No one is more dangerous than someone you’re underestimating.
Look, I’m not going to beat around the bush here with a long introduction. Trump is playing the hell out of the people on the Left right now. If you happen to be on the Left, or more around the middle, but not a Trump fan, like myself, you’re going to want to read this, pay attention, and remember it.
How You’re Being Played
1. You’re being given easy targets, and you’re taking your eye off the ball.
Let me start you with a concrete example. There was a big march this last weekend, right? Made up of a bunch of people mad at the new administration for various reasons. Really big. Yuge. It was almost entirely pushed out of the news cycle because someone used the phrase “alternative facts” the next day and it was more fun for people to post Orwell posts.
So, in effect, Trump managed to turn a major challenge to his new candidacy into a . . . a nothing, really. What’s the big deal about the phrase “alternative fact” really? Alternative means other, so the phrase could be taken to mean, “We heard something different.” Now, even if it’s taken to mean cherry-picking or an outright lie, those things weren’t exactly introduced to DC by the Trump administration, were they?
Now, even if you don’t see it that way, you’ve still traded a Queen for a Pawn in terms of messaging dynamic here. That’s not good guys. That’s bad, actually. If you’re letting the guy you’re trying to squeeze out dictate where you’re spending your messaging time, you’re in trouble.
We’re not really talking about the massive international protests, but we’re still sharing pictures of the difference between the size of Obama’s inaugural crowd and Trump’s as if that’s more important. Or in any way important, at all.
2. You’re being baited with sacred cows.
Let’s talk about the things Trump has done right off the bat. They shouldn’t surprise you, since he’s checking items off the list he published before he was elected.
Leaving the Trans Pacific Partnership
This is an item that was popular with his Rust Belt voters, so Trump can make the case he’s keeping his promises to them. It was also popular with the main insurgent wing of the Democrat party, which means attacking the decision drives a wedge between the Democrats and Trump’s fragile blue collar coalition, and also Democrats and the youth Bernie Bro vote. Engaging on this topic damages I’m mentioning this one first, because Democrats and most people on the Left have chosen wisely not to engage.
Restricting Funding for Foreign Abortions
So this one came out right after the big something march last weekend. And everyone I know who’s on the left ate that up and spit out. RAGE! Warnings that this is the beginning of the end! Now, here’s the thing. I’m fine with abortion, particularly in the early stages; I think it’s often a lesser evil, at worst.
I don’t have any problem with us not funding it in other countries, though. I don’t regard it as a sacred human right to have America foot the bill for your abortion. Let’s not talk about me, though. Let’s talk about the 83% of Americans opposed to funding foreign abortions. That’s a link to Townhall, I know, but the numbers are from a new Marist Poll I’d link to instead if it weren’t hiding behind a paywall. It’s worth noting that the breakdown of support for any taxpayer funding of abortions is 61/35 against.
Of course, abortion isn’t actually a controversial issue across the general populace, it’s just the darling of two extremely vocal minorities on the far edges of public opinion.
Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines
I think it would be fair to say, given Trump’s narrow margins across the Midwest, that the Democrat’s stand against these pipelines already cost them the election. Just to reiterate that: If Obama hadn’t opposed these pipelines, Hillary Clinton would be President right now.
The general population approved of the Keystone Pipeline, before it was blocked, by 57% to 28% or, you know, a 2:1 margin.
I could not find a single poll regarding the DAPL . . . which is bizarre. The closest I could find was one by the Des Moines Register which only asked whether people felt there’d been enough study of the route/impact.
Immigration Orders, Build that Wall, etc.
Essentially for the past 15 years, despite demographic changes, Gallup has polled the percentage of people who want immigration to stay at current levels at 35-40% and the number of people who want it to decrease at . . . 35-40%. Those two tend to shift in unison, meaning that the combined total of Americans who want immigration to decrease or stay at current levels is remarkably stable at 77-78%.
It’s worth noting that there fairly broad agreement across the entire populace that immigrants are great, illegal immigrants who obey the law should have a pathway to citizenship, we don’t need/want a wall, and criminals should be deported.
In fact, exempting his wall, Trump seems to have zeroed in on the one aspect of immigration control that the Left breaks with the moderates and conservatives on: That we should be letting more people in than we already do.
[I’m not counting the immigration freeze, as that supposed to be extremely temporary.]
Federal Hiring Freezes and Dismantling of Federal Regs
Do you know what the biggest threat to America is, according to 67% of Americans? Big Government (Note, this is compared to big labor and big business). 47% think there are too many regulations, 27% the right amount, and 22% too little. Even more starkly, 59% feel the government has too much power, 32 the right amount, and 8% too little.
3. Letting you take it from there.
It’s probably, just maybe, but actually definitely not a coincidence that the very first thing Donald Trump has done as President is target a laundry list of everything that can be described as “Important to the Left,” and “Something at least two-thirds of the country disagrees with them on.”
What people on the (far) Left think they’re saying when they send up shouts, kicking and screaming, and rants, raves, etc. declaring this an attack is, “Look at what this guy is doing, be afraid, stop him!”
What they’re actually declaring, to almost everyone outside of their immediate political interest group is, “I do not share your values, like, at all! And I’m really loud and angry about that! And I think anyone who disagrees with me is a terrible person! And the sky is falling.”
The only thing people respect less than a Chicken Little screaming about the sky falling is a Chicken Little screaming about the sky falling and telling them to go fuck themselves.
I’m not going to explain why that’s a problem. You don’t need me to explain why that’s bad.
Note that there are plenty of people who might agree with you on one of those things, but disagree on the others. That said, you’ve painted yourself into a corner where 19 out of 20 people strongly disagree with one your positions–and, given the tone many have used in condemning their positions, insulted them in them in process.
Trump has baited the political Left into loud, boisterous, often obnoxious and elitist, defense of everything the general public disagrees with them on.
He won this election, in large part, by provoking Democrats into reminding everyone else in the country that Democrats think that everyone who disagrees with them is just a stupid inbred-racist-misogynist-uneducated-hick, because it’s just impossible to be a good person, who believes things for good reasons, but not a Democrat. Maybe that’s not a fair assessment of the Democratic party, but it’s sure the impression they give off when Trump gets them wound up.
So if you’re so smart, stop being stupid.
We’re not playing politics as usual, and if we want to blunt the impact of the–regardless of whether or not you agree with his political positions or the Republican party on the issues–objectively awful human being currently sitting in the White House, people in the opposition either need to start thinking more and talking less, or continue not thinking but also shut the hell up. He’s not dangerous because he’s stupid, he’s dangerous because he’s bloody damned smart. And a narcissistic jerk who’s unqualified for the position he holds on moral, ethical, personal, and experiential grounds. But not stupid.
These are very smart, very calculated, moves to fracture the potential coalitions forming against him, and encourage the Left to take a hardline stance against him, because, well, that’s going to piss people off, since everyone wants national leadership to compromise.
Given the Republican majorities in Congress, a strong Democrat resistance on every issue will let Trump paint them as an irrational enemy . . . and still pass what he wants to pass.
All this week, you’ve done all of Donald Trump’s heavy lifting for him.
The really simple solution: Be kind, be calm, be reasonable, and, whenever possible, build bridges.
The right way to work against Trump’s anger/fear-based rhetoric is not by loudly proclaiming your own opposing anger/fear-based rhetoric.