How serious should we be about Trump?

Trump hugging flag

If Trump is a fascist, if he’s a potential American Hitler, how do we respond when family members support him? For instance, I’ve learned that a relative of mine, one I was close to when I was growing up, is a Trump supporter. I’ve also learned that another, one I’ve kept closer to over the years, doesn’t like Trump but would vote for him over Hillary Clinton.

Would it be appropriate to tell these relatives of mine that their moral judgment is so hideously impaired that I never wish to have any further contact with them? If not now, what about after he gets the nomination? Am I obligated to threaten that if they affirmatively vote for Trump, and they’re not ashamed enough to lie to me about it, I will never speak to them again?

Is this the point when quietly tolerating the conservative uncle crosses over into refusing to come to Thanksgiving if the now Trump-supporting uncle is invited?

And what if I had kids? Would I be within my rights to say that Trump supporters in my family will never see my children again, because I don’t want my children to be around such people, to be influenced by someone who can be seduced by such ugliness?

These measures seem harsh, but if Trump really is a sui generis evil, then unprecedented and difficult measures are called for. If we’re not willing to make and carry through with such threats, does that mean that we don’t really view him as a sui generis evil? That this is just the latest thing we’re willing to humor for the sake of family peace and avoiding social awkwardness?

3 thoughts on “How serious should we be about Trump?

  1. i’ve thought about this – in the last few months my wife’s favorite niece (who grew up in the same multigenerational household my wife lived in at the time, and who is as close to a daughter as my wife will ever have) has married a trumpista – which we know not from conversation, but by looking at his facebook page

    my wife and i are churchgoers, and at easter time we listen to the words of jesus about the roman soldiers participating in his crucifixion, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” – that is true of most people, really – but whether one forgives someone, and whether one is willing to go to an event where they are also present, are two different issues, really

    when they attend a family fathering, do they insist on expressing their opinion? can you, in a calm way, just say, “my viewpoint is different”? are people using intoxicants? do they have weapons on their person? it’s complicated, admittedly

    one other point – is trump sui generis? no, i don’t think so – he’s dangerous because there are so many other people similar to him – i remember some dialogue from the movie “the zero effect” – “there aren’t good guys and bad guys – there’s just a bunch of guys”

    and then i think about what jacob needleman said in his book “money and the meaning of life”:

    “A Freudian psychoanalyst once summed up to me his vision of the human condition by saying that man is not as bad as he thinks he is, nor can he become as good as he dreams of becoming. The assumption of this book is precisely the opposite of the psychoanalytic view: man is in far worse condition than he believes, but he can become far greater than he imagines.”

  2. I believe that the misguided and morally impaired are most in need of receiving loving direction and correction. I view disengagement as a last ditch effort to achieve such redirection and correction, not as the first line of attack.

    That whole “love thy enemies” business is tough, but it strikes me as absolutely essential. Doing so doesn’t require thinking of enemies as non-enemies. Rather, it is premised on a clear-eyed conception of the good.

  3. I’ve faced a similar dilemma in the classroom: should I openly call him a fascist– or at least proto-fascist– candidate in front of my students? I decided that I couldn’t not do it, and took the “proto” route. No major waves as of yet, but I’m teaching at a pretty left-leaning school

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