How to "Beat" Trump (Again) and Why It Matters

Trump at a rally
Evan El-Amin

There's an old strategy the Greek sophists once used. It's called dissoi logoi. They practiced arguing both sides of an issue.

It wasn't just a game.

It was a strategy for making decisions.

Plato slammed the sophists as a bunch of grifters, but he wound up "borrowing" most of their ideas for his own philosophical work. The sophistic practice of dissoi logoi became known as dialectic.

It sounded more pure.

As voters, we face impossible choices. On the one hand, we can vote for an American blue blood who doesn't care about us at all. His administration promised to end the pandemic. Instead, they covered it up. They promised to make an economy that works for everyone. Instead, they've done almost nothing for the working class. They promised to restore America's reputation around the world. Instead, they're allowing Russia and China to unite the world against us while we fund and justify genocide.

On the other hand...

We can vote for a man who tried to overthrow the government. We can vote for a man who once tried to order the military to shoot protestors in the legs. We can vote for a man who comes from a family of con artists, who've done nothing but manipulate the working class for their own benefit. We can vote for a man who wonders if you can slow down a hurricane with a nuclear bomb. We can vote for a man who was hospitalized with a deadly disease and still wouldn't even pretend to recommend masks. We can vote for a man who has promised his supporters to make life as difficult and miserable for their adversaries as possible. We can vote for a man who glorifies violence and uses dog whistles to greenlight stochastic, domestic terrorist attacks.

What a choice, huh?

For what it's worth, I completely understand why so many Americans are seriously considering a vote for a third party. I'm not here to tell anyone that's a bad idea, or what they should do instead.

I'm here to engage in dissoi logoi.

I'm struggling with my support for Biden. Like millions of Americans, I'm revolted by moderate Democrats on a daily basis now. I'm tired of the blue bourgeoisie lecturing single moms about human rights and decency when they won't even wear an N95 mask to protect a child.

I'm tired of their arrogance.

It really, really doesn't help when affluent liberals talk down to the rest of us about what we owe Democrats. It really, really doesn't help when they tell a 20-something they're doing much better financially than they think they are, based on the latest economic report. It really, really doesn't help when they get on their soap box and lecture us about fascism when a quarter of everyone's money already goes straight to a military-industrial complex designed almost exclusively to repress political dissent at home and abroad.

That said, we need to think long and hard about what happens should Trump regain office, and he has a very strong chance.

Here's what that future looks like:

First, Republicans will ban masks. They hate the sight of them. They symbolize resistance, exactly what they want to eradicate. They'll pass a federal mask ban just for revenge. You won't be able to wear them in public buildings, and your kids won't be able to wear them in school. There's no end to the lies and misinformation they'll cite as "evidence."

Next, they'll ban abortion.

They'll ban books. They'll ban climate protests. They'll ban vaccines. They'll ban drag shows. They'll ban pride month.

They'll ban TikTok.

They'll ban birth control. They'll ban condoms. They'll ban porn. They'll ban anything and everything you like. For all of their hatred for Muslims, they'll basically create a Christian caliphate. It really won't feel much different from living in Iran. How's that for a little irony?

Don't get me wrong, they'll still enjoy all of these things. They'll do it in private, and their supporters will turn a blind eye.

We've already seen that.

There's an endless list of things they can ban, all for a little bit of attention and a bump in the polls. It doesn't matter what states have passed in their constitutions. They'll find a way to invalidate it.

When they aren't banning things we like or depend on, they'll be legalizing everything that makes our lives worse.

Have you heard?

The Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to allow wife beaters to buy guns. I honestly don't know how they'll rule. That's the kind of future we can expect under Trump, more judges like that.

More laws like that.

The most conservative states are trying to legalize child labor.

And child marriage.

Yes, it is ironic and hypocritical to fearmonger about child trafficking and child cannibalism and then turn right around and say it's okay for 14-year-olds to serve beer, work in meat packing plants, and have marital sex with middle-aged men. Republicans excel at this hypocrisy. Lest you forget, Trump has repeatedly remarked that he wants to bang his daughter. Over the years, we've discovered that many, many fine upstanding evangelical men want to bang their daughters, and they want to bang their daughters' friends.

It's their brand.

Republicans will dismantle our climate policies. Green energy won't even get a chance to save us. They'll destroy it.

Inflation won't get better, because none of our politicians understand the root causes. If they understand, they'll never admit it. That goes double and triple for Trump and his allies. Republican policies will send food and fuel prices even higher in the long run. They might be able to engineer short, temporary drops in prices to rally their base. It won't last. Food and fuel prices are rising because of corporate greed, geopolitical instability, and climate collapse. It has nothing to do with "too much money" being printed.

Remember Greg Abbott? He let $240 million worth of food spoil inside trucks to make a spectacle on the border.

Trump adores him.

You might remember back in 2020 when eerie unmarked vans full of paramilitary goons were snatching leftists off the street and interrogating them. That's going to happen again, and there's going to be more of them. Republicans will also start deporting citizens they don't like. They can't deport every single dissident, just enough to terrify us into silence.

Rich liberals will be fine, btw.

Nobody's going to lock up George Clooney or Amy Schumer. They're protected. Plus, it would be too obvious. They're not going to shut down CNN either. Republicans use it in a counterintuitive sense to generate support. Trump needs the liberal media to make him look persecuted. They want the blue bourgeoisie to stay home and hiss at Trump on their phones. Of course, anyone who does anything too annoying will lose their jobs. And in America, if you lose your job then you're as good as dead.

Of course, it's always possible the MAGA crowd gets so drunk on their own power they lock them all up anyway.

Who knows?

You might be wondering how to get other people to see all of this and somehow manage to put aside their deep, deep moral grievances against Biden and his administration. You might be wondering how to assuage the deep, deep pain moderate Democrats have caused by flaunting their disregard for our lives and lying to us about... almost everything.


Maybe you're wondering what you would say to your blue bourgeoisie friends who just can't understand why someone would sit out the next election. Either way, this next little bit is for you.

First, stop shaming undecided voters.

Stop calling them names.

You have no idea how enraging it is for someone who won't wear a mask and won't read studies about Long Covid to then turn around and treat us like we're somehow not thinking straight.

Actually, some of us do know how enraging it is.

Stop talking to single moms and struggling 20-somethings like they're errant little children. They deserve your respect. They're the ones carrying us through this "not a recession." They're working two or three jobs. They can't stand it when Biden or some other politician takes credit for that. They're the ones showing the endurance and perseverance, not rich elites.

Do you really want to piss off single moms? I mean, they're the ones who are going to have to find a day off work to go vote. They're the ones who are going to have to stand in line for hours with their kids, while you slide right through because you live in a nicer neighborhood.

And no, they don't have to vote for your favorite candidate. You have no idea what it's like to be them, and you've never been in the mental emotional space where it genuinely feels like life is just as bad or even worse under Biden than it ever was under Trump. Do you get it yet? They don't have to vote period. They could just decide it's in their best interest to go to work.

Plus, there's this:

Some people just need to voice their anger. Some people need to be able to withhold their vote. It's the only political power they have. When they threaten not to vote, it actually gets a little attention from the administration. They make a slight effort to course correct a little. That's not the time or the place to rush up to someone and browbeat them with liberal platitudes.

When you pile on someone and start shaming them and lecturing them about fascism or whatever, you're not helping. You're working in favor of the status quo. You're undermining the last play they have.

That alienates them.

When someone threatens not to vote, they're telling you something.

They're telling you they need to be heard.

So listen.

Third-party voters aren't idiots, either. They've thought about all of this, and they've made an investment.

Honestly, if more of us were willing to commit and take a risk, third-party candidates would stand a chance. You will never convince a third-party voter they're throwing their vote away. From their view, the rest of us are throwing away our votes by refusing to imagine a better world.

And they have a point.

One last thing:

Stop gloating after every Democratic victory. There's a lot of people in this country who aren't doing well. These victories mean very little to them until they can afford to feed their families. It's deeply insulting. It makes you sound aloof. It tells them you don't know anything about their world, and you don't want to learn anything. You just want them to serve your interests.

That's the nail in the coffin.

If you remember back in 2016, when the world was trying to understand how Trump happened, a variety of experts came forward. They told us exactly what happened. It was a lesson in social class. Liberals quickly forgot that lesson and started coming up with excuses.

They blamed Russia.

Let's face it, Trump is all our doing. Russia may have given him a boost with their troll farms and organized criminal network. Putin certainly wanted a little fanboy like Trump in office to make his life easier. In the end, it was our own stupid decisions that resulted in his presidency. Liberals are complicit in it, and we have a responsibility to learn from our own mistakes.

Let's try...

We can "beat" Trump, but we can never beat Trumpism forever. It's here to stay. Every election going forward will have to contend with the threat of full-blown fascism. I still believe Democrats are at risk of sliding into fascism themselves, but it won't happen in 2024. So, that's the case for enduring four more years of Biden while we figure out what the hell to do. And that's how you might approach someone who's furious and threatening to withhold their vote. Treat them with compassion and understanding. Don't talk down to them like some teenagers who needs to be grounded.

Listen to them.

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