I am a big believer in love, not just in matters of the heart, but as a tool for political affairs. When utilized, it is the single most effective force for making the world new again.
It was Franklin Roosevelt’s love for humanity that caused him to single-handedly lead America’s fight against fascism. Even after Great Britain’s heroic stand in 1940 against the Nazis, most of the public preferred not getting into that war.
We had an ocean separating us from Europe and were safe from it all. Hitler was an evil menace for sure, the argument went, but why not let the foreigners fight it out amongst themselves?
That was a widely held view back then, held by everyone from senior members of Congress to the youth on college campuses.
But FDR was a deeply religious man, and could not simply close his heart to the vicious empire emerging out of Berlin.
So he invented, out of his imagination, the Lend-Lease program, which dedicated the American economy to producing arms that could be sent to Britain and Russia for use against the Nazis.
Over $500 billion of taxpayer money was invested to help save the world from fascism. That policy, combined with the later involvement of the American army in Europe, demolished the Third Reich once and for all.
Things didn’t have to turn out that way. If Roosevelt didn’t have the love for humanity that he did, he could have easily told his ambassador in Berlin to negotiate a peace treaty with the German government. Hitler would have eagerly obliged, insistent as he was on keeping America out of the war.
And history would have taken a far different, darker course.
It is worth asking what can be done, in the year 2022, to once more bring love back into our politics. For while we are not confronted with a world war, we face immense problems in the ongoing vicious battle between the political parties.
Critically, it is imperative that Democrats change their tone when addressing Donald Trump supporters.
Their current rhetoric emphasizes members of the MAGA movement as threats to democracy, beyond the realm of human decency. What this approach does, however, is only make grassroots conservatives even more loyal to the worst elements of their party. They feel under attack, and are not going to be persuaded by demonization.
Furthermore, it’s just simply not true. We must make a distinction between the corruption of President Trump and the fundamental goodness of his millions of supporters throughout the land.
These people are not a threat to America. They are a part of our soul.
I’m talking about the little league dad who decided to gamble on putting a businessman in the White House; the soccer mom concerned about gang violence and more lenient progressive criminal justice policy; and the sweet church lady who cast her vote based on concerns about abortion and gay marriage.
We all know these people. We’ve met them in our daily lives. The proper Democratic messaging toward them is not to engage in personal attacks but to point out the ways in which Trump does not live up to their own personal standards.
MAGA Republicans went to war to preserve our democracy, in Europe and Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. Trump launched a coup to overturn it.
MAGA Republicans work their tails off every day at demanding jobs, in order to protect their families. Trump, according to news reports, was one of our laziest presidents ever.
MAGA Republicans cherish a traditional code of ethics that values honor and keeping one’s word. Trump promised the working class a new deal, and when he got into office, cut taxes for the rich and tried to take away the people’s health care.
If you want to persuade the right to vote for Democrats, start from the premise that conservatives are good people, and make the case that they deserve far better than a two-bit con man who only cares about himself.
Leftists would howl at such a framing, but that’s no matter. Those Godless Gluten Free Elites, lounging breezily in Martha’s Vineyard, Berkeley, Cambridge and other tony hot spots, know as much about political tactics as nuns do about strip clubs.
The fact of the matter is it was perfectly understandable to vote for President Trump. He made a great sales pitch full of big promises, that appropriately noted the depth of people’s pain.
Bringing his supporters back to the mainstream requires acknowledging that fact. They’re just folks who made a gamble.
To truly unite the country once more, Democrats must explain why that gamble didn’t pay off, and why our programs and policies are the proper way forward.
Let’s achieve victory over our enemies by making them our friends.
What hate destroys, love can make new again.
Joshua Heath is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” appears Tuesdays.