You Bought It: Reinforcing Team Boundaries When Trump Voters Waver

By Stephen, 10 April, 2017

Every time we say "You bought it," we're further defining the teams. Trump supporters are not happy. Of course, online, the only people being loud are the loudmouths; no one is introspective while making comments on the internet.

But his voters, huge numbers of them are having doubts. All we have to do is be reasonably nice to them and welcome them, give them some place to go. A bunch of liberals screaming "you bought it" and other us-them insults is basically the only way Trump will hold on to his coalition for long. Trump is powered by deflecting shame; we are feeding him the shame he needs. Give Trump supporters positive ways forward and we'll crush him.

Please stop doing this! Our movement, just like the conservatives, is spending so much time insulting the other side. Whenever anyone posts something bad about Trump -- or his supporters -- we like it, we share it, we bounce it around. If our movement is going to succeed, we need to find the discipline to keep welcoming Trump supporters as they first begin to waver.

If you have a Trump voting relative who's at all willing to talk, "you bought it" is the opposite of how to draw them from Trump. If you listened to them enough to know why they voted for Trump, just ask a friendly question about whichever one of these issues might disturb them, listen respectfully and draw them out. All we need to do now is be respectful and let the quieter voters (not the loudest people who argue online) feel heard; many Trump voters have now witnessed something disturbing about Trump but have no place to turn. Be the person they can turn to, and the Trump era will end. People generally have enough facts, if they don't feel under attack -- I told you so and you bought it are the glue that keeps them feeling shame, keeps them locked to a team as it betrays them.

The more of our own opinions (which they already know) we push, the less chance for people to realize for themselves that they want to change their minds. Changing your mind is hard. Publicly admitting a mistake is not an easy task. We need to make this as easy as possible.

Train Ourselves at Social Media

I think we need to create a completely different type of media than we have so far. The thousands of people listening to liberal media like Robert Reich's posts need to be trained in active listening... or any other technique, just try some approach that is used outside of ego-contest politics. Active listening to a Trump supporter is f.'ing work. It will be hard. We have years of conflict, years of Republicans dividing us into teams and Democrats joining in, to undo. Saying "I told you so" is not work, and doesn't help. At this point, half of Trump supporters would talk themselves out of being Trump supporters if someone listened, merely listened respectfully while they sorted out their own thoughts. His presidency, and the GOP with it, would unravel. But as long as we push, they push back, of course.

Trump acts like a gang-leader, and has convinced just barely enough of the electorate that America is a gang-fight. The way to unravel this approach is to repeat patriotic and unified themes and reach out to people, especially people who have drifted into feeling like they are in a ravel gang from us. Blame, shame, and I told you so solidifies the gangs. We could be doing things like creating all-American petitions against spending tax money on the Wall that welcome both conservatives and liberals to sign together ... that would undo Trump's frame, and give people an exit.

This blog will soon include a guide to social media. Write me if you want to help create it! Or check out Nonviolent Communication guides, or pick up a book on making business sales. Mostly, on social media, stop liking and sharing team identification posts, and start sharing messages that might convince and welcome a quietly wavering Trump voter. Give them an exit. Among allies, share posts that teach us how to reach the middle and how to reach conservatives who have integrity — they are miserable right now and have no home. Share posts that challenge, that make us think, rather than the liberal equivalent of just shouting "USA! USA!"

There is hope if we look for it

People don't often go on social media and give loud "mea culpa" speeches, telling the world they think they were idiots. When people change their minds, they do it quietly. And they look for a friendly face. Trump's quiet supporters — very large numbers of voters — are wavering today. The Democrats could unwind the Republican party in a week if we were nice to ordinary people, separating voters from politicians instead of grouping them together. Stop saying "I told you so," and switch to listening to why people voted for Trump, and politely asking follow up questions, listening to what they say, so they feel heard (people not feeling heard is a lot of the reason for Trump's rise ... not policy positions.) If you want to know why Dems lost the election, this "you bought it" post is as good a place to look as any. Trump said that America is divided into two gangs and he's the Godfather. And liberals said yes, sure, we'll be the other gang and insult your gang.

The minute we stop preaching to the choir and teach the choir to sing, we'll turn this around.


I'm a fan of much of Robert Reich's efforts and apologize for writing a negative post, but believe we have to stop giving in to the temptation of writing social media that will go viral by insulting the people we have to convince.