I said I was going to refrain from political commentary to some degree after the loss of my wife, Yvonne. But it seems that the times are such that you just can’t escape it. I suppose in a way that’s a good thing because it’s imperative that we keep talking to each other if our republic and our democracy are going to survive. When I say talking to each other, I’m talking about meaningful dialog between those who have or continue to support Trump and the Republican congress and those who don’t. Recently, I had the opportunity to do exactly that during a visit with my parents in Florida.
My parents and I celebrated Memorial Day with some very dear friends of ours, who happen to be white. There were several members of their family there including an in-law who was unabashedly Republican but also not a fan of Donald Trump. He was a very soft-spoken gentleman who impressed me as very sincere in his belief of the ideas he expressed. I don’t want to call his real name, so let’s just call him BRAD (an acronym for Beleaguered Republicans Afraid of Democrats). I jumped at the opportunity to discuss the issues with him because he represents the demographic that I have maintained in many of my previous posts, must be convinced to disrupt the current status quo by voting against Trump in the next election, in order to vote Trump out of office and save our democracy. He represents the quarter of the white Republican electorate that sees themselves as moderate Republican or Independent. That group is 10% of the total electorate. They are critical to offsetting the gerrymandering, administrative fraud and voter suppression that could negate anywhere from a quarter to a half of the 40% of the total electorate represented by minorities of all kind. In other words, those factors can potentially reduce the minority electorate from 40% to only 30% or as little as 20% of the total electorate. When added to the 20% of the electorate represented by white Democrats, you have a tie if all of the white Republicans vote in a solid block (40% to 40%). We know from the 2000 elections that Democrats don’t win any ties, given the current makeup of the Supreme Court.
That is why those of us who want Trump out can’t afford to write off that group by not considering which of the two dozen Democratic candidates for president is acceptable to them. Unless one of those Democratic Party candidates turns out to be so charismatic as to bring Democratic voters of all kinds out of the woodwork to the extent that minority and white Democratic voters combined swell from 60% to 80% of the total electorate, we can’t afford to ignore BRAD and his friends.
There are millions of BRADs out there desperate to find an alternative to Trump. They are just as unnerved and depressed by Trump’s relentless assault on all our democratic institutions and values, with his erratic behavior, the incessant lying and immoral character as we are. However, unless those of us against Trump and all the Democratic candidates for president and the Democratic Party, have a solid understanding of who BRAD is and what makes him tic, he will not even hear your arguments for Trump’s removal, let alone understand them.
Before I tell you about my recent experience with BRAD, I’d like to take a crack at providing you with a profile of BRAD based on my recent experience with him along with experiences with all the other BRADs I know. A man named Roger Dawson about 20 years ago wrote a book, which I believe was titled, The Art Of Negotiation. In that book, he stated that to convince a person of anything; you must first understand that person’s personality style. He describes four basic human personality styles: The Pragmatic, which is what we call the type A personality, driver type, most likely to be a company CEO, the Extrovert, the gregarious type who always remembers everybody’s name, and is always the life of the party likely to be a successful entrepreneur or top salesperson in his company, the Analytical, the serious pensive type, good with figures and statistics, likely to be an accountant or fact checker and the Amiable, the sweet natured person who wants everyone to be happy and who is very sensitive to everyone’s feelings, likely to be a councilor or HR person. I have found that we all fit into one of those categories. BRAD tends to an Analytical. You can’t give him enough facts and details before he can make a decision on anything. That is why he tends to noncommittal right up to the day of the election. If you want to sway BRAD to your side, you better be very detailed and specific about your plan to right the ship.
Dawson’s concept of personality styles had another interesting insight regarding feelings that relates to the challenges of the 2020 elections. According to Dawson, Extroverts and Amiables tend to place the feelings of others as a primary consideration in all their endeavors, whereas Pragmatics and Analytics place the feelings of others as a secondary consideration to whatever their primary objective happens to be. Republicans, including BRAD tend to be Pragmatics and Analytics and Democrats tend to be Extroverts and Amiables. This is why Republicans are so much more effective at negative campaigning than Democrats. To be clear, you must understand that Dawson’s criteria are not ironclad rule. You will find all these personality styles in people of both parties. But the prevailing collective behaviors of both parties tend to follow Dawson’s rules.
Aside from personality, you must understand the culture that molded BRAD into who he is. BRAD has been raised to believe that tradition is the cornerstone of Americana. Preservation of tradition for all of the BRADs of the world is what defines America and constitutes its identity and integrity as a nation. He sees anything that threatens tradition as a personal threat to his America and something that must be resisted at all cost. In keeping with his belief in tradition is the conditioning he has received almost from birth to never question authority, which for him is synonymous with tradition. He has been taught to look, act, sound and speak as much as possible like everyone else – everyone else being the caricature of what the typical American looks, acts, sounds and speaks like. For him, to do so is to follow the blue print for success in life. Consequently, BRAD tends to be a joiner. He belongs to all of the local civic groups, all the established fraternities and all of the most prestigious professional or trade organizations. Considering all of this, it should be clear that to win BRAD over, you must convince him that America’s traditions have always been evolving and that any seemingly new traditions don’t necessarily replace the old ones. In fact, in a truly free society, the new comers are more likely to adopt the old American traditions over the ones they came here with when they don’t feel threatened by them. In fact, they will become the new BRADs of the 21stcentury.
Getting back to my encounter with BRAD in Florida, that day started out like most outings of the kind with a lot of laughter and discussion about movies, plays and fashion. Somehow, the conversation turned to politics, specifically as related to Donald Trump. Everyone agreed, including BRAD, that Trump was a terrible president and not only bad for, but potentially dangerous for the survival of the country. BRAD’s concern, however, was that the Democrats were going to force him to vote for Trump in the next election. He sees people like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez as frightful, although it was clear from his discussion that everything he knows about her and her objectives stem from right wing Republican propaganda and not at all based on anything she has actually said or done. The only Democrat he feels safe to vote for in the next election so far is Joe Biden. His attitude was such that he perceived himself as more understanding of what the country needed than any of the experts whether Democrat or Republican. He went on to defend all of the policies that Republicans have instituted in the past few decades, that at the same time, he also agrees have been bad for the country. The most poignant example of his conflicted view of the world was his insistence that the newly instituted tax laws that favor corporations and the top 2% of wealthiest Americans at the expense of working class Americans, didn’t really change that tax code at all from what it was prior to the new law. He acknowledged that all the deductions they had prior to the new law being in place were maintained, and the maximum rate was lowered, but somehow the rich didn’t benefit from it. I won’t get into the convoluted argument he put forth to defend his position, but I’ll just tell you that no one there, Republican or Democrat could follow his argument and it didn’t make sense to anyone there. What was impressive in the discussion was his unwavering commitment to defending his party while acknowledging that if the country didn’t change course, we were heading for an apocalyptic future. It was bit unsettling that he was resigned to the apocalypse and saw it as inevitable. When I pointed out to him that the power to avoid the apocalypse was in his hands, but he had to give up his right to be right about everything he believes about his party, he seemed to soften his views a bit. I don’t know if it was a sign of things to come, but just as we seemed to reach a consensus about how we must focus on the things we agree on and not the party lines in the next election, a yacht with a 10 by 15 foot “Trump in 2020” flag on its mast cruised by on the canal behind my friend’s house. We all sort of looked at each other and shook our heads.
I’ll be saying more about how to communicate with BRAD in the future. For now, let me just say that all Democrats whether sitting elected officials or candidates for president need to seek BRAD out where he lives (Fox News and Republican sponsored town hall meetings) to give him a realistic understanding of who you are and what you want. The objective is not just to get Trump out of office, but also to get BRAD to see the Republican congress as an extension of Trump and remove them as well – a very high bar to jump indeed. Make sure you come with details and well thought out arguments as to why you are needed to save the republic. The point I’m making is that it is vital we connect with the BRADs of the world and get them on board with us for the next election. They may be our only hope.