trump, it would be really horrible if he didn't do anything positive during these four years. We want him to have accomplished something good. However, one thing to bear in mind is that what some may view as a positive accomplishment, others may view as a negative.
This was the one time Trump supporters got rowdy.
This is not true. Need we be reminded of Charlottesville? What about El Paso? And hello, some folks tried to kidnap the governor of Michigan.
As I've already mentioned, my biggest takeaway is that Steve, and folks like Steve, feel unheard and skipped over. That is a problem. No president is ever going to please everyone. And I would find it difficult to believe that even if you like a certain president, that you would agree with all of that president's policies. But until people like Steve feel heard and seen, why would they stop supporting Trump who tells them everything (or a lot of things) they like and want to hear?