Simple Steps to Overcoming Trumpery: an Action Guide

6. Boycott the Trump brand

You can hit Trump where it hurts most by boycotting all of his family’s commercial brands. You’ll find an up-to-date list at grabyourwallet.org. And there’s a Boycott Trump app you can install on your mobile devices. This could have a greater effect than you think, since Trump likely has greatly exaggerated his assets, just as he greatly exaggerates everything else.

7. Turn off Fox

For the past two decades, Fox “News” has pumped a steady stream of toxic misinformation into American minds, and the results have been disastrous. It isn’t just a matter of bias — all media is biased in some way. And it’s not just a matter of lies and distortions, though Fox certainly has contributed more than its share.  It’s a matter of deliberately stirring up hatred, fear and anger.

What makes it worse is that Fox is the most-watched “news” network in America — a distinction it has achieved largely because its fans are very loyal and keep it on the dial consistently, whereas other viewers switch channels more often. Because of this “most-watched” status, Fox has become the default mode in many public venues, artificially inflating its ratings even more.

Whenever you see Fox playing at your gym or in any other public venue, switch the channel if you can (almost any other network will be an improvement). If you are unable to switch it yourself, ask management to do so. If you can’t locate the individual who makes such decisions, or you don’t want to confront people in person, send a polite email later. Make it clear that other patrons are also displeased by this venomous one-sidedness, and suggest that they would be much better served by other networks, or at the very least by more variety.

8. Practice verbal judo

There is far too much anger and bitterness in the world. Many people (a great many of whom have gravitated to Trump) seem to thrive on confrontation and contentiousness, and may try to engage you in schoolyard bickering. Don’t take the bait. Learn to turn the other cheek (the one with the deaf ear attached) as many times as necessary.

We’d all do well to follow Michael Moore’s example. While offering some acerbic criticism of George W. Bush, he didn’t engage in name-calling or character assassination or puerile insults, even against people who childishly attacked him. He has even appeared on Fox, subjecting himself to interviews by the likes of Sean Hannity, yet still remained cordial and civil, without even raising his voice.

If you’ve ever practiced judo, you know how to get out of the way and let an attacker throw himself with his own aggression. Do the same thing against verbal attacks; if you meet hostility with pleasantness rather than more hostility, an attacker will be quite thrown off balance — perhaps even enough to indulge in a bit of reflection later.

9. Avoid tribalism

Polarization has reached a fevered pitch in America, and many people seem to regard it as mandatory that they identify themselves as either conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat — and brand the other side as pure evil. Trump supporters will be eager to dismiss you as a “libtard”, “snowflake”, or whatever the pejorative du jour might be.  One of their most frequent comments about the election is that the most satisfying thing for them is seeing how upset “liberals” are; another is that it’s “payback time” against someone or other for some supposed offense or other.

It’s important that we never resort to this kind of adversarial pigeonholing ourselves. It only escalates conflict and stifles dialogue; every time you use a standardized label, you put up a barrier to getting your message across. Furthermore, contrary to popular spin, Trump is not just a problem for “liberals”, but for everyone. There are many people who consider themselves Republicans or conservatives who are as horrified as anyone; why alienate potential allies? (Some of your friends and relatives and coworkers voted for Trump, and you’re not going to accomplish anything worthwhile by pointing out to them how foolish and harmful that choice was.) Stress facts and issues rather than ideologies. In most cases, it’s best to avoid polarized words like “conservative” and “liberal”, as well as combative words like “fight” or “war”.

10. Cross the bridge

You should understand that you will never be able to reason with die-hard Trump fans. Never. They live in an alternate universe in which millions of people voted illegally, Muslims cheered in the streets on 9-11, Hillary Clinton caused the deaths in Benghazi, and Donald Trump is an honest, honorable Christian. There is no fact hard enough to pierce their armor; they’ll simply swat down any and all intrusive facts with an ever-ready supply of “alternative facts”. Many of them are perfectly aware that Trump lies nonstop; they just don’t care because he tells the lies they want to hear. And he hates the same people they hate.

But that doesn’t mean you should quarantine yourself from them. On the contrary, it means you should get acquainted with them, or more important, let them get acquainted with you. Whatever other factors contributed to Donald Trump’s election, one major consideration is that he tapped into a wave of bigotry — of fear and anger and scapegoating directed toward “the others” (Muslims, Mexicans, gays, liberals, secularists, etc.).

Bigotry is a by-product of ignorance; we all tend to be suspicious of what we’re unfamiliar with. But even though some bigots are hateful and a few are even violent, most of them are quite decent toward people they’re comfortable with.

African-American musician Daryl Davis reportedly has convinced some 200 members of the KKK to renounce their membership. But he didn’t do it by actually trying to persuade them. He did it by mingling with them and befriending them and showing them that their stereotypes were wrong.

Imagine what might happen if each of us similarly engaged with 200 bigots — or even one. Again, don’t try to feed them facts; they will instinctively put up a wall. Instead, try asking them questions about their convictions. Remember Socrates, who is regarded as one of the wisest men who ever lived, largely because of his skill in asking questions that gently nudged his listeners to see the folly of their own beliefs. A Klansman told Daryl Davis that blacks are obviously genetically inclined to be criminals, since so many of them are in prison. Rather than argue that point, Davis extended it by observing that whites must be genetically inclined to be serial killers, since there are no known black serial killers. Touche — an expert maneuver in verbal judo.

(continued on next page)

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4 thoughts on “Simple Steps to Overcoming Trumpery: an Action Guide

  1. Good to see your recommendations for how to overcome “Trumpery.”
    Personally, my own preferred way to express activism is to write and write, to all the local newspapers, politicians, pundits, and news outlets like CNN and MSNBC. The area I live in does often include organized protests on a much smaller scale than those in larger cities, and we also have many citizens who are not now, nor ever were, Trump supporters. But what I often find frustrating is that the local newspapers seldom allow letters of opinion to exceed 300 words, so I can often provide only a very general outline of my views, which should contain more facts and figures that can be verified in order to give them clout. I don’t believe this limitation is the newspaper’s fault, because short letters make for opinion pages containing more letters than do those with high word limits. Yet when I am only allowed a bare-bones reply, to me, I might as well be reduced to saying something like, “Trump very bad man.” Which I hear Stephen Hawking’s uttered about him, partly to be satirically cheeky in response to the mentality of Trump and his supporters. That’s a good reply in itself, but sadly does not include many facts and figures, or even a decent slew of adjectives.

    I do think you’re right about the fascist elements in Trump’s administration, as well as the glaring conflicts of interests which are bound to exists concerning his various appointees. Then there is the fact that some nominees apparently know very little about the Posts they have been nominated to fill. The Department of Education Secretary (you know, what’s her name), reportedly has never attended a public school and home schooled her own children. So at the very least, she’d be a cabinet member who would most likely attempt to replace the public school system with a bunch of private ones, (as long as they have “the freedom,” to teach their students about Jesus). So, she Is about the most absurd choice possible. Then there’s Trump’s choice for head of the EPA, who flat out denies that climate change exists, as well as his choice of a billionaire oil executive to serve as secretary of State? In the face of such lunacy, many of us (not just liberals) commonly display puzzled looks on our faces and seek assurances from our friends that what we are seeing with our own eyes is really happening, while Trump’s surrogates on various news broadcasts, have been given the daunting daily task of making ugliness and stupidity sound normal.

    As far as social media goes, its sometimes truly laughable to glance at the list of recent comments posted on the forums in News outlets like Media Matters, and not just break out in laughter, as one reads one childish taunt and insult after another used mostly to vent a writer’s frustrations, rather than actually suppling a cogent position to be debated. The only trouble is that, almost everyone who tries to explain their positions eventually becomes frustrated and angry, and even the most well-meaning of us, keeps slipping up by answering with insults—thus making our comments a completely fruitless endeavor.

    Your suggestion to bug the media is something I have been doing for a long time. But, one can hardly include enough information in a 250 or 300-word letter to adequately express one’s own opinions. Consequently, I have been sending more informed letters made specifically for the perusal of opinion page editor and those who worked for particular news outlets. I have sent many debunking the views expressed by AGW deniers, along with a polite reminder that I only hope they can read my letters when they have the chance to, and that they are not obligated to answer them in any way—as well as the fact that my letters are not meant for publication. My feeling is that most opinion page editors and the higher ups working in most of our newspapers, are not denying global warming out of spite, or for political reasons—they have merely been convinced that the existence of AGW is not a fact, and therefore, remains a topic that needs to be vigorously debated. It’s just too bad more of them don’t realize that we have been vigorously debating this issue for many years, and have not gotten anywhere—due to the very well-funded campaign of denial run by big coal and oil, via artful deniers and Republican think tanks. However, the scientific consensus simply regards the basic facts that global warming exists, and that man is its primary contributor. But, as in any field of scientific study, climate scientists are always going to be challenged with different pertinent questions to answer—unfortunately, we have been debating the basics with deniers for more than three decades, and as long as any small peripheral issue is presented as a major rebuttal of AGW, we have apparently been expected to keep on “discussing,” the issue for many more decades—while more and more damage to the climate is being done. The editors and reporter for many news outlets, remain unaware that this kind of endless uncertainty is precisely the result that big oil and big coal want us to be caught up in—because even doubts about a peripheral issue can be quickly used to criticize distinguished PhDs worldwide (who come from many different political systems, religions, and social or ethnic backgrounds) yet all agree that AGW does exist, and that human beings are its primary cause. My wife and I are both disabled and so it’s hard to physically attend rallies and protests, but we are doing everything else we can.

    One thing I have got to say, so as not to present myself as a “liberal drone,” is that I don’t think Trump likes to attack and/or rape women—I see him as an alpha male with a jock achiever’s mentality who never really grew beyond that stage of development. In the old school he comes from, men typically like to brag about their sexual conquests in the locker room, and women have been seen primarily as objects of men’s desires. So gross as he may be, he is probably that way from following the unspoken macho playbook that so many men read and share. Yes, its wrong, but it’s a far cry from being a wanton rapist, or someone who attacks and hates women.

    In a larger sense though, what is truly upsetting is the way our American electorate can be so easily swayed by any candidate who promises to create jobs and put money in their pockets—even at the exclusion of everything else.

    What exactly does make so many people accept a man of such obvious low and immature character? —perhaps the fact that he’s perceived as the good dude standing up for the average forgotten man—one who just wants a job and a means to provide for his family. In this light, electing a President who has insulted disabled reporter, offered to pay the legal bills of any supporter who punches anti-Trump protesters in the nose, stated that he likes hero’s that don’t get caught, insults the family of a fallen war hero, insults women, wants to deny illegal aliens the chance to stay with their families, says only HE can beat ISIS since he knows more than our generals, and refuses to admit the many times he had been wrong, etc. etc. etc.—somehow became acceptable?

    I could go on forever, but I think the most crucial issue with Trump is that he won votes on the basis of promising American’s jobs while adhering to a chauvinist right wing sense of self-righteous Superiority! I can’t help but be reminded of a statement I have heard often, but cannot verify the origin of—an outsider asked German citizens after WWII why they were coaxed into following someone as evil as Hitler? One citizen answered quite simply, “The trains ran on time.”

    What moral price are we willing to pay, just to have a President create jobs and defend “us first” policies which frequently have negative results. How much do we really need financial security, without requiring that our elected official also display a modicum of morality and ethical behavior? Would we rather have the trains run on time, work jobs minus living wages, permit our children to be educated to reject science, allow employers not to provide safe work places, deny health care to those who are too poor to afford it, or hold a superior attitude about ourselves just because we were smart enough, not to go broke? –etc. etc.

    Remember that in Nazi Germany the trains did run on time, but they also made regular stops at Dachau, and Buchenwald. So how much are we willing to risk for the opportunity to receive long awaited economic benefits while sacrificing our own human dignity—without even caring if our leaders strive to act morally as parts of the human race? Is there really any reason not to support a candidate who displays morality as well as a sound path to economic progress?

  2. I found that it was Mussolini who was given credit for making the trains run on time, However, I don’t know if he originally said it. However, HItler could just as well represent a greedy Fascist who sought to win over the public by pointing to supposed improved efficiencies like this, none of which has anything to do with the spiritual ethics of a Nation.

    Hitler—Mussolini—apples to oranges I guess.

  3. Pingback: Modern American Tribalism | The Propaganda Professor

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