These are people who voted for Trump despite the fact that he rose to political prominence by promoting the racist birther lie about Obama -- and then lied about it. Despite the fact that he was caught on videotape bragging about sexually assaulting women -- after which victims of his predatory behavior came forward. Despite the fact that his campaign was designed to appeal to a white America purportedly under siege by Muslim terrorists, Mexican rapists and African American gangbangers. Despite the fact that he claimed that climate change is a hoax. Despite the fact that he refused to divulge his tax returns or disclose the extent and nature of his business empire. Despite the fact that his business practices were demonstrably fraudulent. And despite the fact that he was remarkably ignorant and incurious about every aspect of governance.
These are people who continue to support him after he retained an avowed white nationalist and anti-semite as his chief advisor. After he put forward a grossly unqualified and conflicted collection of cabinet nominees. After he restocked the swamp with Goldman Sachs alumni and issued orders to gut Wall Street regulations and oversight. After he refused to divest from his business empire while he and his family exploit his presidency for financial gain. After he issued an ill-conceived unconstitutional order aimed at banning Muslims from entering the country and then sought to delegitimize the judiciary branch for checking his power. After evidence mounts about his connections to Russia and his campaign's collusion in skewing the election. After he decried every negative story as fake news and attacked the media as the enemy of the people while blithely lying several times every day. After relentless tweets that strongly suggest he is mentally unstable and unfit for the office. And after he has presided over a month of absolute chaos and craziness.
These are the people we should listen to, empathize with, and try to reach? I hardly think so.
Last week two esteemed New York Times columnists wrote about what to do about these folks. Nicholas Kristof wrote that we shouldn't stereotype Trump supporters as misogynist bigots and that by demonizing them we not only become intolerant like Trump but, more importantly, "it’s hard to win over voters whom you’re insulting"
Fine. We don't need to stereotype or demonize Trump supporters. And I will readily concede they are not all ignorant racists who long for a white Christian nation (although they have no problem supporting a president who is). But we don't need to spend any time courting them either.
Charles Blow, on the other hand, has "no patience for liberal talk of reaching out to Trump voters." He wrote that "there is no more a compromise point with those who accept, promote and defend bigotry, misogyny and xenophobia than there is a designation of 'almost pregnant.'” Blow concludes that "Trump is a cancer on this country and resistance is the remedy. The Trump phenomenon is devoid of compassion, and we must be closed to compromise."
I'm firmly with Team Blow.
Democrats need to focus on winning the mid-term elections and to do that they need to tap into the anger and the passion of liberals and progressives who are protesting and organizing, who are packing town halls and jamming Congressional phone lines. The worst thing Democrats can do is to alienate their base and quash the energy of the grassroots by trying to appeal to voters who, at least for now, are simply not reachable.
As Paul Waldman stated in the Washington Post:
If Democrats want to win in 2018, they need to highlight the things that will get their own voters as worked up about Trump as possible: his scary appointees, his retrograde executive actions, his constant lies, his self-dealing and corruption, and the tremendous damage he and Republicans in Congress are preparing to do. In other words, Democrats need to be as partisan as possible, and forget about "reaching out."Trying to convince Trump supporters (who have not voted for Democrats since before the Reagan Era) that he is a lying, corrupt, ignorant danger to democracy and to the world -- and that the Democrats have their back -- won't be any more successful than trying to convince them about evolution. So, enough of the heart-warming stories about those non-racist Trump supporters in the heartland of America who just want to be understood. Let's save our compassion for those who will really need it.