Tear Down This Wall

Brick wall, Photo by Xauxa

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” These words, delivered in front of the Berlin Wall by President Reagan in 1987, resonate through history. They were a firm statement in support of freedom and universal human rights… so firm, in fact, that some of Reagan’s top officials did not want the line included in his speech.

That statement and the actions associated with it demonstrated to me that the Republican Party was where I belonged. It was far from the only example of their principle and their honor. Even as individuals strayed from fealty to the Constitution and our founding arguments, the party itself remained true.

That was the 1980s. It’s no longer Reagan’s party. It’s Trump’s. Where Reagan wanted to tear down walls, Trump has constructed one.

There can be no doubt that reality will assert itself. Just as someone who truly believes they can fly invites disaster when they jump from a rooftop, those who hold faith in Trumpism are staging their own destruction. Whether it comes in the form of violence from North Korea, economic upheaval due to spiraling debt or a steady encroachment and seizure of American interests by dictatorships like China, Russia and Turkey, pain will come.

Mind, this is the same valid argument that many of them use against the radical socialists. The policies have been tried, and shown to be utter failures, time and again and thus it is foolish to pursue them. Those who mock the socialists are now advocates for reckless spending and economic protectionism without any inkling of the absurdity of their position.

It is to the benefit of all if those who currently defend Trump admit their mistakes. How, then, to tear down Trump’s wall?

First, what must be recognized is that it impossible for any of us to directly affect that wall. Any argument we make, no matter how factually based and rational, will be rebuffed. When facts are denied or simply turned “false” because of belief in an imaginary worldview, no amount of reason based on those facts can hold sway. It’s futile to try.

Consider the movie Blazing Saddles. Specifically, consider the scene where a false town of Rock Ridge is constructed.

To us, the wall of “reality” that Trump and his group have created are obviously false. We are looking at the images from behind and seeing how they are constructed using paste, cardboard, and sometimes nothing more than hardened fecal smears. But to the Trump supporters, the wall is the most solid thing there is.

Let’s continue this metaphor.

Whenever they begin to doubt… whenever they consider probing the wall to be certain it’s as solid as they have been told… a media personality they trust walks over to the wall and smacks one small, reinforced section with a rhetorical hammer. Every additional demonstration strengthens their faith in the wall. It becomes increasingly more difficult to convince the Trumpists simply to consider the notion they may be unmoored from reality.

This does not mean the wall cannot be breached. It simply means that we are not the ones who can do it.

I say this as a person who has helped to sway two people from their support of Trump. Allow me to present the successful methods, and their circumstances:

In one case, the Trumpist was someone with whom I have extended conversations four days out of every week. They’ve known my political position for more than five years, and they shared it. As they came to defend Trump – guided by talk radio and Fox hosts they respected – I continued to attack the hard left on every irrational overreach they presented. I would discuss the latest attempts at “cancel culture” before he read about them on Drudge, and I would initiate discussions about the abuse of people who just happened to wear MAGA hats. For all of that, I never failed to remind him that the Trump team was just as bad, and I provided those examples too. By knowing what he was going to be told and by presenting it first, I became a trusted source. As a trusted source, my complaints about Trump were given similar weight to the pundits he respected.

There were three keys to this approach: I did not attempt to retroactively attack the Republican party prior to Trumpism, I was the first source to inform him about many key news items, and I continued to attack the Democrats for their failings, exactly as I had in the years prior. I showed that I had not changed, and that gave credence to my arguments that the Republican party had, instead.

In another instance, a close family friend had heard me rant about Jeffrey Epstein’s connections to Trump, and when Epstein was again arrested, they recalled all of the things I’d said. They began investigating, and decided they could not support a man who would continuously and appreciatively associate with such an open reprobate.

This was a rare victory for my main approach, which is simply to vent publicly about Trump’s failures in the hope that even one person might listen.

What is common to both of them is this: the people who changed their minds were the ones to breach the wall. Yes, I did what I could to shout the truth to them, but in both cases what caused them to turn their back on Trump was doing their own research instead of relying on their favored punditry. I could, at best, nudge them toward that.

This is the ugly truth: they have to convince themselves; and what we can do to encourage that is going to vary from person to person. There is no magic wand or mesmeric cannon that will change the minds of thousands simultaneously, it is going to be a long, tough slog to shift self-perceived patriots from supporting Trump back to supporting the country. In the interim, we need to buoy each others’ spirits against the frustration we feel when good people knowingly make bad choices.

I can at least offer hope in the form of two people who have stepped away from “the cult”. I wish I had a more upbeat analysis of the situation but the idea is to embrace reality, not choose a pleasant fiction stamped “NT” instead of “R” or “D”.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.