Yesterday, I blogged about the reason that even Trump can not get away with racist attacks on our national heroes, even though he can get away with racist attacks on those other than heroes, and he can get away with non-racist attacks on heroes.
Why is this different? Why is this unacceptable?
Because the only way Republicans can get away with their systemic and implicit racism is by saying, and believing, that people like the ones Trump is now attacking prove that they, their party, and indeed the country, are not racist. Look at how we allow minorities to achieve in America.
Its a terrible thing to attack your own fig leaves. Its really very tender underneath.
What are the implications for those of us who are trying to engage and hopefully move the Trumpsters? And what for political strategists.
Let me suggest that when we talk to the Trumpsters we try and sense what are the things he says that actually push at a potential crack in people’s world view, equivalent to their beleif that the US and they are not racist, find the fig leaf they use to cover the, forgive the phrase “crack,” and then talk about things that Trump has said that are inconsistent with that fig leaf.
For example. lets say that the person you are talking to believes that women have the same advantages as women, and that this is “proved” by the fact that there are three women on the Supreme Court. Then ask why Trump only attacks the women on the court.
Or, lets say, the person thinks that there is equality of economic opportunity here, and indeed that Trump’s business success — and indeed his or her’s — again “proves” it. Then, point out how much money he got from his father. Or, more importantly, the “safety net” that his parents wealth allowed him, thus making it possible for him to take risks that others could not. Explore whether the person you are talking to ever had to not take a risk because of obligations to his or her family. Treating Trump as successful actually undercuts the success of people “like you” who really did it on your own.
As to the political strategics?
I think they need to try to identify for each target group what are the things that people inside fear are not true, but need to believe to stay in balance, such as racial or gender superiority, or American exceptionalism, and then show how Trump actually threatens that. Does he make men look better by bragging about his fingers? What happens when other countries discover that he does not know what he is talking about. Do men look smarter when they say science does not matter?
Or, in a more sophisticated approach, try to focus on the “facts” that are used to prove the untrue generalizations that people cling to save their world view, and then find the times Trump has in fact attacked those “facts,” such as by taking down the “examples” that people cite.
It would be a good focus group project to find out what those “facts” are, and then find where Trump has undercut those, even while not intending to.