aNewDomain — Here in Silicon Valley, lots of people are angry and frightened because of the actions of the the Trump administration. And rightly so.
But insulting or even verbally abusing Trump supporters is the wrong way to deal.
Yes, it might make you feel better in the moment. It won’t have any positive impact, though. Have opposition criticisms of a leader you support, be it Obama, Bush, or Clinton, ever convinced you to change your mind?
Or did the attack on a leader you supported simply just make you further harden your heart?
The most effective approach to change Trump fans’ minds is simply to ask, and to keep asking, this question: How does this specific Trump administration policy make you personally better off?
And you need to keep asking this question — consistently, continuously — and is many different wordings as you can think of.
Trump fans’ ethnocentricism is a feature, not a bug
We are not going to change minds by calling Trump a racist, a misogynist or a demagogue. It won’t work.
Some of his supporters may very well prefer a whiter, more male-dominated America, where educated “elites” exercise less power. To put it in terms my Silicon Valley friends will recognize, to Trump’s supporters, these are features, not bugs.
But many people voted for Trump did so because they felt that he was the only candidate offering them potential solutions that would better their lives — solutions that included less globalization, fewer immigrants and more jobs for native-born Americans.
For us so-called “elites,” it isn’t too hard to see that Trump’s solutions are unlikely to work. Cajoling a small number of companies to preserve a small number of American factory jobs is not going to help more than a infinitesimally small proportion of people who voted for Trump.
Trump and his team probably already realize this. Their job now, then, is to keep those voters from realizing that Trump policies are going to make their lives worse, not better.
And so they keep them distracted with talk of enemies — be they immigrants, or Muslims or the media or coastal liberals who seem to talk down to them.
Now, I’m not arguing against protests or condemnation of the Trump administration. These are justifiable and can be useful, as we’ve seen.
But reaching out to people who voted for Trump requires a different approach.
And in a year or two, when they are still working the same job — or not working — they will realize the lives haven’t improved by one iota.
Once they have lost the ACA they didn’t know was Obamacare, or their clean water, or their unions, or whatever else their fearless leaders strip them of, they may look up.
And maybe, that’s when they’ll start to listen.
For aNewDomain, I’m Chris Yeh
Cover image: Erin Siegal, Reuters, All Rights Reserved. Inside: Quora, All Rights Reserved.
An earlier version of this column ran on Chris Yeh’s Adventures in Capitalism blog. Read it here. -Ed.