New Year's Eve thread: Will you speak with Trump supporters in 2021?
Can they be "deprogrammed" from the cult? Is it worth it? Or are you already doing that?
Welcome to The Signorile Report, where you’ll read hard-hitting political and cultural commentary and exposés, hear interesting conversations, join in great discussions and get lots of other stuff.
A thread for all of you to jump in with your opinions on this last day of the year we can’t wait to let go.
My question here takes off on something we’ve discussed here as well as on my SiriusXM show — over and over — and really, something that just about everyone’s discussed since 2016: What to do with Trump supporters in your life, including family, friends, co-workers and neighbors?
I published an open letter in 2016, after the election, to a long-time but distant friend — someone I knew going back to childhood and with whom I kept in touch over the years — who I came to realize was a full-blown Trump supporter. It explained, in the headline, “Why We Can’t Be ‘Friends’ Any Longer After You Voted For Donald Trump.”
Realizing this person was a Trump supporter was shocking because in our few-times-per-year get-togethers or phone conversations it had not come up — though we’d not been in touch for the months leading up to the election. But then, after the election, seeing other people recounting similar stories, I went to her Facebook page, and there it was: Crazy, radical conspiracies and lies and distortions. Yes, the worst imaginable.
I felt I never really knew her. There was no way I could carry on any relationship with someone like this, which is what I told intermediaries who contacted me after she’d seen the open letter and was hurt by it. How could I, as a gay person, just put aside that someone voted for a man who would (and did) strip me of my rights — let alone putting the whole world in danger?
This person only seemed to get deeper in, having angry fights on Facebook with people who challenged her. Anyway, since this wasn’t someone close in my life at this time (and lived in another state), and since I have a job in which, part of the time at least, I’m spending a lot of time challenging Trump supporters, the thought of arguing with her to maintain a friendship seemed like it would be way too tense and ultimately pointless. And, as I said, I realized, after seeing that stuff, I never really knew her. But now I knew she voted for a racist and bigot and used insane rationalizations and believed nutty conspiracies, and it changed everything.
So, I cut it off. But I wonder to this day if she eventually came to her senses or not — I have a feeling not, and that she voted for Trump again. I blocked her on Facebook back then, only to unblock eventually because I thought it important that she at least see my anti-Trump posts. But she must have made her posts private beginning last January — and one of the last posts I was able to see was a post she shared — a crazy post about Trump being sent by God. So, no, I don’t think she snapped out of it. The thought of trying to even talk with someone like this seems enormously difficult — and I’ve done it a lot on the radio.
What about all of you? I know for many it’s people closer to you — even husbands or wives, children and parents, so that makes it much more difficult to just cut off. Some of you broke up relationships though, while others figured out ways to keep it together. Some of you are friends with neighbors who are deep in the Trump cult and you maintain the relationship. Others of you are at war with those neighbors.
So can they be “deprogrammed,” as this article discusses? Will you even try? Or have you already been dealing with/involved with these people and you just put that stuff aside and don’t talk about it? In this time when President-elect Biden is talking about unity, do you think you should try to reach out? Or maybe you’re more like, “Screw that!”
Jump in with your thoughts, comments and experiences. I’ll be coming back and joining the discussion. And here’s to a great and powerful 2021!
I cut off communication with a former co-worker when I found out she was a Trump supporter. And I was confused since she is from Guatemala. As an African-American woman with friends and family who are LGBTQ, I will not reach out. Why should I have to reach out and understand people who define me as 3/5ths of a human being? Why should I try to persuade a bigot who believes in abusive conversion therapy for LGBTQ? Those people have zero respect for others so they do not deserve my understanding nor accommodation of their hatred.
I had a heated conversation with my father a few months ago and told him I did not want to hear anything that he heard on FOX news anymore and that it was damaging my opinion of his character. He was pretty offended but fortunately he stayed in the conversation long enough to get to what is important about our relationship. I didn't change his mind and it still bothers me that he is ok with bigotry, but he has stopped mentioning conspiracy theories to me.
As for strangers it's a hard no for me to engage in deprogramming trump supporters. They are not acting in good faith and their arguments are not based in reality.
Also Biden is pretty out of touch to call for unity. I refuse to be unified with racists, fascists and bigots who have spent 4 years inciting and engaging in violence towards myself and the people I care about. There is no circumstance that these people and their behavior should be normalized.
One thing I have learned about these people after studying them for 4 years is they actually do care what we think of them. They can be shamed and made to feel unwelcome and if enough people in a community push back at them they become cowards. So there are ways of dealing with them and discouraging their worst behavior.