We are a country of such diverse backgrounds, experiences, interests, and motivations that it seems almost impossible.
Within Biden’s own party there are divisions from ultra-liberal to slightly conservative middle of the road that can create pressure. Everyone who voted for him now wants payback and I fear the consequences.
But it’s those who voted for Trump that are my concern today. And it seems from what we’ve seen post-election that it’s impossible to expect graciousness from many of them. But that’s all the more reason to try. And we must accept we have created some of the impediments to solutions.
After all, I and others, with smug feelings of superiority, have characterized these “Trumpers” in many ways. They are uneducated. Or even worse, they are stupid. They are voting against their own interests. They are racist. And on and on.
Some of this is true. There are out and out racists. We’ve seen them strutting with their guns and heard about social media posts that prove hatred is alive and well in our country.
However, I’ve come to think a lot of what we’ve believed is not true.
For one thing, these people are not uneducated. They just aren’t educated the same way we are. Most of them have skills of a type I can only admire. These skills may not be picked up in college, but many are such that those who possess them are invited into our homes to make repairs we are hopelessly unqualified to attempt. Even the coal miner risks life and health to work efficiently in the only job he has ever known. If this isn’t being educated, I don’t know what education is.
What about the claim Trump’s supporters are voting against their best interests? Is that true? Makes no sense to me. So I wonder if they are voting against what we consider their best interest, not what they do. In other words, we’re wrong.
In a recent column by Thomas Friedman, he indicates there is a feeling of humiliation because we college educated elites look down on the “uneducated” working class (see https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/08/opinion/biden-trump-humiliation.html). Friedman says “…many of his core supporters actually hate the people who hate Trump, more than they care about Trump or any particular action he takes…”
I don’t necessarily believe this is the entire story, but it might well be a major part of it. And if it is, it gives a hint as to how Biden might cure some of the venom over the next four years. I suggest a couple of examples of possible approaches.
First, own up to the fact that Trump didn’t do everything wrong and praise him for what he did right. This shows understanding to the people who supported him that they had legitimate reason to do so. It might open the door for a less rigid rejection of the new president. Of course, finding such positive actions might be difficult, but it seems to me Operation Warp Speed supporting many approaches to getting rid of COVID is one, and we might all benefit from it in the near future.
Second, I think nothing shows respect more than listening. Biden should. We should. I suggest Biden bring at government expense representative groups of ten or so people to Washington and spend an hour with them in the Oval office. Not the nut jobs. Not union leaders. Rather the rank and file of those who voted against him. Honest people who fear for their jobs and feel disinherited from the Democratic party or from government in general.
Ask them what is important to them. Ask them how they think the problems could be solved. Respect their views, even if outlandish. And listen. Don’t talk.
There might be one such group who have lost jobs in manufacturing. Another of coal miners who have observed the movement away from their livelihood threaten their ability to survive. A third of small business owners. And most likely several others.
How much will this help? I have no idea. At the very minimum it will show a president who cares, and Biden strikes me as that kind of man. If he listens carefully and tries to shape policies that are good both for the nation and for the people, maybe advances can be made for everyone. Maybe just listening with respect can accomplish some good as everyone in the country will be aware of his actions.
I wish I was smart enough to know what would really work, if anything can.
What I do believe is nontraditional approaches are going to be necessary to heal our nation.