Dialoguing with a Trump supporter, is it even possible?

Here is a case study why political dialogue with a Trump supporter is so difficult. Too many of them speak in staccato talking points and go silent when you ask for their sources or present sources of your own to make the dialogue as fact-based and respectful as you know how.

In a recent Facebook dialogue between a Georgia member of my family (who prompted the discussion and will go by “Georgia” here), my brother “Bob” (his real name) and a woman who supports Trump, who will be called “TS” here, the topic turned quickly from the suffering caused by the virus (i.e., worsening a housing crisis) to the wearing of masks to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus. In that dialogue TS went straight to the cure-all, which was “Gotta reopen!!!”

Here is how that dialogue went, and how it petered out to silence after I painstakingly presented a counter to each of the assertions of TS. What took TS a minute to compose as a hodgepodge of unsourced assertions – all portraying Trump as a competent leader on the virus and the Democrats (especially Pelosi) as the real villains of the piece – took me more than an hour to take seriously, research her assertions and respond to her.

Some will say I was wasting my time, but I am in a waiting time at home now and thought maybe I should at least devote the effort on behalf of Georgia and Bob, even if TS lacked the courage of her convictions or the patience to respond.

The dialogue

Georgia : There is a SEVERE affordable housing shortage that is about to crush us. Lack of affordable housing has been a growing problem for some time. The pandemic has brought it to a head. Both renters and small landlords who need to pay property tax and revenues needed by cities to operate will be crushed if more aid doesn’t come to get us through this in the short term. And then we need to figure this out!!! This has been a thorny problem for some time, now that’s growing and growing!

TS: Gotta reopen!!!

Stephen: Fauci warns that ‘consequences could be really serious’ if states move too quickly to reopen.


Bob: We already reopened with a “guidance if you feel like it” plan. The result is over 110,000 additional deaths in this country. With that said, I think certain areas can reopen, but it is not a one size fits all plan. No matter what the circumstances are regarding the severity of the virus in a given area, wearing a mask in all public places should be mandatory and enforced!! The CDC said last week …if everyone wears a mask for 28 days (two cycles of the virus) it will nearly eradicate the virus. That, followed by testing and contact tracing, can beat the virus. But reopening without strict enforcement will only spread the virus. That is obvious if you look at what has happened in the last three months

TS: A mandatory mask requirement simply isn’t enforceable – unless we were in a police state and I’m sure that would go over well. I wear a mask, but it’s not even enforced at stores that “require” it, Publix etc.

Bob: Stores like Publix can enforce it if they choose. No different than “no shoes, no shirt, no service” policy. The local governments where I live are fining those who violate the mask mandate in their cities. Given it is not enforceable legally, if Trump requested a mandate, then more people would participate. It is his base of followers who are the most resistant to wearing a mask.

TS: Well that would be me and all my peeps wear masks

Stephen: I do think most Trump supporters are not so foolish as to not wear masks, but the hard thing for me to understand is how you can stand by and watch the man outright lie about the leadership he has shown on Covid-19? With almost 180,000 people dead, many of whom would not be dead if he had taken the virus seriously and not politicized it, how can you support a man who runs a video at his convention totally denying what we all remember as coming out of his mouth.

TS: January 31 Trump declared coronavirus a public health emergency- that very day Democrats proposed the No Ban Act- late February Trump asked for 2.5 billion to fight virus- Pelosi delayed it- February 28 Pelosi does her “come to China Town no worries “ thing-March 18 Trump suspended all foreclosures on homes- the rest is well documented

Stephen: It is very frustrating dialoguing with you, TS, because you say your assertions are documented, but then you do not provide sources.

Here is what I find on the assertion that Trump declared a public health emergency on January 31. That is true, but its purpose was to support a travel ban from China. Here is that reference and my following comments will address your other assertions.

Trump Declares Coronavirus A Public Health Emergency And Restricts Travel from China


Stephen: And the No Ban Act, which was indeed proposed on January 31, was not about the coronavirus at all, but part of the (D) leaders continuing effort to oppose Trump’s previous travel bans based on religion. You can disagree that the travel bans discriminated based on religion, but the proposed Act had nothing to do with a ban on travel from China to prevent the spread of the virus. The (D)-majority House did not even pass that Act until July 22 and of course the (R)-controlled Senate killed it.  Here is my source for that.

House Democrats just passed a bill to repeal Trump’s travel bans


Stephen: Then as it pertains to Trump declaring an emergency with real meaning that authorized powerful federal action to combat the virus, that did not happen until March 13. Here is the White House source for that:

Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak | The White House


Stephen:  Between the end of January and March 10, President Trump consistently misled the public on the seriousness of the virus. Here is my source for that:

FACTCHECK.ORG: Trump’s Statements About the Coronavirus


Stephen: As to Pelosi supposedly promoting “come to China Town, no worries” on February 28, I think you are paraphrasing what Trump said in a tweet about Pelosi’s visit to Chinatown. This was the reporting on that, and please don’t call it “fake news” because it comes from the Washington Post:

Analysis | Trump vs. Pelosi: What happened in Chinatown


Stephen: In case you could not resist dismissing the Chinatown story as “fake news,” here is some corroborating information about that:

Trump’s False Claims about Pelosi and Chinatown


Stephen:  As for Trump suspending all foreclosures on March 13, that was true but it applied only to HUD and FHA federally insured housing and was only good through the end of that month, according to this report: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/18/coronavirus-trump-says-hud-will-suspend-foreclosures-evictions-until-end-of-april.html

Although the following report says that the suspension on foreclosures was for 60 days.

Trump orders HUD to suspend evictions and foreclosures


In any case subsequent bipartisan Covid-19 relief legislation has extended the suspension. I’d have to look up where we are on that now.

Stephen: As for your assertion that Pelosi delayed $2.5 Billion in virus aid, here are the facts on that. That story “was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.” You can check every one of these facts if you like, and I hope you do. When your source is the right-wing Red State, you are not reading widely enough.

PolitiFact – Fact-checking claims that Pelosi held up coronavirus aid


Stephen: TS, now that I have shown you my sources for challenging your assertions, would you place in the future, in the spirit of honest dialogue, show me your sources when you make your points that argue for continued support of Mr. Trump? Please.

(End of discussion as TS went silent.)


About jstephencleghorn

My name is Dr. J. Stephen Cleghorn. I am now a resident of Baltimore, MD. I continue to own a 50-acre certified organic farm in Jefferson County, PA that I operated with my late wife Lucinda between 2005 and 2011 when she passed away from cancer. The farm is now under lease to organic farmers and protected by "The Dr. Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez Conservation Easement” which protects it for organic agriculture and against the threats of industrial development that would violate the Rights of Nature. The blog’s name is taken from the writings of Saint Augustine who believed “Hope” to be the greatest of spiritual gifts. And, says Saint Augustine, Hope has two lovely daughters: Anger and Courage. Anger so that what must not be may not be; courage so that what should be can be. Anger and Courage. Now in late 2016, after the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, these are the spiritual gifts that must come to the fore if we are to have “Hope” for a loving culture and a sustainable world for future generations. When I first created this blog it was focused on the extreme form of fossil fuel extraction known as “fracking” that was threatening much of the state of Pennsylvania and many other parts of the United States. At the root of that struggle was and is a struggle to halt and reverse climate change. Now the struggle has turned to resisting an incoming Trump Administration that is an existential threat to the climate with its plans to ramp up extraction and use of fossil fuels. This blog will be about having the courage to stand up to the massive global corporations that would ruin our planet and its climate, take their profits and leave the mess to future generations of to clean up. We need to rise up, my friends, and be not afraid.
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6 Responses to Dialoguing with a Trump supporter, is it even possible?

  1. renxkyoko says:

    I did see pictures of Chinatown where flags of Communist China are flown on top of buildings. I’m a Filipino-American , and therefore concerned with China’s aggression and bullying i South China Sea, most particularly in the Philippines. Read up more on what’s going on in Southeast and East Asia, and what China has done to HoingKong and what it’s planning to do to Taiwan, and the rest of Asia. They have already killed more than a dozen Filipino fishermen who were just fishing within Philippine marine territories. So, please, read up before you make China and its people victims of society.

    • Thank you for writing. The point of my article was not to justify or protect China in any way. I was not even remotely making “China and is people victims of society.” The story about Nancy Pelosi in Chinatown was being improperly used by a Trump supporter, who had been swayed by the way the President twisted the facts of Pelosi’s visit to Chinatown. Read the articles I provided and you will see what I mean. As for China, they routinely violate human rights on multiple fronts, inside their country and all around it. I do read the reports about the Chinese government crackdown in Hong King, and the threats against Taiwan. I am no fan of China, and neither is Ms. Pelosi. She was in Chinatown very early in the pandemic and she wanted to let the people there know (they are her constituents) that she did not think people should fear coming to Chinatown because of what the president was calling (and still calls) “the China virus.” She was pushing back against the president’s xenophobic language. In those days of her visit it was not well known the extent to which public gatherings were a risk for Covid transmission. All these months later we see the same president who attacked Pelosi for gathering people together outdoors invite more than 1,000 people to the White House for his convention on the White House lawn, with almost none of them wearing masks. Trump is not your friend when it comes to China. He admires the “strength” of Xi Jinping and wishes he (Trump) could be “leader for life.” If you want to know more about Biden’s positions, please take a look at this: https://thediplomat.com/2020/07/team-bidens-policies-on-china-and-taiwan/

      Again, thank you for writing. Please read my article more closely and you will see that I was providing no justification whatever for China’s bad behavior. Lastly, I do not doubt you observation that there are some supporters of China in Chinatown, but I suspect there are very few and if they fly the flag of China it is because they are in the USA and are afforded the right to free speech. – Steve

      • renxkyoko says:

        Thank you. I reread your post, and yes, you’re right. My apologies for misreading. It’s just that I’ve become too sensitive when it comes to China matters. I’m no fan of tRump , either.. * don’t get me started “… however, I have to be grateful to him for helping SouthEast and East Asian countries deter China’s blatant and brazen aggression in South China Sea. They have drawn their ” 9 -dash line ” that encompasses 90 % of the sea, up to almost the coastline of the Philippines. They have vacuumed off giant clams in West Philippine Sea, taking turtles off protected marine areas there ( they so love turtle soup ) and have been seen in one of the most protected site in the world, The Tabuttaha Reef in Palawan, Philippines, the last bastion of coral reefs left on this planet ) . Also, Check out BBc news re 265 Chinese fishing fleet on Galapagos Island ! ! It’s on You Tube. ( and on my post here on WordPress) . I wouldn’t be surprised if they vacuumed off marine life in Tabuttaha Reef. ) China does not care about wildlife. It has no compunction in killing elephants for their tusks. ( they need the tusks to make their effing ivory sculptures and mahjong tiles )

        I don’t trust rTump to protect that part of the world, long term. He’d most likely recall the American aircraft carriers if he managed to get reelected. At the moment, there are millions of Filipino, Indian , Japanese and Vietnamese Americans that know what’s going on, and now think rTump is on their side, all ready to protect their lands of birth. ( just like my parents who are “hard-core Democrats” but are now having second thoughts about Biden. No, they won’t vote for rTump, but are thinking of sitting out this coming election , unless Biden-Harris give out their foreign policy re China. )

      • renxkyoko says:

        My parents read the article. They said it didn’t say much about team Biden;s position on South China Sea. I reread the article more closely , and , indeed , there wasn’t anything there on what they’re going to do in South China Sea. It’s just all about Taiwan, and nothing on the Philippines whose population of 110 million are not capable to face China head on, and can only watch helplessly while those sons of … are gobbling up Philippine territories.

  2. renxkyoko says:

    PS… Just clicked the link on your comment…. thank you…. I’m going to email this to my parents, and to my relatives and friends in the Philippines and here in the US who are urging us to vote for rTump.

  3. Trump loves the autocrat Duterte, does he not? Has Trump spoken out against the human rights abuses of Duterte?

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