Reaching Out to the Other Side—Without Compromising on Principles

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2017-02-23 – There’s a debate going on in the Democratic Party. One side says that it’s important to expand our embrace to include Trump supporters. The other side says to reject their agenda.

I don’t think that those two views are mutually exclusive.

An agenda is a political “document.” The Republican agenda includes a lot of reprehensible things—things that would redistribute income toward the wealthy, things that would increase the divisions in our society, things that would actually increase misery and death in our country. (If you want particulars, ask. The particulars are not the point of the argument I’m making here.)

Accepting many of these things (most? all?) would be to sell out our principles. I would not advocate acceptance. The most I would do is strategically trade—though the folks on the other side are not traders. They say they are deal makers. They are not. They make deals that benefit themselves only.

Much of our agenda would benefit Trump supporters—or it should. I think it does. A constant liberal grip is that republican voters are constantly voting against their interest. I think that’s a wrong way to look at things. I think that paints a dreadful picture of folks who are just trying to live a good life. But if we think we have programs to benefit people who vote against us, there ought to be room for us to reach out to them.

Not by calling them stupid. Not by calling them racist. Not by shoving our pet programs down their throats.

It’s not going to happen overnight. But we ought to be going into white working-class communities and contrasting what our ideas could do to help them with the way Republican ideas are hurting them.

But they don’t like African Americans, you say. And they don’t like Muslims. And they don’t like LGBT. And they don’t like refugees. And these bigotries are obstacles to our working together. Well, people on our side have bigotries, too, but we make common cause with them. One of the bigotries on our side is hatred of white evangelical Christians.

It’s a matter of building trust.

So what kind of trust-building measures are you willing to do to erode this obstacle of hate between the liberal community and white working-class America?

Relinquishing our abhorrence of racism is not a trust-building measure. We can’t go to a poverty-stricken town in West Virginia and say, “we want to be your friend, so we’re going to stop talking about racism.” If you were a West Virginian, would you trust a person who said something like that? After that person has been saying the opposite for all their life? No.

But you could say something like, “your town has a lot of the same problems that inner city neighborhoods and we think we can find some solutions that will bring jobs in both places.”

No doubt there would still be suspicion. After all, Republicans have been beating the drum for a diametrically opposed worldview for decades. But this type of approach would be far superior to the racism-off-the-table approach for one simple reason: it’s something you can believe in. If you are trying to get people to trust you, you’ve got to be trust-worthy!

The choice is not between acquiescing to Republican BS or rejecting millions of decent people (yes, some are not decent, but most are). There is a third possibility. And I’m not going to call it a middle ground. It’s radical. It’s hard. It is acting in accordance with our stated principles. If we’re “fighting for the workers,” then we ought to be fighting for all the workers.

Don’t you think?

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One response to “Reaching Out to the Other Side—Without Compromising on Principles

  1. Pingback: Economic Development in the Heartland Shouldn’t Be Deplorable | Eightoh9·

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