The rise of Donald Trump has been chillingly accompanied by a rise in white supremacy and bigotry. Now, after his win, it’s more important than ever for those of us who fiercely disagree with his platform to substantively engage in conversations with those who support him.
Maybe you’ve already had to deal with these kinds of uncomfortable political discussions with relatives over Thanksgiving, or maybe you avoided them entirely. But this election’s aftermath will be felt for years — we can’t run away. As we go home over break, we must choose to have these difficult conversations with old friends and family members.
The bubble that some of us existed in before this election — in which one could not comprehend half of the electorate voting for such a man — has surely since burst. It was reinforced by that echo chamber of social media, by the people who we surround ourselves with who have similar views, by the mostly liberal college campus that we spend most of our time on. But now that reality has set in, we must use that knowledge to grasp why this division exists and how to overcome it.
This isn’t about compromising our beliefs, but rather trying to reach greater understanding with those we disagree with so markedly. Rather than normalize the fascist and racist rhetoric spouted by some of his supporters, we should might take seriously the anxieties of those who voted for Trump because they believed he would bring them economic prosperity. Instead of condescending to those voters, or unequivocally demonizing the sorts of policies they thought they voted for, let’s have an open, honest dialogue.
As they say in activist circles, people should be “called in” instead of “called out.”
Frankly, we have little choice otherwise. Donald Trump won the presidency, and he got there at least partially by courting white Americans’ racist anxieties. He’s already chosen to appoint a known white supremacist to a prominent position in his administration, and has shown little interest in wholeheartedly denouncing the acts of racism committed in his name. He’s in power, and with that he has empowered people with despicable views.
So rather than cutting ourselves out of the dialogue and retreating to our liberal enclaves, we must start talking to the people closest to us and begin finding common ground. Otherwise, we’ll be shut out — and we need to be on the offensive. We can only be persuasive and convincing, however, if we invite people into our conversations in the first place.
It’s certainly going to be a long, frustrating series of discussions — but progress has always been, anyways. The people Trump’s administration will target can’t wait for you to start talking again to your uncle who wouldn’t shut up about emails.
Nemawarkar is a Plan II sophomore from Austin. Follow her on Twitter @janhavin97