THE BLOG

Trump Voters Can't All Be Bad People - Let's Listen To Them

11/11/2016 16:23
Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx

Well, here we are again. People are reeling. Shocked. Scared. Confused.

And the questions come...

"What the hell is America thinking?!"

"Is the whole country racist?!"

"Is everyone just evil?!"

Remain voters in Britain are finding this whole thing too familiar. Just like in June, we'd seen the polls. We'd seen the support for Britain's EU membership on social media. We'd seen that the majority of people were pro-Remain... just like us.

But we were wrong. And the polls were wrong. And our social networks kept misleading us too. Why? Because they consist of people just like us. The people we're friends with and whose opinions we want to hear are the people we agree with.

And yet still we don't learn. Still we stick to the same conversations with people who agree with us.

Personally, I really should know better. Leading up to the June referendum, when I knew most of my friends, family and workmates were voting Remain just like me, I also knew there was another perspective. With every conversation I had about how much we benefit from EU membership and immigration, I had in the back of my mind that most of the people I knew when I was growing up would've said the exact opposite.

So why didn't I engage with them? Because it's frustrating having to talk to people you disagree with - especially when you suspect (or even know) some of them have prejudiced views. It's much easier to talk to like-minded people - it keeps you sane.

And because, if we're honest, sometimes it's much easier to think in simplistic terms about those you disagree with. They MUST be nasty, or racist, or just plain stupid. They can't possibly have made reasoned, informed decisions and come to different conclusions from us.

But that's clearly not true. And we know it's not true. It's offensive and implausible to suggest that 52% of Brits must be racist, or that the 59.6m Trump voters are all misogynistic, racist homophobes. After all - he got 29% of Hispanic votes and 8% of black votes. And it's unlikely that the majority of the white people who voted for him would've been motivated by racism.

So that means those who aren't racist were willing to overlook the awful things he has said. Why? What appealed to them about Trump? What concerns of theirs did Hillary Clinton fail to address?

Sitting and speculating will only take us so far. I'm not a political expert. But even if I were... it's only by having proper, in-depth conversations with Trump supporters that those of us who find him abhorrent will properly understand.

However comforting we find it to live in our bubble, clearly it doesn't reflect the reality of the world we live in. We need to start building bridges and stop isolating ourselves from those who disagree with us.

This isn't just about learning to accept the difference of views. It's also about trying to understand where people are coming from. To be clear - it's not about accepting or condoning racism, sexism and homophobia. Rather, it's about learning why, in spite of some Trump (and Brexit) supporters showing those traits, they were such popular causes that they were successful in a democracy.

If we start to listen - properly listen, without premature judgement - who knows what we'll find out? I'm willing to predict we'll discover that people have lots of legitimate concerns; that we can respect the people we disagree with; and perhaps most importantly, that we have far more in common than we realise. That maybe even, in the words of the late Jo Cox MP, we have far more in common with each other than things that divides us.

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