I tried reaching out to a Trump supporter yesterday.
So yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with my Uber driver. I was in the car with him for about an hour, and for the first 15 minutes or so we talked about North Korea and world events, and he was clearly an intelligent man. But it quickly became clear that he was also a Trump supporter. I know, I know…Trump supporter and intelligent don’t usually belong in the same sentence. But there really are some out there, baffling as it is.
I didn’t tell him at first that I was a Lib. I just let him spout his Fox bullshit…and he spouted quite a bit. But, as you can imagine, eventually, I just couldn’t hold my tongue. I did want to have a civil dialogue with him though. It’s genuinely curious to me how someone who seems to be otherwise intelligent can be such an idiot (I didn’t say that part to him).
At one point, I was trying to explain to him the problem with trump calling people who didn’t vote for him his “enemies.” He said, “Well I guess you don’t have a problem with Hillary saying it though.” Then he told me that Hillary went on Rachel Maddow this week and said horrible things about people who didn’t vote for her, including calling them her enemies. OK, hold up dude. I watched that entire interview. She never said any such thing. Still, he insisted that she did. So I asked, “Did you watch the interview?” Very confidently he answered, “No, but I saw a clip.”
So he thinks he saw a clip on Fox or some other wing-nut outlet that I’m sure then embellished with commentary. And nothing that I said would convince him that she didn’t say what he thinks she said. He also insisted to me that President Obama and Valerie Jarrett called Republican voters the enemy back in 2008. And, of course, that isn’t any more true than what he claimed about Hillary.
That’s just one tiny example in our conversation. But it makes my point. There’s two problems that I see. One is that Trump supporters seem to be excusing all of Trump’s abhorrent behavior by using “whataboutisms.” No matter what Trump does, they will find something worse that was done by someone on the left….even if they have to make it up. And the other is that they truly are getting an entirely different set of news than we are. I mean, completely different.
How can we hope to find common ground when we don’t have a factual baseline to start from? How can we heal the damage that Trump has done to this country when we can’t reach the other side?
My conversation with the Uber driver stayed very calm and civil. But it made me feel really sad and frustrated. Not only sad for this country and for us a people, but it also left me at a complete loss as to how to reach these people. This was an educated intelligent man. But he was so misinformed and just plain wrong about so much. I don’t know if I made any difference to him, but I certainly tried.
I don’t have all of the answers on how to reach these people. But I do know that, for the sake of this country, we must keep trying. We cannot survive in this current state. And, thanks to Trump, it’s only getting worse. It’s up to us to figure this out, even if we have to do it one Uber driver at a time.