Editor: This is a moment when we need to be organizers.
Imagine you were sitting across the table at Thanksgiving from your relative or friend who voted for Donald Trump. You may be tempted to ignore them, yell at them or flick turkey at their heads.
Instead, try talking to them.
We know Trump is likely to betray many of his own voters by siding with big corporations. It’s important that we test how to bring Trump voters (especially those who voted previously for Obama and Bernie Sanders in 2016) around to our side.
Ask the Trump-voting relatives or friends these questions:
• Why did you vote for Trump?
• When you think about the future, what do you worry about?
• I feel like Wall Street banks have too much control over our economy. We’re on the verge of a meltdown because of their bad decisions. What do you think the solution is?
• One thing I think about with all the talk about repealing the Affordable Care Act is that bureaucrats at insurance companies would get even more power to make life-or-death decisions. What do you think about big insurance and out of control pharmaceutical manufacturers?
• Republicans in Congress want to pass legislation that would cut hundreds of dollars a month from most Social Security checks. Why do you think they want to do that?
• How would that impact your life?
• The ones I blame most for the economic situation we are in are the corporations that bought our government and sold out our jobs. Don’t they seem like the biggest enemy?
• I think many Democrats have lost their way too. If you could tell them anything, what would you tell them?
Listen to the answers, listen as hard as you can for places where it turns out they agree with Democrats.
It’s not going to be easy. Listening is one the hardest and most essential acts of organizing.
I believe that different people voted for Trump for different reasons. Some are die-hard Republicans whose views will never change.
But many others voted for him because, like us, they see people struggling to pay their bills. They see the economy is rigged for those at the top and our democracy is corrupted by big money influence. They see people are struggling with maxed out credit cards, student debt and health issues ranging from cancer to heroin addiction.
Donald Trump conned many people with a warped version of democratic populism that played on fears and pretended only he could change the system.
He will betray them.
But, Trump has afforded we progressives the opportunity to understand how to tell a more compelling story, win and lead.
It’s going to be hard. It may be uncomfortable. But together we can build a whole new group of voters, united and ready to challenge corporate power, un-rig our economy and fix our broken economy.
It all begins now.