Three Questions about “Doing Democracy”

Kathleen Parker, Progressives’ shaming of Trump supporters won’t work

There are three related questions on the table. Toward the end of the episode last Friday, David Brooks asked a good question, which I’ll paraphrase: Given that democracy requires civility and a working hypothesis that even your political enemies are mostly motivated by good intent, how do we “do democracy” between now and the 2020 election, given that the President is a depraved individual, and vast numbers of his supporters continue to enable his depravity?

Kathleen Parker, by contrast, poses what seems to me an inane question. She assumes that progressives are going about deliberately “shaming” Trump supporters, asks whether that tactic is likely to work, and declares that it will not.

Well, here’s the question I want to ask: Are we to refrain from pointing out that Trump is a deranged, narcissistic simpleton, bent on using white supremacy to win reelection, because telling the truth about who Trump implies that we think poorly of those who support Trump, which will make them feel defensive, which will in turn encourage them to go out and vote for him again in 2020?

In short, to keep Trump supporters from being riled up, should we pretend that Trump is someone other than who he is?

I will answer my own question. No. We should not pull our punches about Trump because telling the truth about Trump will make his supporters angry.

Nor, I believe, is it advisable to place special emphasis on what we think of Trump’s supporters as fine specimens of the human race. On that latter topic, I would advise we keep our bottom line views largely to ourselves.

If pressed by a Trump supporter on the matter, here is how I would respond.

First, it’s not up to me to make a final judgment on who is a good person and who is a bad person.

Two, it’s also not very useful to have a semantic debate about who is and isn’t a “racist,” because that word is used in many different ways.

All that said, three, your continued support of Trump is evidence that that your values are very different from my values.

And, four, in my opinion, your continued support of Trump indicates poor judgment on your part. Trump is such a doofus that he gives white supremacy a bad name. Wouldn’t your own goals—much as I object to them—be better advanced by a leader who is not a narcissistic jerk?

Now, Trump and politics aside, the world is full of people whose values are different from mine. And the world is full of people who exhibit bad judgment.

And, as a lawyer I say, thank God that the world is absolutely chock full of folks with poor judgment.