Imagine you're sitting with friends on a relaxing weekend night, after a long week of studying, and everything is going well until someone makes a slight side comment about the upcoming election. The conversation stops as the room realizes it's divided, and a massive argument breaks out.
Many students who heavily disagree with everything President Donald Trump stands for find themselves in this situation. Someone they are close to suddenly has a new light shone on them when they reveal who they are voting for. For those students who want to talk them down and explain why they should not vote for him, you can’t, and here is why.
Trump supporters have a case of Stockholm syndrome, which is when a kidnapee falsely believes that their kidnapper is doing something for their own good.
“Trump controls his following much like a captor compels his hostages. He holds them with media frenzy and his personality cult while making promises that their release will come soon,” wrote Yale University associate professor of psychology Joan Cook.
Although one’s first approach might be to calmly explain to a Trump supporter why climate change is real or why Black Lives Matter is a crucial movement, Trump’s following has been brainwashed by his claims that science isn’t real or that he has done more for Black Americans than any other president.
One should expect personal attacks in this argument. We have a president comfortable with making fun of those with mental disabilities, objectifying women and defending white supremacists. Trump supporters could easily follow suit and throw your gender, race, sexuality or any personal fact about you in a negative light as a defense of their views.
“In the meantime, he demeans, vilifies and puts people down, giving voice to his follower’s anger but also humiliating and taking advantage of them,” Cook said.
This is not to say that all those voting for Trump are doing so strictly because they agree with his conspiracy theories. Some are voting for Trump because they believe that’s what is best for the economy. What they don’t understand — or what they don't care about — is that by focusing solely on that while voting, they are risking the freedoms and equal rights of millions.
Anyone passionate about politics will want to win the argument and help their friends understand. When someone so blatantly dismisses everything you believe in by claiming you’re too emotional and you have to fight the urge to bring up every statistic and every article that proves them otherwise, you can’t. They won’t listen and will keep regurgitating every false fact Trump has proudly pronounced.
If you find yourself in this kind of a situation, stand your ground. Although these arguments usually turn ruthless, stay as calm as you can. As we have seen in the presidential debates, yelling over each other leads to no resolution. Keep sticking by your points, avoid any physical confrontation and know that it will be over eventually.
Their arguments will soon hold no power when the man causing them is out of office. You can’t always win the argument, but you can win the election. Do your part and hold those around you accountable for doing theirs too.
Maggie Mulligan (she/her) is a sophomore studying recreational therapy and theater. She is a member of the RedStepper Dance Team, Gamma Phi Beta sorority and the Panhellenic Association Diversity and Inclusion board.