For otherwise grown adults, the Republican Party sure does collectively act like a bunch of little kids. They know the only way to get anyone’s attention is to cry and say this or that dumb conspiracy theory is “far worse than Watergate.” Republicans know they will catch liberals attention by invoking Watergate, even if it, in fact, has nothing to do with what’s going on.
I had a long, painful and weirdly insightful discussion with a Trump supporter recently that at first left me seething and now leavings me somewhat resigned. Talking to him about Trump was a textbook case of gaslighting and rhetorical shadowboxing. Even when I landed punches, he wouldn’t admit it. It was extremely frustrating.
But I did learn something about how to debate a Trump cult member. You have to give them specifics. You have to be prepared. If you’re going to engage, not enrage a Trump cultist, you need to be prepared. This is a really big mistake I’ve made in the past. Just because it’s self-evident to you that Trump and his ilk are bigoted, racist misogynists, doesn’t mean you’re not going to have to prove it to a Trump cult member.
The sooner we admit to ourselves that Trump supporters are in a deluded cult, the sooner we will better understand how to address them. They don’t see the fetid, rancid ideological dumpster fire of MAGA as that at all. All they care about is that the economy is “humming” and that ISIS has been largely defeated. It’s really weird that otherwise conservative people would embrace moral relativism in their efforts to support the Dear Leader, while a liberal like me has to stand on principle to get anything done.
Anyway, I guess the point is if you’re going talk to a Trump supporter, you can’t just yell at them the way you want to. You’re going to have to have cold hard facts — lots of them — at your disposal that you can throw at them. They will shadowbox, they will rhetorically bob and weave, but find your hill and die on it. Don’t get distracted by what a target rich environment MAGA is. Find a specific thing that really pisses you off about Trump, learn as much as you can about it and attack, attack, attack.
But we’re all doomed. I need some hope.