As the polls tighten and Trump, the least qualified and the most reprehensible candidate ever to run for president comes close to achieving an unthinkable result it is time for Hillary supporters to take a step back. The country seems very roughly divided between college educated voters and the rest of us. Without being elitist etc we all know a Trump voter. They are not deplorable they are just angry invariably white males who feel that the elites betrayed them and that they are now living in a world where they are steadily losing ground. It has been easy enough for Trump to convince them that the system is "rigged" against them by corrupt elites who are just interested in holding power while they give away the store in trade agreements that do them economic harm and sacrifice American interests. The latest bombshell from the FBI director James Comey has served to harden their belief that Hillary is the source of all that is evil in Washington and that at the email controversy is representative of how the system protects the self dealing corruption that allows elites to control power and keep their voice from being heard. They see Trump as their ability to finally "throw the bums out" and their opportunity to have their their angry and hyper-nationalistic voice heard.
So what do you say to the likely Trump voter in the closing days and hours before they pull the lever for the worst possible candidate that has ever run for president? The temptation to keep silent and not risk an angry confrontation should be resisted. We need to do everything we can in our power to prevent the most catastrophic outcome. So what can we do? My answer is to engage the Trump voter whether they be family members, friends, fellow workers etc. We need to do so in a friendly constructive manner however and in a way that neither condescends to them or puts them too much on the defensive. We need to figure out the right questions to ask, ones that allow them to examine the victim story that that Trump has been selling to them and to see that Trump is really out to victimize them some more rather than take them into any economic nirvana as suggested by his ridiculous slogan "Make America Great Again."
Below are some conversational strategies you might try:
1. Seems like the race is tightening. You got any thoughts about the election?
A nice neutral opening. Trump supporters do feel freshly emboldened now to declare themselves and will probably say something like yeah, I am voting Trump, Hillary is really corrupt. Her FBI investigation means that we are just in for more trouble if she ever gets near the White House.
Your follow up:
Ever thought your radical hatred of Clinton was irrational and based on misogyny?
Trump supporters response would be not to recognize the jibe. They believe that Trump likes women and all that implies, but they go onto argue that Hillary is somehow different. That she has been guilty of a horrendous crime of abusing her security clearance and through her illicit use of power has somehow escaped justice. They go onto conclude that she deserves to go to lose or worse be further prosecuted and go to jail because of her reckless disregard for security matters.
Have you ever thought there might be a connection between the way that Trump supports sexually assaulting women and the way he demonizes Hillary? You don't need to be Sigmund Freud to recognize the fact that he is terrified of strong women and what they represent to his male sense of privilege. The criticism of Clinton is way over the top. Clinton did not use the correct email server as did one of her predecessors Colin Powell. She has taken her punishment for that mistake and admitted that was not a wise thing to have done. She has not been convicted of any crime and like Colin Powell had to pay a heavy price in terms of public humiliation. Are you sure that there is any equivalence between the multiple ways Trump has offended laws and decency and this lapse of judgment. Or is that she is a woman and needs to be held to a higher standard? Reminder she did not break any laws. By voting for Trump who routinely demeans women and overlooking Clinton’s obvious abilities, competence, and achievements in helping people and children in need you maybe a misogynist but you were afraid to admit it to yourself.
What makes you believe that Trump will make America great again?
Their response --he will negotiate better trade deals and protect American workers
Your response--do you think that his trade agreements will actually benefit American workers?
Do you honestly believe that Trump who has outsourced even the steel he uses to build his Trump hotels to China will protect American workers? Even if you believe that have you ever thought what his trade strategy would really mean to American consumers and how he will start a trade war that we can never win? His trade strategies though make no sense--as NPR exposed they will be counter productive.
“With China, Trump says he would impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports.
Let’s consider what this would mean with a real-world example. Let’s say an American consumer goes out to buy a refrigerator from Mexico. For simplicity, let’s say that refrigerator normally costs $100. Under Trump’s plan, that refrigerator from Mexico would now cost 35 percent more, or $135. The thinking behind a tariff is that an American shopper would gravitate toward an American-made refrigerator selling for less. Here’s the problem: Mexico would certainly retaliate and levy tariffs on American products coming into Mexico. And then you have a possible trade war.”
Most economists agree that Trump’s policies are deeply flawed.
Now you are into the conversation and have suggested that Trump’s accusations about Hillary are pitiful when compared to his ethical and moral failings, it would be worth probing some more why they think Trump is qualified to run for office given his background.
What makes you believe that on any planet and in any country someone like Trump a serial abuser of women, the tax system, his contractors, veterans and war heroes and their families, the disabled, hispanics, muslims etc etc etc could be fit for the highest office in the land? We also cannot by the way his record of routine lies and whoppers like the birther malarky.
Their answer--well he is a not a politician, he is a businessman and speaks his mind
He has a mind that has not according to his ghost writer ever bothered to even read one book (except maybe for The Art of the Deal --a book he did not write). He has shown no interest in informing himself about the world situation, routinely pedals conspiracy theories and has not the slightest interest in apologizing for all the insulting things he has said. He also by the way routinely stiffs contractors who have worked for him and constructed a phony university whose one purpose was to try to lure seniors and the unemployed to part with the savings they could ill afford to lose in pursuit of a fake get rich scheme.
Why do you believe that Trump will “make America great again”? Do you seriously think someone whose main motivation in life seems to be proving he is number one and will vengefully go after anyone with the temerity to stand up to him has the right temperament to be a world leader with access to the nuclear codes?
Their answer--well he will make America strong again because other leaders seem to be making us appear less powerful as we lose ground in the Middle East.
Your answer --he knows nothing about the world and he has a dangerous tendency to bully people. He has no plan for the Middle East, for the Ukraine or for China. All he knows is that tough talk around supposedly unfair trade agreements win votes in the Mid West. Clinton is for stronger trade agreements and knows all the world leaders and is very aware of the menace of Putin and Assad than Trump will ever know. Meanwhile Trump wants to be Putin’s friend a like minded bully who likes to flatter other bullies.
Do you honestly believe that America and the world will be a safer place with Trump in charge?
Their answer: Can’t get any worse
Your answer-oh yes it can. Remember George W Bush who had some of the same vengeful macho temperament as Trump and started an illegal war with Iraq after 9/11, a country that did not attack us and caused the deaths of over 5,000 American servicemen. Trump is even more ignorant than dubya, don’t you think that you are playing with fire and catastrophe if you vote for Trump. As 122 Republican security experts have testified--he is unfit to be commander in chief--they state "His vision of American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle. He swings from isolationism to military adventurism within the space of one sentence."
They also note he " is fundamentally dishonest. Evidence of this includes his attempts to deny positions he has unquestionably taken in the past, including on the 2003 Iraq war and the 2011 Libyan conflict. We accept that views evolve over time, but this is simply misrepresentation. "
Do you believe that Trump will heal rather than inflame racial tensions in the US?
Their answer: We must support our police officers asserting their authority even if that extends racial injustice.
Your answer : We know that increased police training and community policing will help calm those cities that have experienced increased levels of violence and crime. Trump has no understanding of this issue. There is a reason why he has been endorsed by the KKK and far right groups. Do we want to revisit the ugly history of how racism divided and almost destroyed this country over the last century?
Please please engage your family member, neighbor, friend and colleagues and try to confront prejudice with facts and logic. This is the election of our lifetimes. Please make every effort not to make the historic mistake of electing Trump. Your children and grandchildren will thank you for it!