Black Ops: Life in The Trump Tower of Babel

We’ve got to talk about it. This is what America is about. — Mark A.

The Observation

So here we are America: Donald Trump is officially our president.

We now have a president who frequently refers to himself in the third person (Side note: this is usually a sign one requires mental care). Despite this and other “alternative facts,” approximately 63 million voters saw this guy and said, “…seems legit, what’s the worse that could happen.” To these voters, the other half of the country should stop overreacting and move forward.

For 65 million voters who disagreed, there’s a deep concern as to what kind of a future we’re moving toward. We wonder how can people be so obtuse as to the fact that we are, in some instances, quite literally talking about life or death situations.

Yet another 92 million eligible voters that weren’t moved enough either way and for various reason abstained from voting altogether. In whatever capacity the current situation doesn’t appear to provide anything of merit for my energies in particular or society in general. It’s just not sensible.

Not me. although, it is an accurate depiction.

The Question

The election results and the following events left me blindsided yet intrigued.

After such a vicious election cycle, surely sensibility would prevail. Rage- inducing curiosity got the best of me. I wondered what in the world would possibly allow people to turn a blind eye to what seemed a clear assault on so many lives. Surely come January we’d all be relieved to see America finally decided that even if we didn’t agree politically there are things we’d absolutely not tolerate for anyone in our country. This is America! It appears I was wrong. Which raises the question, how did we end up here?


The Hypothesis

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” — George Orwell, 1984

I’d seen an article about the echo chamber of social media. I wondered if my thinking was just the result in living in my own echo chamber. There had to be a logical explanation as to why 63 million Americans turned a blind eye to such alarming behavior.Were alternative facts to blame? Was it bigotry, and if so was it approval or denial of it’s existence? Maybe both. Or was it really just about the almighty dollar? One thing I did know for sure was that these two groups of people were not seeing the same events portrayed in the same light.

On the left a screen shot of CNN 01/24/17 12:31 PM on the right a Fox News screen shot from the same time. Notice no mention of DAPL on Fox News.

It’s my belief the current administration uses diversion and confusion tactics to confuse and exploit the proletariat. My hypothesis is this type of division causes working class people to spend more time fighting, or worse not communicating with each other and not holding our government accountable to the people that elected them.


The Experiment

For 30 days I lived outside my own political echo chamber.

I followed right wing news sources on current events. I played devil’s advocate in political discussions with friends and family. I told a couple of them I voted for Trump to get their unfiltered responses (this proved to be dangerous on more than one occasion). I followed Trump’s M.O. and took to Twitter saying outrageous things, and observed the types of people that began to follow and interact with me. This allowed me to test my hypothesis outside the scope of my normal environment.

I monitored what types of information I acquired through my normal channels. Additionally when this experiment began I had another person (who is my opposite in every way) agree to do the experiment as well and report her findings — she opted not to continue the experiment. As a result, these findings are based solely on my personal experience.

My hope was that the results of my experiment would allow me to find a way to communicate more effectively with people I don’t agree with for the purposes promoting change through action.


The Analysis

Although my experiment provided a number of eye opening learning experiences, there were two take aways that had a profound impact on me.

  1. We’re all being triggered. — Watching only right wing news taught me liberal outrage is covered as entertainment. One of the most popular conservative news pundits is without doubt Tucker Carlson. He’s popular not because he presents his viewers with facts, it’s his ability to trigger guests on his show. He railroads them until they are emotionally charged which makes them appear uneducated and hysterical. This is a common tactic used to make his guests come unhinged, leaving his viewers to believe he won the argument. I used this tactic in real world arguments. I would present “alternative truths” from Fox News and social media and could without fail, emotionally trigger people on social media and in real world situations. In most arguments the people arguing with me presented statistically proven points, however the more I stuck to the “alternative facts” the more frustrated they became causing them to either give up all together or say some version of “go eff yourself.”

If we are going to engage in political dialogue, we would be well to master the art of subtle political shade like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Maggie Hassan (see Betsy DeVos). Listening, and dismantling arguments using sound logic backed by facts. However, This should only be in instances conducive to this type of dialogue. When we are baited and triggered by every outrage (and it appears there will be many) we aren’t going to know when we should be hyper focused on action items such as calling and writing our elected officials as laws are being made — making it known through our dollars and our votes when we don’t approve.

2. Activate the 92 million non participants and swoop the swingers. We’re spending far too much time arguing amongst parties and not enough time getting to understand and courting the 92M eligible voters that didn’t vote. That’s roughly 40percent of eligible voters that could potentially be swayed either way. Trump won in large part because he appealed to poor working class whites; people who felt they weren’t heard or represented. Democrats would be wise to consider what groups of people don’t feel engaged within this socio political system and speak to them.

The same identity politics employed are not gonna work in the 2018 midterms or 2020 elections. We need to get smart about our message and how exactly we are reaching out to people. If we don’t begin to examine and employ real solutions, people who feel helpless will grab whatever life raft that floats their way.


The Conclusion

Throughout my experiment, I was usually met with one of two extremes by other liberals; outrage or silence.

I get it, no one wants to support open bigotry (I most certainly will not), however, the reality of the situation is that there are some people who can still be reached, and I believe it’s worth it to try to reach them.

I met lots of “leaners”; people who would quietly lean into me and say they voted for Trump when they believed I did. We had conversations that I’m not quite certain we would have had otherwise. These were people in my community — in very blue Seattle. We sometimes take for granted that our friends and family think the same as we do. But if lofty promises of jobs and tax cuts are enough to close their eyes to the cabinet nominations of Jeff Sessions and Andrew Pudzer, we need to be more strategic about solutions. I talked to many people who previously voted for President Obama and who voted republican this time; some of them were black, brown, LGBT and other groups you wouldn’t think would support Trump. Their reasons varied — some I could understand, but the reality is we have to watch what people do, not what they say. Nothing Trump is doing is good for the average American. PERIOD.

However, I do wonder if our blanket assessments of these individuals may be doing us more harm than good. Remember that not every conservative supports Trump. Many in his own party condemned his actions and voted against him. I met with many conservatives who voted (R) down ballot but cast their presidential votes (D)or (I).

Staying open to conversations may be a way to tip those folks to voting/thinking differently.

It’s more than evident that these folks aren’t receiving the same narrative we are. We might be the only way they see the other side of the coin.

As for dealing with folks that supported him, I’m holding your feet to the fire! Many Trump supporters say they like Trump because he’s not PC and he’s unfiltered. I plan on using that to my advantage and CALLING FOLKS OUT! If the President can say “grab ‘em by the pussy” then we can say whatever we need to, regardless of whatever system of fragility has previously hindered us. There are news rules: speak freely but try not to allow your emotions negate the argument.

Do we want to prompt a change or be in our feelings? If we want to flip this thing in 2018 and get better results in 2020, then we must keep the lines of communication open. If not, we’re going to see people continue to look for viable options by wandering into cesspools of misinformation and falsehoods.

I can’t and I won’t speak for everyone. All I can do is give suggestions based on my personal experiences. This approach is helping me get to a place where I feel I can actively contribute to the change I want to see. I encourage all to do the same, so we can reach solutions that lead to sensible living.

if you’d like to see the social media presence I kept it was @HighEnergyBGD

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