Debating Trump fans is rather like trying to play with a pigeon; it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory.
This is variation of the quote:
“Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon; it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory.” — Scott D. Weitzenhoffer
Ever since reading the book ‘The happiness hypothesis’ by Jonathan Haidt I know it’s rather pointless to have any sort of debate with people who have a very different opinion.
Because we form our opinions on an emotional basis and not on a factual basis. Our opinions are emotional in nature. This is one reason why Trump can lie his ass off and not lose his base. The truth doesn’t matter to them. It’s all about emotions and as a con man he’s quite good at that. He has brilliantly tapped into the anger of lots of frustrated, hyperindividualist, sexually repressed – yes, it has something to do with sex as well -, men embracing a cartoonesque form of masculinity and basically people who just want more, more, MORE. And Trump is good at promising them they will have more. They won’t have more, unless they are already rich. Then they can expect tax cuts. But they don’t want to see that. When they say the economy is doing fine, they don’t want to see most of it is fake. How the stock market is doing is a very poor criterium for measuring how well people are doing.
Precarious jobs, the working poor, the ‘gig’ economy, the faillure of trickle down economics, they don’t want to look at those concepts, they just want to repeat hollow slogans, because…. it gives them a good feeling. A shallow sense of pride.
Most Trump fans have very little going for themselves in life. They need a strong cult leader to project an image of power. Someone they can follow and pretend that they too have a bit of power. They don’t realize they are just doing exactly what the richest people in the US want them to do. The most delusional among them even think they can become billionaires.
The very sad thing is that these people have been horribly wronged and manipulated and have no idea how misinformed they are and how little they know. To expect them to recognize how deeply they have been played is to expect the impossible. The only way to go is to establish a connection with them. They never change their views based on what a stranger tells them. Once you’re friends with them they are more open to it, but you can’t befriend 60 million Trump fans. Imagine all the hunting parties, car races, rodeos and wrestling matches you would have to go to…
I see a lot of bashing of Trump and his fans. Lots of memes making fun of him and his flock. Some of it is clever and funny, a lot of it isn’t.
And it doesn’t convince even one Trump fan not to support him anymore. It just helps to make them entrench more and to defend him anymore.
Trump is a symptom of a system gone wrong. A system that has managed to convince a lot of its victims that the system is good for them. Their own oppression has become their way of life, even their reason for being. They will not give up a cornerstone of their identity because of a meme pointing out Trump’s latest lie or megalomaniac tweet. All of this ‘strong man’ behaviour is giving them dopamine hits.
And then you criticize them. You criticize the down trodden. And you can have the best factual info, it won’t do a damn thing. It works for them. It won’t improve their lives financially – maybe some here and there will reap a small benefit -, they will still be exploited by the corporate state, they will still be milked by insurance companies and a range of other companies offering shoddy services they could get a lot cheaper if they would be willing to adopt some European social-democratic measures, but they won’t. Cause they can feel tough. And the weaker you are the more you long to feel tough.
So what can you do when you pretty disagree with everything Trump stands for? When you are not ok with misogyny, racism, hypocrisy, lies, a volatile foreign policy, and measures that mostly benefit the one percent and wreck the planet…
Organize. Memes get us nowhere. Strangers yelling at each other on social media just polarize things even further. Support politicians who are genuinely trying to put people over profit. Donate. Volunteer. Establish connections. Don’t make fun of Trump fans. It won’t help. From time to time it’s hard not to and it gives a sense of relief, but in the long run it’s just throwing oil on the fire.
Oh, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Trump has unleashed a lot of pent up anger and frustration in his fans. That’s not going to blow over just like that. Lots of folks who in the past kept a low profile feel emboldened to preach hatred.
And the solution is not going to come from the Democratic candidates favored by the mainstream media. Because the democratic party and the republican party are two wings of the same bird: they both do anything to help the rich. Donald Trump is just very open about it. And is loathsome in his treatment of women, his presentation of outright lies and his delusional narcissism. Hillary Clinton would not have been much better. But she would have been a bit more polite. The biggest difference between Obama and Trump is a matter of style and taste. When it comes to foreign policy and economics – the things that really matter – it’s kinda business as usual.