Here at McSweeney’s, one of our staffers has mentioned that they have in-laws in Pennsylvania, and these in-laws voted for Trump in 2016 and might do so again.
If we all look hard enough, we probably know someone like this. An uncle, an aunt, a former boss, or college roommate living in a swing state. Grandparents! You probably have parents or grandparents in Florida.
It’s time to have the difficult conversation. It’s not enough to decide not to broach the subject. This is too important. And chances are, your relatives or friends leaning toward Trump might not have thought it through.
I’ve been to a bunch of Trump rallies as a journalist, and the thing that struck me is that most of the people I talked to in the parking lots, in the lines, at the T-shirt table, were candid and open to discussion. They were actually happy to chat, and they almost always acknowledged at least some of Trump’s failures and weaknesses. I can’t excuse the people yelling “Lock her up” and all the other atrocities, but I will say that in 2016, a startling number of Trump voters were just rolling the dice. They didn’t feel strongly either way.
And very often people will simply surprise you. Last year I had an hour-long talk after a rally in Hershey, PA, with a couple guys. One was a die-hard Trumpian, the other was undecided and was attending his first rally. After an hour of chatting in the rain, it emerged that the die-hard Trumpian had actually voted for Obama — twice. He’d even volunteered for him.
This gave me some hope that people can change their minds. There are millions of malleable minds in this country, and sometimes they need an impassioned friend or relative to say, “Please, we must do better than this man.”
So think hard about who you know in these swing states. And make the call. Getting that call from someone they know is even better than cold-call phone banking (though that’s needed, too).
If you have a conversation with a swing-state voter and want to write about it, send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need 900 reasons to back up your case against Trump, please read this.