Grappling with Trump supporters who think that their vote was stolen?

Biden, Harris, and the Democrats know that once they formally assume office, they’re going to have a tough job.

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging, a suffering economy, 14 million unemployed, and trust in police at an all-time low, they have their work cut out for them.

Addressing these crises will not be easy, but it will be made even more difficult by the Trump supporters who think that their votes were stolen. These include both elected Republicans in Congress as well as their constituents.

If the past few weeks are any indication, these loyalists are unlikely to cede peacefully. They will continue to jab at, poke away, and assault Biden’s and the Democratic Party’s proposals, initiatives, cabinet picks, etc..

But we knew that already. This should come as no surprise.

Although many people have attempted to dissect Trumps constituency and seeking to explain who they are, rather than repeat this information, instead I would like to offer some modest proposals on how we can potentially move forward as a country.

From those who voted for Biden and Harris, there seems to be (in general) two polar opposite proposals on how to deal with the disgruntled. One: that we need to make peace with the Trump supporters and find common ground, maybe recognize that there is some truth in their claim, and double down on reading books like The Hillbilly Elegy, to understand their concerns. The premise behind this approach is that this is the only way to “heal” our country

Others like Rick Wilson, of the Lincoln Project say “Fuck the Trump supporters.” The Trumpists are largely uncompromising, refusing to listen to reason, science, or experts. They don’t seem to want to find any common ground, and, some even have the capacity to be physically dangerous. Thus, we must learn how to navigate around them.

Maybe there is some sort of midrange approach between making peace and forgetting about the Trump supporters. The former method is already proving to be very difficult, while the latter may be impossible, as these individuals seem unlikely to fade away. Part of the response will have to do with how much oxygen Trump and his loyalists receive after January 20. If he and his closest allies are indicted, convicted or incarcerated on any of the federal or state charges that have been discussed, this may blunt or alter the way we deal with them collectively. This course of events may also enflame the support base. Part of the response also depends on how his enablers (e.g., Donald Trump, Jr., Ted Cruz, Mark Rubio, Lindsay Graham, Mike Pompeo, or any of the other less publicly visible sycophants) take up Trump’s torch, spinning conspiracy theories of their own.

With all this in mind, one last question remains: How do we prevent something like this from happening again?

My goal is not to convince those who don’t want their opinions to be changed. But I offer the following proposals in response to this question, the effect of which will hopefully be felt in the long term, if we are going to move forward and prevent something akin to a civil war:

To begin with, we should advocate for mandatory classes in critical thinking to be taught as early as elementary school. Some variety of this already takes place, but we need to redouble our efforts to create signature classes in this subject, including national standards and testing that is effective.

Another educational suggestion is to teach civics classes throughout the K-12 curriculum. Students making their way through the public school system should learn about the Constitution, not just by memorizing parts of it, but actually understanding its proper role in American society, what it is and is not, and how the Constitution continues to develop and evolve. Students should also be taught something beyond basic US geography and history, materials that would exceed the sanitized, standard public school version of our history currently being presented.

In order to accomplish both of these bold initiatives, all K-12 public education should be funded out of federal tax dollars, and not be based on property tax or taxes collected at the municipal or county level. We also need to establish a system to ensure that civics and critical thinking are properly taught. (Secondary schools are supposed to teach these skills, but so much of that educational framework is dogmatic in nature.)

Finally it’s time for the implementation of proportional representation (to which I add ranked order choice voting). A winner take all political system leads to too many people being angry at the outcome. It also incentivizes voter suppression in “key” battleground states.

We can talk later about how this approach can be best rolled out, but without these types of policies and practices we run the risk of remaining a country that seriously divided, one where a significant portion of its citizens are too willing to believe the musings of snake oil salesmen and hucksters.

Sure, we should address the bomb throwers and the dangers of the right-wing media, but there are other courses that could be pursued. Although the solutions I offer are not exclusive, they are places to start. They are options aimed to minimize and prevent polarization like we are experiencing now from happening again.

photo credit Mobilus In Mobili, “RVA Pro Gun Rally 2020-11”