Talking to MAGA and Republicans

Talking to MAGA

It's all about who and how

Americans are being played. Forces of evil have pitted us against each other to weaken our society and create distrust of our government, with their ultimate goal being the destruction of our Democracy. Unfortunately, they have successfully turned enough of us against Democracy and each other that they are about to win and we are on the verge of losing everything. 

We know this is all deliberate and we know who the provocateurs are – conservative politicians, conservative media, billionaire-funded think tanks and political organizations, and even foreign actors. Their symbiotic relationship has worked flawlessly to drive fear and hate deep into the minds of Americans. We have had little defense against their decades of disinformation which has been growing in scale and viciousness. 

The minds of MAGA  have been captured, so talking to them is often challenging and rarely ends well – but we must talk to them. There are reasons why it’s up to us:

  • MAGA lives in an information silo – we are their connection to reality
  • They have been trained to distrust mainstream media and the Left
  • They are our friends and family – only we can reach them
  • Talking heads are destroying Democracy – so talking friends can save it
  • If we don’t talk, our divide will grow, making every election  a referendum on Democracy – this is not sustainable

There are plenty on the left that will say talking to MAGA is a waste of time. They are wrong. Not everyone on the Right is stuck in a cult. Plenty have already bailed out on MAGA or the Republican party on their own and they continue to do so. It boils down to who you choose to talk to and how you speak to them.

What follows isn’t a magical solution, it’s a simple guideline for you to develop an approach for talking to your right-leaning pals (each pal will probably need a different approach). 

So, who do we talk to, and then how do we talk to them? The “who” is relatively easy:

  • Friends and family – people with whom you share history, memories, and trust. Especially those who still socialize with you
  • Especially those who do not feel frustrated in their lives – they will have less commitment to their cause of burning everything down
  • Especially those who have vulnerable friends and family to protect (young, any minority, unhealthy, etc.) – they may be more reachable

The “who to avoid” is even easier:

  • Avoid co-workers
  • Don’t waste your time with people you don’t know
  • Don’t waste your time on any hardcore in-your-face Trumpists.
  • Don’t waste your time with anyone online – they are only there to pick a fight

The “how” is much more involved and takes up the remainder of this piece. Let’s get to it…

One thing to keep in mind is mainstream media will always show the worst and the craziest of MAGA, but this is not reflective of all of them. Many are approachable.

Another thing to remember is that many on the right are victims of decades of conservative fearmongering, scapegoating, and disinformation. Conservative fiscal policies (such as trickle-down) created additional societal stress.  All this made folks vulnerable to Trump’s charisma and his pushing them to their cult-like behavior. This runs very deep in their minds, be patient with them – it can be fixed. They were dragged to where they are because of their neuroplasticity, but that can be used to turn them around.

Lastly, understand that these conversations could take quite some time. They won’t be quick chats of talking points and rebuttals – that will be counterproductive. Nobody will flip in a single conversation – think weeks or months (this means you need to get busy). Make your conversations less about politics and more about things you have in common such as community, memories, and things you both enjoy.

If you find someone to engage with, then consider some of the following:

  • The preferred approach is just sowing the seeds so folks come around on their own.
  • Some may be looking for that exit ramp. They need a do-over – give it to them. They need to save face – let them.
  • Understand their point of view so well that you can explain it back to them better than they explained it to you. This shows respect – something many may feel they’ve been lacking for years.
  • Learn their motivations – learn to ask “why” sincerely and curiously vs. condescendingly and judgementally.
  • No lecturing, no finger-pointing, no sarcasm – this will make them dig in their heels. You wouldn’t like it done to you either.
  • Many have been convinced that an inclusive society will somehow exclude them, so avoid those conversations early on. Exclusion leads to anxiety, which often leads to defensiveness and bigotry.
  • Keep it light – there should be plenty of smiles, laughs, and agreement.
  • You can go stern if it is someone you know well and you’ve been engaging with for a while. For example, point to someone in their life who will be harmed by Trump’s authoritarian tendencies. Sometimes a stern reality check is appropriate.

You’ll inevitably stir up some of their usual talking points. It’s good to have simple counterpoints. Again, don’t argue these points or use them to attack – try to gently or indirectly ease your point into the conversation.

  • Trump is not a victim of a liberal witchhunt if the only people testifying against him are Republicans.
  • Wokeness, CRT, attacks on manhood, homeschooling, etc. are all being funded and pushed by billionaires – they want us to fight each other while they take all our money. When was the last time a billionaire did something for us?
  • It’s not black vs. white or anything else – it’s rich vs. the poor and working class
  • Illegal Immigration has been a thing in this country for over 200 years – it was never worth losing Democracy over. 
  • Republicans have been purposefully preventing border security to get us to vote for them and their billionaire buddies.
  • Yes, there are a few “crazies” on the left who want to ban all guns, but most people only want common-sense gun safety laws. Today’s adults didn’t have to go to school worried about getting shot in the name of  Democracy.
  • Schools are teaching the same stuff they always have – billionaires want to take over education so we can pay them to fuck up our children.
  • Fox News admitted in court multiple times that they lie to us  – even about the stolen election. It turns out the “big lie” came from them. 
  • Conservatives love nostalgia – agree with them and mention how much you miss a government that is not owned by billionaires and corporate America 
  • If these don’t come up, then (gently) bring them up: climate change, social security, healthcare, and continued tax breaks for billionaires and corporations, etc.

It’s best to start a counterpoint with some sort of agreement:

  • That’s a great point – I’m also thinking that…
  • I was wondering about that a while back too – then I realized that…
  • I was totally on board with that a couple of years ago – now I…
  • You’re spot-on there – I’m just worried that…
  • I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said last week…the part I can’t figure out is…

Don’t insult them, roll your eyes, or talk with a condescending smile or tone. This will be noticed, it will hurt, and it will stick. Your temporary frustration will confirm to them what the conservative provocateurs have told them – that we don’t respect them. You will be making your task more difficult.

Admittedly, this is tricky stuff. These conversations won’t be perfect because it’s easy to unintentionally insult someone who is already in a defensive mindset. It might be worth practicing a bit.

Replace “What you don’t understand is…” with “I can’t believe they lied to us about…”.

Replace “Wait, you didn’t hear about…” with “I was totally shocked to hear about…“.

It’s not worth severing a relationship with someone – if it feels like you’re going down that path then back off. Change the subject, poke fun at yourself, or return to what you were previously talking about. Don’t get all huffy and storm off – try again another day or forget about this one. Never cut anyone out of your life – they need at least one connection to reality – no matter how frail that connection is.

It would be best to have an informal and evolving plan for each of the people you engage with. Learn as you go, do research on their talking points, and circle back on those topics as you slowly move them forward. Don’t make it about Trump – make it about saving Democracy. Find where they might let you in:

  • Are they parents or grandparents? If so, talk about climate change
  • Are they one-issue voters? Can you address it gently? Is it worth pursuing them? Is it worth them losing Democracy over?
  • Do they make their living off the land or enjoy the outdoors? Again, climate change
  • Have they lost their jobs to offshoring, etc.? If so, go after billionaires and GOP corruption.
  • Do they have friends/family that will be victimized in a fascist country (race, religion, health issues, special needs, etc.)?
  • Do they have family members in the military or who are veterans?

Above all, keep showing them that an exit ramp exists – let them know your door will always be open to them.

Final Notes

Don’t be a dick – it’s contagious.

If they push your buttons then just laugh at yourself or maybe even agree with them – it will catch them off guard.

Never talk down to people – that always backfires. No insults, smirks, or rolling eyes. 

Make no mention or hint of someone being brainwashed or needing to be reprogrammed – this is exceedingly insulting.

No matter who you engage with, always show and practice gratitude and humility – these are the building blocks of happiness and peace of mind.

Online engagements will waste your time.

Always remember that this will take time – be patient.

Don’t think your small actions won’t make a difference – they absolutely will, because, just like the efforts to destroy our Democracy, when it comes to saving it, the whole is certainly greater than the sum of the parts.