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How to Talk with a Republican

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Break with Talking Points: Talk about fears one by one

The Donald Trump phenomenon is fueled by fear—this we know.

Now that the Wait-This-Is-A-Joke period is over and the Fascists-In-Training period has begun, would we be better served addressing those fears head-on rather than pointing again and again to the incoherence of the candidate?

Mano a mano, as it were.Republican-20160304

What are the fears lodged in the Republican brain? We hear them from all the candidates: out of control immigration, an economic and political system rigged to benefit plutocrats, Christendom (as a geopolitical/cultural/social power) gasping for breath, whites are on their way toward being just another race if not minority status, the list goes on, of course.

One of the great early proponents of Christianity—a man not in favor with today’s Evangelical base—talked a lot about caring for the neighbor. Jesus said that after loving God with all your passion, the second most important thing was to love your neighbor. Could this thing Jesus said actually address fear without playing into the hand of an inchoate, would-be strongman?

A discussion about gut-level fears will descend into jobs and what it means to be treated fairly and irrational fever dreams about those we don’t know. It’s likely such talk would be politically incorrect—and we need to welcome that. On the other side of published Talking Points is a smoke-filled room where personal decisions get made even as friends and family hash out details. That’s where citizens need to hang out: telling truth as best we know it, from our perspective, not from the perspective of party bosses or mercenary haters, but from a hope-filled vision of people filled with neighborly love for all.

Naïve? Yes, of course. But sometimes naïve wins—just ask that pariah Jesus.

But look—this is gonna be messy. Let’s do this before we all start wearing yellow badges to stand with whatever group is in the crosshairs of Trump In Chief.

###

Dumb sketch: Kirk Livingston

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15 Responses

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  1. Huge undertaking, that (smile). The explanation I have come to resonate with is how for many Republicans, change is happening much too quickly and is challenging far too many presuppositions. For example, if immigration happens gradually over a long period of time, no alarm bells go off and most of the populace feels a sense of acceptance and even welcome for new Americans. They can be absorbed and ‘taught how to be American’. If/when wholesale numbers of economic refugees from a particular culture (i.e. Irish during the Potato Famine) land en masse, the status quo feels threatened that their widely-held and cherished values will take over (i.e. Roman Catholicism will overwhelm the landed Protestant majority). Likewise, global warming/climate change threatens what’s come to be seen as ‘normal’; same goes for LGBT rights/marriage/adoption; honouring of diverse religions/cultures seems to be overtaking an honouring of Judeo-Christian traditions, etc etc. Progressives actually seek out change, while cultural conservatives cherish the America they feel covetous about. Many Republicans find change so upsetting, they want a leader who will hold onto what is familiar and get rid of what isn’t, even if it has to be done using extreme methods. The fact of the matter is, ever since being founded by a violent revolution, the United States of America has never stayed the same–ever. It’s single-most constant is change. It is a constantly evolving and changing country. Maybe Republicans should consider moving to Mongolia or rural Siberia. I always enjoy your provocative posts, Kirk.

    weisserwatercolours

    March 4, 2016 at 11:19 am

    • Lance, thanks for your note. I’m with you on your analysis. I find myself seeking out change (to a degree, I suppose) and I’m excited about the new possibilities. I wrote this partly because I am honestly fearful about what we are becoming. The worst part is Trump is only voicing the unsaid fears residing in the minds of many of my fellow-citizens. He has certainly opened a festering sore. Thanks again for commenting.

      kirkistan

      March 4, 2016 at 11:38 am

  2. Love this exchange between the two of you, Kirk. I wish you could be one of the debate moderators. Maybe we could start healing some of this horrible suspicion, intolerance, ignorance, etc. It’s pretty depressing watching people who hope to become president allude to parts of their bodies that would come up (maybe) in a men’s locker room. argh. Thanks for sharing.

    • Laura you are wicked funny. I wonder what will happen next? But, like that old poet-king said, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers….For they will soon fade like the grass….” I’m with that guy.

      kirkistan

      March 4, 2016 at 5:18 pm

  3. I like how you always get to the crux of the issue without devaluing peoples’ real fears. Laura’s right, you should be moderating!
    My parents were liefelong conservative Republicans, my mother from a very conservative Christian upbringing, and I believe they would be mortified by the current public discourse. They very much believed that you lived your values and did not publicly demonize or isolate others who believed differently.
    I really don’t understand how we’ve ended up here…(K)

    memadtwo

    March 5, 2016 at 6:27 am

    • Thanks, Kerfe. My parents and grandparents are/were similar to yours. I was more conservative for a long time until I started realizing how easily groups of people are swayed by groupthink. Sometimes I wonder if our eagerness for entertainment has morphed into something that actually threatens us now? Thanks for commenting.

      kirkistan

      March 5, 2016 at 7:53 am

      • I think you’re right about the entertainment aspect…

        memadtwo

        March 5, 2016 at 3:07 pm

  4. Love your blog!

    adeebashaheen31298

    March 7, 2016 at 11:33 am

    • Thank you, Adeeashaheen31298. I appreciate that. Your blog looks interesting too–is it interviews with writers? All kinds of writers?

      kirkistan

      March 7, 2016 at 11:40 am

      • Yes! Writers of all kinds! Mostly I have published interviews with authors whose books have been read by me! I’m trying to reach out to columnists, debaters and photographers as well 🙂

        adeebashaheen31298

        March 7, 2016 at 11:43 am

      • Sounds great–I signed up. Hearing authors and other creative folks talk about how they work is very motivating for me.

        kirkistan

        March 7, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      • Thank you so much 🙂 It’s my pleasure that the contents on my blog are inspiring you 🙂

        adeebashaheen31298

        March 7, 2016 at 12:21 pm


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