Seeking Polite Political Disagreements
July 28, 2016 5:22 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for non-mefi examples of someone disagreeing about the election in a civil manner. Not everyone in the discussion has to be civil, it is inspiring to see someone maintain their civility while others don't. I'm particularly interested in seeing civil Trump supporters - based on his numbers I'd like to believe they are out there. I feel like the Trump request is a good opening for some clever joke answers, but I'd really like to see some non-combative Trump supporters state their case!
posted by yorick to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Even if it's just an anonymized screenshot of your Facebook friends being classy, I'd love to see it.
posted by yorick at 5:43 AM on July 28, 2016

I'm not sure if you are only looking for written examples, but also anecdotes? If the latter, I sat on a plane recently for three hours in front of two Americans, one of whom supported Trump and the other Clinton. They spent the entire three hours having an amazingly civilised and polite (and in-depth) discussion about their politics. I'm not sure if they were actually trying to convince each other of their position, even, but maybe just trying to explain why they felt the way they did.

Honestly, I wondered a little whether the whole thing could possibly have been scripted, because they did all the things people tell you to do when debating politely and avoiding getting emotional - they used "I" statements, and asked real questions, and avoided direct criticism, and said things like, "Well, I guess we'll just have to disagree about that, then", and "I can understand why you think that, but it's not what I believe."

By the end of the flight, I think they both realised they just had a fundamentally different starting point, upon which all their other beliefs were based. One woman believed that there are better and worse people in the world, and better countries (America being the best) and worse countries, and that people deserved to be treated differently based on whether they were the better sort or not (and so followed her beliefs about migration, healthcare and taxes, and even gun ownership so you could defend yourself and your property against the worse sort of person). And the other woman believed that everyone in the world and everyone in America should be treated the same and that it was the role of government policy to facilitate this equality.

And then they left the plane and thanked each other for helping them understand each other's position.
posted by lollusc at 6:08 AM on July 28, 2016 [13 favorites]

Response by poster: @lollusc - My primary motivation is to get written examples so I can easily show others that reasonableness is possible, and is probably in everyone's best interest.

Even with that being the case, the anecdote you provided was wonderful, and I'd love to see more from other people. In addition to the story being encouraging, hearing about the differing "better and worse people" as the root of their differing opinions is the kind of thing that helps me better understand these points of view - far more than thinkpieces that claim to explain it via pitying those poor ignorant hillbillies.
posted by yorick at 7:09 AM on July 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some sections of the long-form article Who Are All These Trump Supporters? may have what you're looking for (in between a bunch of parts that you're not looking for). Scroll down to "Who Are They (Part I)" and start reading from there:
The Trump supporters I spoke with were friendly, generous with their time, flattered to be asked their opinion, willing to give it, even when they knew I was a liberal writer likely to throw them under the bus. They loved their country, seemed genuinely panicked at its perceived demise, felt urgently that we were, right now, in the process of losing something precious.
The "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Noemi" section is especially good, but the whole latter half of the article is worth a read.
posted by clawsoon at 8:13 AM on July 28, 2016

Here is a long dialogue between a Trump supporter and opponent which stays thoughtful and polite throughout.
posted by clawsoon at 8:27 AM on July 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

It could be worthwhile to spend time with media aimed at Evangelical voters in order to get a sense of their worldview. Christian media tends to be more gentle than the ranty Bill O'Reilly stuff, and with a sincere aim towards fulfilling what they see as their responsibility as believers.

I really disagree with Albert Mohler, but this essay helped me understand some of what Evangelical Trump supporters are thinking about.

I still wouldn't say that "reasonableness" is possible, though, when the facts (and disputes over what constitutes a fact) are so all over the place, and the stakes are so high. But I definitely think it's possible to make sincere efforts to get inside the minds of different constituencies.
posted by witchen at 8:29 AM on July 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

Anecdotally, but friends and relatives who are Trump supporters I've talked to simply deny that he's going to do any of the specific things he has said he's going to do, either by declaring each thing to be "just talk" or saying that Mike Pence or someone else will restrain him from doing it if he actually gets into office.

Then, if I point out that this is the complete opposite situation from normal, where the concern is usually with a candidate not doing things they've promised to do after being elected, and that they are betting the whole country and world on Trump basically not doing anything he says he's going to do, they're usually quiet and don't respond.

So these are civil conversations without any shouting, but I don't know if any of it counts as "reasonable". It seems to remain civil because I for the most part will agree with the substance of their criticisms of Clinton and Obama, but say that a third Obama term is about a million times better than putting a candidate explicitly advocating lower wages, trade wars, and fascist social and law enforcement policies into office, and they seem to be subject to some sort of Jedi mind trick where they're aware of him advocating for all these things but somehow consider it irrelevant.

It doesn't even rise to the level of a dispute about facts, because they don't object that he hasn't said the things I'm attributing to him.
posted by XMLicious at 10:13 AM on July 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

This American Life had a great piece in their episode "That's One Way to Do It" about a teenage Trump supporter who is pretty much the model of civility. (He also exhibited some of the traits XMLicious describes.)
posted by phoenixy at 11:27 AM on July 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

This half-hour exchange between Van Jones and an attempted Infowars hitjob that actually turned out rather civil

'Not even my wife knows': secret Donald Trump voters speak out
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:06 PM on July 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

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