I am not your enemy

Trump supporter, I am not your enemy. You are not mine. You love this country and so do I. It is our country! Just like you, I plan on doing everything I can to try to protect the United States and the beliefs it was founded on. We don’t need to agree on everything, but we need to understand that we are not each other’s enemy.

I can say this after reading “How to Culture Jam a Populist in Four Easy Steps.” It exposed me to a new perspective I was unable to see before, and mistakes made by the opposition in Venezuela, a country that has been under a populist regime for the last 18 years.

The recipe is universal. Find a wound common to many, someone to blame for it and a good story to tell. Mix it all together. Tell the wounded you know how they feel. That you found the bad guys. Label them: the minorities, the politicians, the businessmen. Cartoon them. As vermin, evil masterminds, flavourless hipsters, you name it. Then paint yourself as the saviour. Capture their imagination. Forget about policies and plans, just enrapture them with a good story. One that starts in anger and ends in vengeance. A vengeance they can participate in.

That’s how it becomes a movement. There’s something soothing in all that anger. Though full of hatred, it promises redemption. Populism can’t cure your suffering, but it can do something almost as good — better in some ways: it can build a satisfying narrative around it. A fictionalized account of your misery. A promise to make sense of your hurt. It is them. It’s been them all along.

Since reading this, my approach to everything Trump has changed. The protest and constant pressure on Trump are important, we can never let his lies and unconstitutional behavior become the norm, but that is only half the battle. I now understand to defeat this populist movement, we can’t be simple in our response. We can’t just lash out and attack back on an emotional level. We must be precise and we need to accept that the enemy is not your neighbor that voted for Trump, but Trump himself.

Trump has put a target on liberals, democrats, and anyone else who isn’t with him. We our labeled the enemy and attacked by his supporters.  Our basic human instinct kicks in, an emotional response, to defend ourselves and fight back, cementing ourselves as the enemy.  This is exactly what he wants. The harder we fight, the harder they fight back, and so on…the Chinese finger trap of politics.

Don’t waste your time trying to prove that this ism is better than that ism. Ditch all the big words. Why? Because, again, the problem is not the message but the messenger. It’s not that Trump supporters are too stupid to see right from wrong, it’s that you’re much more valuable to them as an enemy than as a compatriot.

The problem is tribal. Your challenge is to prove that you belong in the same tribe as them: that you are American in exactly the same way they are.

This really says a lot. It’s not the message, but the messenger.  Arguing about crowd size seemed silly to me at first. Yes, a good chunk of that is about Trump’s ego, but what’s great about this lie for him is the fact that it really drives that wedge. On one side you have people saying, “how can you look at these pictures, with your own eyes, and tell yourself that Trump version of the story is true.” On the other side you have people defending him and their choice of voting for him. The message itself doesn’t matter, as long as it serves its duty to divide.

This is the hardest part for me. Moving beyond the distortion in the message and into the core, the important things. We must reach out to those who disagree with us, on a personal, non-political level. The more we understand about each other, the more we will find we have in common.  Most importantly, we will all realize that this polarization is not a solution to our problems, but will only make them worse. We will discover working together, and truly understanding each other, is the only path to real and positive change. At the end of the day we are all Americans and love our country.