There are less than a hundred days until the election, but it seems like an eternity. Fueled by the prospect of gaining power and flushing Trump, the Biden forces are pushing hard even as Biden wisely minimizes public appearances. Fueled by the hope of maintaining control, the Trump campaign is blanketing their faithful with ads and their punditry is ratcheting up the rhetoric.
Emotions are going to run high. Friendships and family connections, already strained by four years of destructive incompetence and corruption, will be broken as people are bombarded with narratives which they know (sometimes correctly) to be false.
I strongly urge you to not let this happen. Ultimately, Trump shouldn’t be allowed to destroy more than he already has. Bonds of a lifetime should be more important than a corrupt politician.
It’s tough to reconcile that notion because of what his supporters are embracing. They are promoting dishonesty, corruption, supporting our enemies, attacking the financial future of our children, loss of jobs, racism, deaths of our citizens… the list goes on, sadly. It is easy to look at Trumpists and wonder what in the world they stand for, if anything.
What needs to be remembered is that, for the most part, they truly don’t believe that they support any of those things. They believe they’re standing up for life, fiscal responsibility, patriotism, decency, a national melting pot, strengthening our alliances… from behind their wall they hear only the statements of the others on their side, and when you attempt to talk them into leaving their zone your voice is muted by the babble of all the other speakers they hear.
In this time of covid-19, we are offered a great analogy. People can take differing levels of precaution against contracting the novel coronavirus. Some don’t believe it exists and leave themselves open to easy infection. Others believe they’ve taken all possible safety measures but catch the disease anyway – often because it was transmitted in a way they hadn’t known was possible. The same situation exists for propaganda.
We don’t refuse to treat those who catch covid-19, although we may hold some contempt for their decision making skills if they were among those who denied its existence. We help them get through the disease and hope it wakes them up for next time. We do this because it’s the moral action to take, but it often has the additional benefit of inspiring a revelation. Many people who’ve caught covid-19 are quick to say things like “I didn’t believe it was a big deal, but….”
This will inevitably happen for the Republicans as well. Most of them are firm believers in good concepts and are simply unwilling to recognize the facts of what they’re currently supporting. It’s not stupidity, it’s willful ignorance. It is a mental disease, brought on by fear of having one’s identity challenged… whether the fear of being wrong or the fear of being ostracized from a pack.
Even those who were foolish enough to embrace that mental disease shouldn’t be abandoned (although that contempt may come into play again.) For those who caught it but thought they were sufficiently protected from being propagandized, we should afford them particular sympathy. It may not be the correct time to take significant corrective action yet – that may need start a few days after the election, when they first show signs of being open to treatment; we may have to wait for when reason will be effective before administering it in large doses.
Trump will pass. With even a tiny bit of luck and a continued press by all who oppose him he will pass in early November. Just like covid-19, he will have left a trail of death and destruction behind him. Trumpism – nationalism – will take longer to go, but it will be abandoned on the national stage as well. Relationships should be allowed to weather this crisis, until such time as their propaganditis fever breaks.