In a discussion about how many Trump supporters and Republicans are still refusing to get vaccinated as coronavirus cases surge, Steve from Pennsylvania called in to my SiriusXM program.
He said he was fully vaccinated, and, as a Trump supporter, he had a question:
Would you have the same opinion if Donald Trump was president. Would you still be supportive of the vaccine if Donald Trump were president?
The question itself was very curious. I explained we have no idea where we'd be and that we'd likely not even be vaccinated by now if the Trump administration was in charge. I explained a few other things about Trump's recklessness with which Steve was forced to somewhat agree, though he excused Trump, noting Trump's "messaging was sometimes way off base" because "he has shown time and time again that he is not a politician."
I was fascinated that, with regard to public health, these people think it's all about politics for all of us (because it is for them), and that refusing the Covid vaccine is somehow a legitimate way for "both sides" to respond if their candidate weren't president right now.
I explained to Steve that it's actually about science and about basic competence and compassion. Trump was reckless and couldn't get anything done. Biden is competent and cares about people. There is absolutely no reason — beyond irrationality and hatred — to distrust Biden on this, and every reason to be skeptical of Trump, no matter what your politics are.
And so, I put the question right to Steve, and he couldn't answer right away on whether Donald Trump was level-headed and showed any "care" for people compared to Joe Biden. Then he finally said Trump (and Biden) both did. When I asked again flat out if Donald Trump has shown "compassion" for people, he replied:
Yeah, I believe he has. He's, uh, you know, he has done a lot of things, that, um, shows an extreme amount of compassion and human kindness.
"What? You tell me." I asked. Steve then replied in a way that was meant to make it seem like a ridiculous question — because he couldn't come up with any answers.
"Oh, come now. Come on.
Then Steve tried to change the subject immediately. But I wouldn't let him and told him he had to list the compassionate things Donald Trump has done.
No, I don't, I don't sit here — I don't want to get into an argument with you.
Eventually, Steve said, "I've gotta go."
I find these interactions valuable because they reveal something about these people who are listening and feel compelled to call in and argue, yet have little to say. I believe they're really arguing with themselves, trying to convince themselves, truly unsure about their position. I'm not sure what happens when they get off the phone but they do prove how weak their own convictions are.