In a country where we read and hear about so much public polarization, it is time to remember that there are two things that people from all parts of the political spectrum have in common: we want what is best for our country, and most of our political behavior is motivated by fear. The more we remember this and use it to drive our behavior, the more rapidly we will return to the civil society that most of us treasure.
A little background: I am not a straight-ticket voter, 5 of my top 8 political heroes are GOP, the men responsible for my involvement in politics were both GOP, and 3 of the last 4 campaigns I worked on were for GOP candidates.
The group first motivated by fear was that consisting of people who identify themselves as conservative, Republican, “on the right”, or some combination of the above. According to one of my favorite authors, Alvin Toffler, this group was hit by, “too much change in too short a period of time.” While I would imagine that those who self-identify as liberal, Democrat, and “on the left” look at the increases in civil rights and environmental protection as wonderful, they often forget that so much change in such a short period of time is very unsettling. The change is unsettling even for its advocates, but much more so for its opponents. Toffler argues that the first reaction to overly-rapid change is fear. No one should be surprised that Trump was much more competitive than predicted, up to and including winning the election; from a conservative’s perspective, if you see that your car is skidding on the road, your reaction is to correct that skid as fast as possible; conservatives saw that our country was skidding off the road.
It is easy to understand why people would vote for Trump. The country was skidding off the road; to continue the metaphor, though, quickly correcting a skid is horrible if it puts you into the path of an oncoming truck. I know that you who are GOP-leaning are outraged at the insults hurled your way since the election of Donald Trump. Those insults are illogical (fallacy of composition) and inexcusable; they need to be dealt with.
The point, though, is that Donald Trump is NOT a friend of the GOP or the USA. I realize that, among my friends, you voted for him because you didn’t want to see Clinton in the White House, not because of the invective hurled at you. But Trump has shown, even in a few days, that he’s antagonistic to the Constitution and to a huge list of genuine Republicans.
Please do everything in your power to block him. Ideally, Mike Pence would become POTUS. The best metaphor I can offer is that he is like a neighbor who finds out that a neighborhood house was burglarized, so he now shoots anyone on sight who he doesn’t recognize as legitimate. It solves the burglary problem, but goes against everything that we Americans stand for.
PLEASE contact your GOP senators and representatives. Our own congressman has already gone on record with his fears of what Trump is doing. It will mean more coming from you than from left-leaners, who are dismissed as being sore losers.
Now, for those who identify with the other side. The fact that Trump has acted so rapidly to reverse what you perceived as progress has caused its own kind of future shock. Just as many conservatives have acted thoughtfully in reacting to current events, many on the left have as well. Lawsuits, petitions, and demonstrations are part of our American fabric that we recognize as being legitimate means of persuasion (even if, to be honest, we tend to be more supportive of those whose views we support!)
But the left has to bear some responsibility. Publishing things such as “Bannon is a Nazi” or “Trump is a fascist” will not win people to your cause. Those are ad hominem attacks and, if I had voted for Trump, my response would be to dig in my heels even more, because these attacks make people feel that you are personally attacking their intelligence and their world views. What was the last time that you changed someone’s mind by using personal insults. (Even worse are those who tar the entire GOP or its voters with the same brush. When I read something like, “all Republicans are (fill in the blank with the insult of your choice),” I feel personally attacked.
Above, I wrote that Republicans need to approach their elected representatives, but that doesn’t let Democrats or other left-leaners off the hook. You still have to carry a lot of the load. Keep contacting all of your representatives, Democrats and Republicans. Stick to the issues and avoid name-calling. Finally, remember that most of what impacts us in our daily lives, including government involvement, is local. My Republican best friends are all people who care about their communities and work hard to improve them. If you don’t do the same thing, it undermines your credibility when you complain about the world.
To repeat, we all have much in common, especially fear and love of our country. Please remember that, even if you disagree with someone, that person has the same ultimate goal as you; the key is to find a mutually-acceptable solution and to realize that none of us are going to get 100% of what we want. More important, though, is to remember that we are all fearful in some way. Don’t make someone with whom you disagree feel more fearful, or you will be steering your vehicle into the oncoming truck’s path.