4. Avoid Gratuitous Insults
Avoid gratuitous insults, especially those that imply that people who disagree with you are somehow less American. This should be obvious, but strangely seems not to be. Not wanting to agree that Never Trumpers might have real concerns about the candidate, we get treated to a barrage of pieces explaining they are elitist bubble-dwellers who don’t really understand or care about the country. It feels like I shouldn’t need to say this, but that won’t help your case.
Of course it is always frustrating when others don’t see the world as you do. But winning coalitions need to incorporate diverse perspectives. Some of the most alienating conversations I’ve had this season have been with Trump supporters, trying to explain why groups of ordinary Americans that I know well (Minnesotans, Mormons, Catholics) largely don’t support Trump. Too often, they respond by coming up with reasons why those groups can safely be marginalized. They don’t represent True America in the way that Trumpism does.
I am not suggesting all Trump supporters would respond in this way. But many do. I just have to observe that it’s hard to take a principled stand for “consent of the governed” while blithely flipping everyone who doesn’t agree with you off the boat. If you want to keep people on board the Republican train, “My people are more American than yours” is an awful, awful argument to employ.