Thanksgiving Dinner: Keep Your Friends Close, but Your Enemies Closer

November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving dinner is not the time to dismiss Trump voters from the family.  Now more than ever, we need to listen and learn from them while strategizing our comeback. In one of my favorite movies, the “Godfather II,” Michael Corleone famously quipped, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”  My late mother, Doris K, also thought this was pretty good advice! While our relatives and colleagues are not our enemies, in the case of Trump, they are supporting a man who’s determined to destroy values and principles we hold dearly. 

That’s why for many liberals, myself included, the election of Donald Trump is a bridge too far.  We’ve struggled to understand how a man who ran such a divisive campaign could get elected to the highest office in the land.  We wondered how our friends and family members who voted for Trump could over look so many glaring flaws.  How was it okay with them that he proposed banning an entire group of people who practice a certain religion from entering the country?  Did they not hear the reports of how he defrauded people out of their money at his so-called university, or how he cheated contractors out of money owed to them?  Did they not see the tape in which he boasted of grabbing women’s genitals? 

As I struggled with these questions and more, it suddenly dawned on me that it was only four years ago that the shoe was on the other foot. That while I was rejoicing in the re-election of President Obama, my friends and colleagues who voted for Mitt Romney were behaving like people who’d been hit with a flash grenade, walking around dazed and bewildered.   Four years ago, I knew why my Republican friends and colleagues were so confused. They had consumed only Fox News and bogus Fox News Polls, and lived in an echo chamber that reverberated Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity all day long.

Now, it was time for me to accept the truth that I had made the same mistake–that I and many of my progressive friends had become what conservatives call liberal elites—we consumed the polls and news reports of our liberal-leaning news channels and pundits! I didn’t want to believe what my friends and family members who lived in places other than New York, Los Angeles and Chicago were telling me about the sentiments of their coworkers and neighbors. And after all, I too, was a part of the liberal voices spewing my opinions on cable and network news as both an unofficial Clinton surrogate and a commentator. So, although I was aware of conservative points of view, reading National Review and World Net Daily was not at the top of my list.

Things are different now. The results are in. I did the math. Clinton won the popular vote but that’s not enough to win the White House. It’s clearer than ever to me that if Democrats are to regain power, we must better understand the voters who turned their backs on the party and voted Trump.

This means instead of dismissing their opinions as uniformed, we need to listen to them and try to understand their complaints and grievances; instead of uninviting friends and relatives (or getting ourselves uninvited) from Thanksgiving dinner, we need to talk more to people who hold opposing views.  We need to read what they read, watch they watch and even if we still disagree with 99 percent of it, at least we’ll better understand the emotions and reasoning behind their decisions.  On this Thanksgiving, we need to break bread with our family and friends who voted for Trump. We should consider it an intel mission. We are collecting valuable information that we can later use as we formulate our strategy for winning in 2018 and 2020. And don’t fret, the Democrats will be back–bigger, stronger and strategically poised to uphold the values and principles that already make America great.

And for the Democrats who voted for Trump, consider Michael Corleone’s warning about disloyalty: “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again.”  To keep the dinner conversation interesting, don’t hesitate to remind your Trump supporters–guests– about what happened to poor Fredo when he ignored that advice.

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