My son, a Christian who
hates strongly dislikes Trump, sent me an article entitled, “Who can win American’s politics of humiliation?” It was written by Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist for the NY Times. While I wasn’t all that impressed with the article in toto, I did find parts of it relevant to today’s political landscape.
Since the NY times requires you to subscribe before you can read their online articles, I’m just going to reprint some of the relevant parts. If you are a subscriber or have some “free” articles available to you (I had 2 left), here is the link. For everyone else …
It has been obvious ever since Trump first ran for president that many of his core supporters actually hate the people who hate Trump, more than they care about Trump or any particular action he takes, no matter how awful.
The media feed Trump’s supporters a daily diet of how outrageous this or that Trump action is — but none of it diminishes their support. Because many Trump supporters are not attracted to his policies. They’re attracted to his attitude — his willingness and evident delight in skewering the people they hate and who they feel look down on them.
People will absorb hardship, hunger and pain. They will be grateful for jobs, cars and benefits. But if you make people feel humiliated, they will respond with a ferocity unlike any other emotion, or just refuse to lift a finger for you. As Nelson Mandela once observed, “There is nobody more dangerous than one who has been humiliated.”
By contrast, if you show people respect, if you affirm their dignity, it is amazing what they will let you say to them or ask of them. Sometimes it just takes listening to them, but deep listening — not just waiting for them to stop talking. Because listening is the ultimate sign of respect. What you say when you listen speaks more than any words.
When George Floyd was being held down by three policemen, one with a knee on his neck, as he pleaded for his mother and onlookers filmed on their phones, he was not just being restrained — he was being humiliated.
Unless Biden finds a way to speak to the sense of humiliation felt by many working-class voters … even Trump’s failure to deal with the pandemic may not be enough to turn these voters against him.
Trump’s goal in this campaign is to separate Biden from Biden voters by making it as difficult as possible for Biden voters to vote. Biden’s goal should be to separate Trump from Trump voters by showing that he respects them and their fears — even if he does not respect Trump.
There’s more, but I think you get the idea.
So I guess the question is: How many of us have the patience and forbearance to do as Mr. Friedman suggests — show respect towards Trump supporters and listen to their concerns?
And more importantly, how many think Biden will be able to convince Trump’s supporters that he respects them and acknowledges their fears?