Talking with a Trump supporter

I went into Seattle on Sunday to attend Elizabeth Warren’s campaign event at Seattle Center. I ended up standing next to a 67 year old man from Florida who had gone on a cruise to Alaska and was killing time before his return flight. He said he’s voting for Trump in 2020 and came to hear what Warren had to say. I asked him why he’s voting for Trump.

Democrats are socialist, he said, what with their calling for free health care, free education, guaranteed minimum wage, and high taxes. You know how well socialism worked in Venezuela, don’t you? People are eating from garbage dumpsters. He said the economy is roaring under Trump, with record low unemployment.

He said that Obama added $10 trillion to the debt. I said it was due to the Republicans having crashed the economy, causing the recession, by their reckless deregulation, by their tax cuts for the rich, and by the war in Iraq. Obama continued the bailouts started by Bush. You can’t blame Obama for the first year’s debt; the budget was decided the previous year. By some measures, Obama lowered the debt. The 67 year old guy blamed Democrats for pushing for home ownership for everyone. People working at McDonald’s were getting mortgates for several hundred thousand dollars.

He said that he used to be in a union. He was a supervisor for Eastern Airlines. He said that the union spent more time figuring out how to avoid work than it did actually working.

I asked him whether he’s disturbed by Trump’s apparent racism. He said Trump is honest: he states his mind, unlike many other people.

In short, no matter what I said, he had a response. His responses weren’t entirely unreasonable. They were just one-sided.

He said, yes, he watches Fox News.

I explained that none of the Democrats are socialists. Even Bernie Sanders isn’t a socialist, depsite his rhetoric. He’s a social democrat. Democrats don’t want the government to own everything. They just want fair taxes, adequate regulation, more income equality, and a social safety net. Moreover, Democrats, or progressives, want to stop socialism for the rich. He listened politely to my spiel.

Perhaps it’s useless to try to convince Trump supporters. But I do think it’s useful to convince people on the fence, or people tempted to fall into a right wing mindset, that Trump and right wing ideology are harmful.

Moreover, Democrats need to fight back, hard, against the framing of their policies as being socialist.

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