If You Had Voted Trump, What Would You Do Now?

In light of recent political revelations, I got to thinking (and I think it’s a useful exercise to imagine from multiple political perspectives): if I were a Republican Trump voter who had become disappointed or upset with Donald Trump as president, what would I actually do?

Would I do anything? Or just wait things out and hope for the best? I imagine lots of us would choose this option. It’s the easiest thing to do and it doesn’t require me to publicly admit in any way that I was wrong about my candidate.

Would I attempt to justify Trump’s behavior? It’s likely that I would, at least a little bit. I likely had a relatively positive attitude of him at some point and that attitude is likely to be resistant to dramatic change. I would also have a personal psychological investment in him that would make me less able to perceive flaws or interpret bad behavior as truly bad.

Would I be willing to continue to support Republican government officials who have defended Trump’s behavior? I’d probably be tempted to if the person seemed good in other ways and still supported political positions consistent with my values.

Would I be willing to vote Democrat or abstain from voting knowing that it would help a Democrat win? Highly unlikely. I would probably have a really hard time with something like this, knowing that I might be ceding important moral ground to my political adversaries.

I ask myself these questions in anticipation of the ongoing and inevitably more-fervent-than-ever calls for political change. If you were in the position of a newly disappointed Trump voter, what would you do? If the roles were reversed and it was Democrat in office, what would you do? If we’re honest with ourselves, we’d probably do a lot of the same stuff.

My intent here is not to trivialize what’s going on right now in US politics — stuff is pretty damn serious right now, in my opinion — but rather to get us to reflect on what kind of immediate change is actually likely in the wake of recent events and whether or not our interpersonal habits are making such change easier or more difficult?

For example, are people continuing to insult and ridicule (ridicule is different than criticism) Trump voters and Republicans, in general? An unlikely strategy to get people to admit they’re wrong, let alone change their political behavior in any meaningful way.

Are people offering Trump voters any political alternatives that don’t have Trump’s baggage but are still consistent with their values? Or are people saying the only choice is to vote Democrat? If the only value-consistent political alternatives are Trump apologists, then my guess is that people will follow their values and we’ll keep getting Trump-y people. Democrats might want to support and amplify Republican voices that are less Trump-y, as counterintuitive as that sounds.

Again, I’m not telling anyone not to be upset or deeply concerned about the state of US government. And I’m not saying that anyone should give up on their political goals. But I think it’s really useful to remember that a lot of the behaviors we’re likely to criticize others for right now are behaviors that we would engage in if we were in their shoes. By all means, criticize away, but I think if we keep these kinds of questions in the back of our minds, we might be able to criticize more productively.