Many people say that there should be more dialogue between liberals and Trump supporters / Republicans. I disagree. I don’t want to try to talk to someone from Venus if I’m from Mars. We don’t speak the same language or share the same values. Discussion is pointless. It won’t result in any kind of Kumbaya moment.
I’ve been having trouble coming up with a reasonable explanation for my reluctance to reach across the aisle. I always said that we didn’t agree on basic facts so there was nothing we could even agree to argue about.
But I was never satisfied that that answer was the full story. Then I read an article in the Huffington Post, on June 26, by Kayla Chadwick. The article was called “I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People”. There it was – right there in the title! The missing piece in my justification for political isolation, or insulation.
Chadwick says it so well: “I don’t know how to convince someone how to experience the basic human emotion of empathy. I cannot have one more conversation with someone who is content to see millions of people suffer needlessly in exchange for a tax cut that statistically they will never see…I cannot have political debates with these people. Our disagreement is not merely political, but a fundamental divide on what it means to live in a society, how to be a good person, and why any of that matters.”
I am willing to pay a little more in taxes if it means that millions more people can get medical care, get a good education or afford to feed their families. If you don’t feel that you, through your government, should help people enjoy these basic rights – if you see them as privileges only available to the rich – then there is no common intellectual ground between us. There is no way I will be able to persuade you to care about your fellow citizens.
“The ‘I’ve got mine, so screw you’ attitude had been oozing from the American right-wing for decades.” Chadwick, Huffpost, 6/26/17. What’s even more incomprehensible to me is that the right-wing has convinced the very people to vote for them who, under the Republicans, will themselves lose governmental support programs that they rely on. These people are voting for politicians who want to screw them and their families! I don’t understand this at all.
People are obviously voting against their own economic interests. For whatever reasons, they are also voting for mean-spirited, regressive policies. I can’t nor do I want to try to make these people understand that they too can get sick. Someone they love can become disabled and they too can become poor if they have to care for sick or disabled family members without governmental help.
I am happy to discuss how best to provide aid to those who need it. We can talk endlessly about the roles of the states versus the federal government in these programs. We can talk about the amount of aid that will be meted out. But if you don’t agree with me that every American should have their basic human needs met – with government assistance when necessary – then there is nothing to talk about. Over and out.