Scandals prop you up

Dear President Trump,

Did you see Andrés Miguel Rondón’s Perspectives piece in the WP? It was first posted on the 26th and I saw it there but kept skimming past it because the title (“To beat President Trump, you have to learn to think like his supporters”) was so off-putting. I would rather not start thinking like your supporters. Since the piece kept persisting, though, I thought I’d better take a look.

Basically, Rondón’s premise is that you, because of your pseudo-populist persona, are impervious to scandals because you portray everything that comes at you as a gratuitous attack by your enemies who, conveniently, your base believe are their enemies. Scandals actually help prop you up because they give you something to get your folks whipped up and outraged by. Rondón points out you promised your base that you will destroy their enemies, including everyone who has gotten in the way of their prosperity. He says (and quite wisely I think) that trying to convince your supporters of the errors of your ways (and theirs in following you) will never work and will only further reinforce the polarization, which will in turn keep this whole mess going. Instead, he maintains we need to recognize our common humanity across the lines and show concern and care for your supporters and the hardships that drove them to put their faith in a charlatan who promised them the moon and instead used them to line his and his friends’ pockets.

As I reflected on these ideas, I kept coming back to what may have been the biggest mistake Hillary made during her campaign: calling your supporters a “basket of deplorables.” Not only was it politically stupid to be caught on camera saying this, but more fundamentally it conveyed the notion that she didn’t want to be everyone’s president were she to be elected. As I made clear yesterday, that is not an acceptable way for someone either aspiring to be president, or who is actually in the office, to behave.

So we are in a mess and it remains unclear how we are ever going to clean it up as the party lines become more and more like battle lines every day. But we have to keep at it, so here is yet another blessing to try to nudge us all constructively forward:

May we be safe to peer across the divide into each other’s eyes.
May we be happy to listen and learn about each other’s lives.
May we be healthy and solid in our own selves so we aren’t threatened by one another.
May we collectively recognize we are all better off if we cultivate peace.

Tracy Simpson


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