Readers, I need your help on two crucial questions

Readers, it’s been a while since I’ve asked you to do my job for me, but a question after a recent political talk I gave left me without a satisfactory answer. How, one woman asked, could one talk sense to a friend prone to endless rationalization when it comes to their continued support for Donald Trump?

As someone who goes back and forth in reasonably equable fashion with a fair number of Trump supporters, both via email and in the comments section under my column, I have to acknowledge frequently being flummoxed.

I expect many of us who see Trump for what he is — that is, a self-demonstrated threat to American democracy — have struggled with that matter and perhaps given up on ever getting through. We are in a period that might well be called The Great Rationalization, a time when many of our fellow citizens have developed tissue-thin justifications for continuing to support a pronounced authoritarian who tried to subvert the last election.

If you believe in reason and rationality, it is a puzzling and frustrating situation.

Back during the George W. Bush administration, when left-wing types would email to express their worries that Bush wouldn’t leave office if he lost in 2004 or perhaps not even at the end of a second term in 2008, I would reply that that was simply silly. Whatever one thought of his politics, George W. believed in our Constitution, our democracy, and our system of government. As the scion of a well-regarded family with a long record of public service, he obviously would have put the country above himself. He would never have attempted an auto-coup.

But as we saw with Trump’s repeated lie about a stolen 2020 presidential election, his scheming to overturn the legitimate results, his summoning his supporters to Washington, and then his sending them to the Capitol with the instruction that “if you don’t fight like hell” to block the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s win, “you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump puts himself above country and Constitution.

Yet he retains the backing of many who consider themselves supporters and defenders of the Constitution and of American democracy. In part, that’s because they have let themselves be deluded into believing there was a concerted “Deep State” effort to undermine Trump. Or that President Biden somehow ordered the four different sets of criminal indictments the former president now faces.

None of that is true, of course. Special counsel John Durham’s long probe of the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia ended with much more of a whimper than a bang. It certainly didn’t expose a determined Deep State attempt to undermine Trump. Had there been such an effort, surely the anti-Trump cabal would have leaked word just before the 2020 election that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign. In all likelihood, the resulting stories would have sunk Trump’s election chances.

Secondly, two sets of the four rounds of criminal charges against Trump were initiated by county-level prosecutors in New York and Georgia. Biden has no power to order them to do anything. Further, the two sets of federal charges were brought by special counsel Jack Smith, whom Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed specifically to distance the investigation from the Department of Justice.

It seldom matters with Trump supporters, however, when you run through the particulars that should disabuse them of their preconceptions. They quickly retrench behind a different rationalization or conspiracy theory. Sometimes, despite the well-documented fact that the post-World War II economy has fared considerably better under Democratic presidents than Republican ones, it’s the hoary canard that Democrats are crypto-Marxists, just waiting to spring communism on the country.

So, readers, here’s my first question: Have you found a way to get through to your Trump-supporting family members, friends, or acquaintances? That is, have you developed arguments that help clear the conspiratorialist fog that keeps them from seeing Trump for what he is? If so, please share how you made that breakthrough.

I have a second query as well. In the 2020 election cycle, I highlighted several promising efforts to recruit new voters and encourage infrequent ones, efforts that Blue State voters could engage to help in swing states.

Are you involved with such an effort with an organization that you consider well-run and effective? If so, please send me an email about that group.

I’m hoping your responses to one or both of these questions will provide civically useful subjects for columns later in this election season.


Scot Lehigh is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at scot.lehigh@globe.com. Follow him @GlobeScotLehigh.



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