This week I attended the Bridge Alliance Conference in Washington DC. Three of us who attended the conference were being driven to the airport when a conversation we were having led to the black driver from Cameroon making it clear he was a Trump supporter. I decided to engage the driver since the ride would be long enough for a meaningful conversation, rush hour and all.
The driver said that Donald Trump had fulfilled all his promises. I took exception to the statement by pointing out the job losses in Ohio, the closing of plants, and examples of companies backing out, etc. One of my colleagues said that in fact, Trump had fulfilled most of his promises even if they were ill-advised. I think he was much too generous in concentrating on the cosmetic type promises fulfilled and not the spirit of the promises, or the many unfulfilled ones. As an example, healthcare and other areas.
After listening to the drivers reasons for supporting Trump, it seemed to me that they were based on his evangelicalism and his belief in sort of patriarchy I find endemic in many religions as well as certain cultures, After all, Donald Trump received 13% of the vote from black men, an astounding figure given one would have to be blind to miss Trump’s special disdain for black men. But statements like “lowest unemployment in the black community” or “what do you have to lose” while too many in the Progressive elite spaces were derided, resonated with more than many would understand given that marginalized people are simply marginalized in different forms from the left and the right. It is true that one is worse, but a wildcard gets a clean slate.
Donald Trump is a clear and present danger. But he has an entire supporting industry that is consistent and effective in manufacturing a believable narrative for many. That can only be countered with a constant and consistent counter-narrative that speaks to each population segment the Trump machine targets with messages specific to them.
During the conversation, I remained persistent and pointed out the irreversible dangers that Trump’s deregulation, his feeding of the racial divide, that anti-immigrant statements, and other specific topics that could directly affect the driver, represent. I gave him my business card and encouraged him to follow my website and show. Moreover, I made it clear I respected him and wanted to continue the dialogue. When he came out to give me my bags, I made it clear again to him that I respected him and asked him to really keep in touch. He looked me in the eye and said I gave him a different perspective and that he realizes that things are not always as they seem.
I gave him his tip and he said that he would remain in touch. Was his mind changed? I do not think a 45-minute conversation should change anyone’s mind. What I did is open him up by showing him the respect we all deserved, gave some points that will arouse curiosity in all but cultists, and gave him a contact that he developed a trust in that short amount of time. This is something we can all do one person at a time. That one person may be a catalyst to liberate many others as well.