Why I regret writing about trying to understand Trump supporters

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about how I was done trying to understand Trump supporters after having spent four years at it. While I try to only write things I am proud of, I occasionally write something that doesn't sit well with me after it's published. This is one of those times.

I have messages in my inbox from people thanking me for that piece, saying it helped them understand their loved ones better, so I know some people found some parts of it helpful. But ultimately, I would take it back if I could. Please bear with me while I try to explain why.

My goal as a writer is to put stories and ideas out into the world that will, in some small way, help humanity progress toward a better future. Sometimes that means writing something positive that lifts people's spirits and gives them hope. Sometimes it means writing about injustices and hardships that need to be brought into the light and better understood. Sometimes it means challenging the status quo and helping people see things in a different way.

It also means avoiding things that I think are ultimately counterproductive to progress. While I don't shy away from tackling issues, I avoid writing about partisan politics because I see our two-party system as inherently divisive. I try to avoid writing about specific politicians as well, unless they've done something praiseworthy. There are more than enough political pundits putting out hot takes these days, and I have no desire to add my voice to that fray.

These past four years, however, have tested my convictions on these fronts, both internally and externally.


Issues that should not be considered partisan or divisive have become so in the eyes of many, making it nearly impossible to have a conversation that doesn't devolve into labels and generalizations and assumptions. When I write about racism or climate change or human rights—even basic public health at this point—I'm automatically placed into a political box, despite having never aligned myself with any political party. Even if I write about objective reality and verifiable fact, I'm placed into a political box, despite that making no sense whatsoever.

Labeling and categorizing is a natural tendency that's easy to slip into, especially in our current climate. But all it does is create an "us vs. them" filter on everything we discuss. I think that's the point of most political rhetoric, actually. "Us vs. them" is the simplest way to gain political power. Demonizing and "othering" make it easy to maintain.

The sneaky thing is that once that tendency takes hold, it starts to feel not just right, but righteous to "other" the people we see as on the wrong side of history or democracy or justice. It can even feel necessary and truthful to put them in the "other" category. Then it starts to feel okay to state the truth about them more and more harshly. Then we throw some potshots in, because those people deserve it. It so easily escalates from "they're wrong" to "they're insane" to "they're evil."

That's literally how everyone justifies division, on every "side," in every political system. But where does that lead us in the long run?

Whenever divisions seem intractable, I like to zoom out and look at the big picture. It's not like we haven't seen what we're seeing now in various times and places throughout history, from toxic partisanship to populist demagoguery. So the real root of the problem isn't the individual people or politics we keep arguing and complaining about, but something more fundamental.

In my opinion, the root cause of nearly all of our issues is people's inability or unwillingness to recognize that we are all "us." The lack of recognition of our essential oneness as human beings is manifested in all kinds of "othering"—racism, sexism, xenophobia, religious prejudice, political party prejudices, and so on and so on. But no matter the form, the root of most human problems is the "othering" of a group of people. My group = good. Other group = bad. So simple, but so wrong, every time.

I talked in my Trump supporters post about people wanting problems and solutions to be simple, but I should have been clearer that none of us is immune to that pull. We are all tempted to jump down the "us vs. them" hole because problems are simpler down there. It's easier to think in dichotomous groups and "sides" than to wade through complex ideas and nuanced beliefs on an individual level. Everything in our political discourse is designed to draw us into that hole.

And I allowed myself to fall in when I wrote that piece. I made Trump supporters a "them," and by doing so, perpetuated the very thing I see as the root of the problem. I fed the beast I was fighting while trying to fight it.

In the big picture, the beast isn't one individual with power or one political party or the people who support both of those things, no matter how it may appear in this era. The beast is the human tendency towards prejudice—a tendency that we have to overcome in ourselves and convince others to overcome in themselves.

How to get people to understand this is the challenge. But I know that categorizing a group of people in a way that they feel belittles or insults them isn't going to get us where we need to go, no matter how justified it feels. It's just not.

Cynicism about the redeemability of our fellow Americans won't get us where we want to go, and writing off millions of human beings will just have us living in perpetual limbo. Lasting solutions to our problems aren't going to be found in political boxes, and they aren't going to be found down an "us vs. them" hole, either.

We all have to decide how we are going to use our voice and how we're going to contribute to humanity's progress. I'd rather focus on the universal truths at the heart of the issues we face and work toward solutions in that way, rather than analysis of the political labels and ideological "sides" that only serve to divide us further.

Pexels
True
Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Photo by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash
gray steel 3-door refrigerator near modular kitchen

There's more to keeping a green kitchen than recycling your yogurt containers or opting to store your leftovers in glass Tupperware. Little things, like your trash bags, can add up, which is why it's important to try to reduce your footprint as much as possible. Fortunately, these sustainable kitchen products make it easy keep a green home!

Reusable Silicone Baking Cups



Reusable silicone cupcake liners save you money on having to buy disposable paper cupcake wrappers every time you bake. These sustainable cupcake liners are just as festive as anything you would throw away. Because the liners are made with a sturdier silicone, they can be used for other purposes, like arts and crafts projects.

Amazon Basics, $7.99 for a pack of 12; Amazon

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less
via GoFundMe

One of the primary jobs of being a parent is setting a good example and teaching your children right from wrong. 18-year-old Helena Duke caught her mother being a terrible role model and, in a powerful reversal, punished her for it publicly.

What else can you do after catching your mother harassing a Black woman while attempting to overthrow the U.S. government?

It all started when Helena's mother, Therese Duke, claimed she was going to visit Helena's aunt to accompany her for a medical procedure. However, Helena suspected she was really going to Washington, D.C. to attend the "Stop the Steal" Trump rally near the White House.

Keep Reading Show less
via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

Keep Reading Show less