Salena Zito and Brad Todd have just published a book. In it they trace the outlines of the political coalition that elected President Trump. I heard the book reviewed on TV last night and learned some interesting things. They interviewed people across five swing states that usually vote blue but went red in 2016. They found a core of people who dislike the President’s style but appreciate the fact that he defends three things that are near and dear to their hearts: Religious liberty, the Supreme Court and the 2nd Amendment.
It sets me to thinking. First, this group is not homogeneous. Those three values are not universal to the group, but the three of them together provide enough of a common ground for them to join forces. No group is homogeneous, and blanket statements about what “they” believe, no matter who “they” are, will always have exceptions to the rule. Trump doesn’t define the Republican Party any more than Pelosi defines the Democrats.
Second, there is an internal consistency to most peoples’ thinking. There are ground-rules, assumptions and values that organize behavior. If behavior in another person seems erratic and nonsensical it just may be that one does not yet understand that inner logic. Unfortunately, that inner logic is usually held subconsciously, so that asking a person straight out will probably not get you any simple answers. It is a pattern that emerges as one enters into dialog. Dialog is essential for understanding. Diatribes and categorizations only divide people further—and to own one of my own such inner assumptions, harmony and unity are way up there for me.
Finally, each of these values is held under the condition of deeper conditions. For example, I support the 2nd Amendment, but I don’t think it should include military-style weapons in the hands of civilians. The 2nd Amendment was intended originally to arm citizenry against government should government run amok, not to give civilians the right to make of themselves ad hoc police. I support the Supreme Court, but I wish the Administration would get its mitts off of it and let it do its work. The intent of the balance of three branches of government was so each would check the other. When any other arm of the government interferes, the Justice Department cannot work as independently as it should. Whether a justice is conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, shouldn’t be as important as their personal character and integrity, their knowledge and track record as a judge, and their capacity for critical thinking.
And finally, I support religious liberty—to the extreme, which means that Christianity should have no privileges above any other religious tradition in our land, nor any other religion over Christianity. If Christianity (of which I am an adherent) cannot stand on its own two feet without government coddling then we’ve lost the game and should resign. This holds for ALL religious traditions.
I share some aspects of the Trump coalition, and I do not share others, but when you dig down you can probably find common ground somewhere, and that’s what we need to turn our minds to rather than screaming Twittered insults at one another.