This is the second part of a series of bite-sized pieces of a full 4700-word missive, How to Trump Trump and Make American Greater Than Ever. Read the whole article at KaiDegner.com or check out Part 1: Civil Discourse Won't Fix the Trump Problem.
Let's talk about speech for moment. Speech is speech, right? Words. Sentences. Speech lets people share their voice, express their opinion, explain disagreements, and tell people their frustrations. Freedom of speech is necessary so people are not marginalized, opinions are not suppressed, and government cannot silence its people. But, speech represents a lot more than just the literal words, ideas, and opinions. Speech can represent emotions, values, dreams, and worries. The words people use honor their own experience, their past, their heritage, their culture, their family, and their values. Speaking is an attempt by people to be relevant, to contribute, to participate. People aren't just speaking words and simple opinions, they're attempting to manifest who they believe themselves to be at that moment. Speech is how people show they are alive. Speech is self-identify, speech is Self. Freedom of speech is freedom, period. Thus, when someone's speech is frustrated, offensive, rough, demeaning, angry, or fearful, it's also something else: it's honest and authentic.
Incidentally, that's why people are so concerned about Trump's words: his words can manifest as reality, his words are who he is. That is why the signs in Chicago at the disrupted Trump rally said, "TRUMP = HATE." And that's why there is extra frustration and growing impatience with Trump's apologists, those remaining Republican and independent supporters who give him a pass by suggesting he does not really mean what he says and he will change his language in the general election. Those apologists, like Ben Carson and Chris Christie, are asking people to give "the other Trump" a chance to come around in a general election. If words are reality, these apologists are literally asking Trump opponents to suspend reality and to pretend to be in a world that Trump's words literally do not create.
So, when frustrated Trump supporters are asked to be more polite, to be civil, to be politically correct, what is really being asked of them? Asking them to choose different words, lower their volume, or be less emotional is really asking them to restrict who they are. Asking someone to stop cheering when Trump says he'll build a wall between the USA and Mexico, or immigrants are rapists and murderers, or Muslims should be banned from entering the USA is actually experienced as asking them to not be themselves. And, by not be themselves, I mean not fully exist. Asking someone to be polite and tone down their rhetoric, stop offending people, and be civil can be experienced as a threat to their existence. And, if voting is how people are supposed to let their voice be heard (i.e. exist) in the political system we have, asking a Trump supporter to change her vote is akin to asking her to kill her freedom of speech, and, in some way, kill her Self. That may sound extreme, and likely isn't how many people look at it, but the struggle for many to speak their mind is experienced as a struggle for life itself. And, for Trump supporters, "the right to life" is something worth fighting for -- and maybe not just with words, but with punches or even guns.
Ah, guns. Let's think about that for a second: words can be weapons, right? Guns are weapons. With that, is it surprising that Trump's Second Amendment enthusiasts are reacting vehemently against being asked to speak politely? To them, calls for civil discourse and political correctness are the same existential threat posed by gun control. Asking someone to change their vote is akin to taking their guns away, so they can be controlled and maybe even killed. Calling for civil discourse in this environment is as ineffective as calling for moderate gun control after mass shootings. The calls for gun control aren't just ineffective, they backfire: gun sales increase every time! Is it any surprise Trump's rhetoric continues to escalate and his supporters get angrier and more resolute with each call for civil discourse? These are the same people buying more guns and ammunition every time President Obama says we need more sensible gun laws after innocents lose their lives to gun violence.
See the full essay at my site and/or in this HuffPost entry