Blame Marco Rubio for this. Hell, blame him for a lot of things, because he deserves them. I’ve no use for the Trump-enabling bastard. But many do, and the holidays are approaching, and there’s going to be conflict where historically there has been merriment. I thought I should offer some thoughts which might, possibly, help some people deal with their friends and relations.
There will be many stories available from professional psychiatrists and mental health experts about how to avoid conflicts. Their advice will generally be better than mine. A large measure of their value lies in that word: generally.
I am offended by how willfully ignorant so many Republicans are being. It’s not stupidity, because I know too many bright ones who’ve bought in to the lies to some degree. None of this behavior would pass the smell test for them if a Democrat did it. They accept it from Republican leadership, and they do so under the guise of assumed authority.
These people, for the most part, will swear they adore Reagan because of his policy and personal traits and then immediately swear they adore Trump’s policy as well… many won’t go so far as to credit his personal traits (and that’s usually the easiest way to distinguished between a Trump voter and what is commonly termed a cultist). The fact that the two leaders were diametrically opposed in policy and personality is irrelevant to them. When this is pointed out to them, they grow defensive.
All media tends to make us feel smarter and better informed. This is what’s happened to the Trump supporters. In their minds, they’re not missing anything… they simply know more than others. This is because the simple logical conflicts you’re bringing up have already been addressed and explained by their leaders. Entire chains of events have been demonstrated to them, and they feel they have sufficient evidence to render judgements.
Going back and pointing out the hole in their logic would seem to be a successful strategy… after all, it works in courtroom dramas; a case, carefully constructed, is destroyed by a key piece of evidence or bit of testimony being undermined. The recalcitrance which develops after a person has made, in their mind, an informed decision is strong. Many of those Perry Mason cases (or My Cousin Vinny, or most other legal shows, serious or comedic) would still end with a guilty verdict or, at best, jurors walking away muttering, “I still think he did it.”
What has been done instead is that the bad arguments have been bolstered by entire webs and chains of discussion and logic. Trump and Reagan’s policies are different? Of course they are! But the ultimate goal is the same, it’s just that the paths are different… one doesn’t always drive up the middle, sometimes you use a pass to the right. You’re still headed to the same end zone. They’re ready with the facile arguments, provided to them by their leadership.
All the while, you know it’s foolish. You can see the damage being done to the country, and they shake their heads and insist it’s helping. Their conviction is bolstered by how many people seem to agree with them on social media and their choices of information.
I’m oriented toward solutions. That requires identifying a problem and addressing the underlying issues. There are two keys in play here: a media structure which is promoting only a single side of the story and an unwillingness for people to think for themselves.
These are dangers not just for Trump cultists, but for everyone; I recognize that. Maybe there are ways to deal with them in the future. For now, though, there is only a week until Thanksgiving. I’ll offer the following suggestions as to how to help you get through them. Remember, though, my admonition about “generally”… and take into account that I’m not an expert. I don’t even have any cultists among my close friends and family (although I do have some Trump voters, and I have cultists that I know from conventions on my Facebook feed.) So… mileage may vary. But that’s as it should be; I’m arguing that people should be trusting their own knowledge and wisdom and taking individual circumstances into account.
First, take some time to listen to the current conspiracy theories about the “stolen election” and be ready to ask questions about the flaws in those theories. (I learned all about asking questions rather than direct confrontation from those conflict resolution experts getting play in the lib’rel media!) I’ll be putting up a debunking piece on the stolen election this weekend, but there will be plenty of other sources. Use them – especially the ones who take the notion seriously, because those will be the arguments you’re most likely to hear. Every lawyer does opposition research on what the other lawyer is likely to argue.
Second, be ready to let things go (cue Frozen soundtrack). Maybe some of the people who are normally at your throat trying to prove you wrong will just want a nice reminder of the way things used to be. There’s going to be tension, but maybe it can just pass. A few gatherings like that can go a long way toward healing… and only when there’s a strengthened familial bond will they be willing to even entertain your arguments.
Ultimately, it’s all about trying to get them to think for themselves and listen to multiple contradictory media sources, and not just in the snippets and sound bites provided by the opposition. Ideally it’s about getting them to either walk away from commentary programs altogether or only listening to them if they’re watching the other side. But that’s not going to happen over the course of a week or even five; you’re not even going to get them to stop talking about “Communist News Network” (or, if you’ve got Berners, “Faux News”). The best you’re going to get is a peaceful gathering and maybe, if you’re not dealing with extremists, a few mild disagreements.
If you can manage to get through the meal with just that? You’ve found something to be thankful for this year.