To Trump, With Love
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
How conservatives and liberals alike could nudge the president away from his more belligerent policies and rhetoric.
By Carl Pettit
For those who oppose President Donald J. Trump, sorting through the swirl of presidential pronouncements can be a wee bit disheartening. In fact, some might liken it to bashing one’s head against a brick wall slathered with hot glue and sea salt, while White House aides squirt pepper spray into one’s eyes, promising clarity when it’s all over. Except it’s never over.
But, you know, that’s just some people. Others might have a different reaction to, say, yesterday’s revelation by Sean Spicer that the president didn’t mean “wiretapping,” per se, when he accused his predecessor of “tapping my phones” in a tweet just 10 days ago and called him “bad (or sick) guy!”
Regardless, rather than continue to sink one’s teeth into every incendiary lure or midnight tweet dangled by the current administration, perhaps opponents should allot a portion of their emotional capital toward baiting Trump instead. The trick here, which the opposition will bristle at, is using love and adoration as the bait. After all, everyone loves to be loved. As the president himself tweeted yesterday to the “rude” media: “Be nice, you will do much better!”
So, if you oppose the recent executive order set to roll back the Waters of the United States rule, don’t merely protest or sue. Instead, mount a devastating social media campaign praising Trump for protecting specific rivers and regions at risk — like the Pascagoula River or Utah’s Uintah Basin. Doesn’t matter if you’ve heard of these regions or not. By tweaking the narrative from strictly adversarial to lovingly inclusive on certain issues, Trump’s seemingly entrenched stance could soften some. Why would he go out of his way to disappoint legions of adoring new admirers, after all? He might even try to please a few of them.
Some might call this proposal dishonest. Others would call it “strategic communication” in service of the greater good. Those others might reason that a guerrilla grassroots campaign based at least partially on untruth could will a more positive political reality into being. Besides, while Godwin’s law states that any discussion lasting long enough will inevitably pop out a Hitler comparison, an endless barrage of Führer analogies regarding Trump begins to wear thin after a while.
For this strategy to work, however, the onslaught of tweet-based love would have to not only come from the masses, but also from famous personalities he’s obsessed with. For example, if Alec Baldwin (who plays the Donald on SNL) and other celebrities critical of him in the past suddenly praised him for defending freedom of speech, including their right to criticize him, Trump might not buck so fervently against the comedic ribbing he’s had to endure. He might actually begin to think about the First Amendment and why in the hell people are praising him for defending it. Better to be in on the joke among friends, instead of the butt of it.
And if an army of supermodels suddenly applauded the president on social media as a champion of women’s rights, reminding him that he (briefly) mentioned investing in women’s health in his speech to Congress, perhaps that would be enough to make him less keen to defund women’s preventative health services.
All this would be an exercise in patience and an experiment in creative realpolitik. But if a little more love and praise pointed in Trump’s direction — grounded in reality or not — can limit some of the hard body blows American democracy has taken of late, it just might be worth a try. P.S. Thank you, President Trump, for your support of the rule of law and democracy.