Remember this? (Caution: Not safe for work.)
I've been thinking about this a lot because, after Super Tuesday, it seems likely that Donald Trump will be the de facto Republican nominee for president. And even a lot of Republicans agree that this is bad.
It's even worse if Trump ends up president. So how do we stop him? How do we stop a candidate when every attack on him seems only to make him stronger?
Maybe we think evangelically.
I'm not saying this in the religious sense. I am saying this in the sense that we non-Trump-loving Americans do something that's not tried all that often anymore: We should make a concerted, respectful effort not just to turn our own voters to the polls, but to convince our fellow citizens that a vote for Trump is wrong — not just from our worldview, but from theirs.
I am, admittedly, spitballing here. That's what a blog is for.
The dominant response to Trump has been contempt. This might as well be his response:
Why? Because Donald, I think, has perfected an insight that goes back at least to Richard Nixon: When we express contempt for him, we're expressing contempt for his voters — or so they feel. And that just re-doubles their passion to support him. Conservatives have been using the attitudes of pointy-headed liberals against liberals for a long time, and what's more, they haven't always been wrong. It's never been productive for liberals; this election season it could be positively disastrous.
So evangelizing Trump voters is going to require a method rarely used in our politics. We should listen to Trump voters. Ask them what they value. And then make the case to those voters based on their values — even if they're not yours. Because the seeming truth is this: It's unlikely that Donald Trump will be a good president for anybody but Donald Trump. There is literally nothing in his history to suggest otherwise.
I'm not talking about a Luntzian listening campaign, where we elicit information purely for the sake of crafting a slick marketing message. I'm not talking about a door-to-door campaign targeted at likely voters, where 10 minutes is spent standing in a doorway making a case.
I'm talking real listening. And real conversation. With people we know.
Trump voters are our fellow citizens. With rare exception, we cannot — should not — write them off. They want respect? Give it to them. They're angry? Hear them out. You don't have to like what you hear. But it might be good, wise practice to take it seriously.
For example: I'm pro-choice. Your friend may be pro-life. If that's their value —and a remarkable portion of Donald's supporters come from evangelical Christianity — don't try to fool them. Acknowledge the difference. Then ask: What laws do you think Donald Trump will pass to benefit your point of view? What judges will he appoint to carry out that vision? Be respectful.
And so on and so forth. This may be a conversation involving multiple conversations, so that research can be done. Don't try to convince your Trump voter to, say, feel the Bern. (I don't want these folks to vote Democratic so much as I want them not to vote for Trump.) Let them figure out who they want as their alternative candidate. But do take time — again, cautiously, respectfully — to convince them, on their terms, that Trump is not the leader they're looking for.
I think that case can be made, because I think, in all but a few cases, it's simply true. And we have a few months to make our case.