A few months ago, I wrote columns for both The Typescript and a regional newspaper The Tennessean calling for those of us on the left to open our hearts and our minds to Trump supporters. I did not mean to excuse the their behavior, nor to justify their ideology, and certainly not to rationalize their voting choice, but to use kindness and empathy to offer them an off-ramp from the crazy train they boarded in 2016.
I am not an ideological purist, and I try my best to see the good that basic conservativism, liberalism, and socialism bring to the table. I do not believe that there is a pure economic and social philosophy that will benefit everyone, and I believe we need a hybrid of all of the major ideologies to bring about a realistic, somewhat equitable society.
It is also true that I was a longtime ultra-conservative, fanatical, evangelical Christian bigot and I found a way to evolve. I was able to because people who hated my bigotry and beliefs treated me like a human being. They did not stoop to my evel, and they used facts and kindness to expose the flaws in my logic. They forced me to interact with groups that I hated but yet had never interacted with in the past. It was that combination empathy and stern objection to my hate that gave me the chance to evolve.
I still long to give people opportunities for redemption like this; but something has changed.
Trump supporters and fanatical evangelicals have built such strong anti-intellectual barriers around their minds and their souls that I am no longer convinced that they can be reached. They refuse to read any form of media or research that does not come from their pastor or president-approved sources. And if they do choose to read outside of the approved sources, they have so internalized the propaganda of fear of the deep-state and the economic-elite (that is, “Jewish bankers” and Zionists) perpetrated by the Trump administration, that they reject what they have read even before they read it.
Moreover, their dedication to Trump even after he has targeted Chinese American citizens with his COVID-19 rhetoric, the fact that he still has children locked in camps on our southern border, that he has actively encouraged the reopening of States during a pandemic so that he can save the rich men’s bank accounts, is utterly unforgivable. They are not merely advocating for a politics opposed to my own; they are supporting a social ideology that promotes racial and ethnic bigotry and an economy ideology that is a threat to all human lives in the United States.
I would love to continue to give people an off-ramp, to give them a chance to evolve. I don’t want to be the kind of separatist that you find at the extremes of the political spectrum. It has become abundantly clear, however, that these hardcore Trump supporters and evangelicals do not value my humanity. They do not value anyone who is not a member of their political or cultural tribe. They must be opposed, they must be exposed, and they must be expelled from social and political discourse. Our country and our lives depend upon it.