Trump Supporter #3 – Guns, Germs, and Steel (OK, just guns, sorry Jared Diamond) (AKA my neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. R)
These people are the single issue voters, whether it be about abortion, second amendment rights, religious liberty, or something else. It doesn’t matter what the whole package is on Trump, or any other candidate for that matter, as long as it appears that the candidate is aligned with them on their one issue and actively working to change existing laws so that their issue is addressed. Anything that doesn’t seem to be related to their one issue can be ignored.
I respect that the R’s have very strong opinions and are willing to fight for what they feel is right. I respect that they are always willing to discuss such issues with me, even though I’ve clearly come out against their position. But the problem here is that this type of thinking is very dangerous and very easy to fall into seeing every type of issue or situation through their one-issue lens. It’s also very easy to bend truths and data and information or seeking sources of information solely to reinforce their support for their point of view. In other words, they’re missing the forest for the one specific tree right there just to your left.
I’m reminded here of one of the most important lessons I learned from studying engineering in college: There is absolutely no point in optimizing any one component in isolation as it does not guarantee an optimized system. This lesson was supposed to refer to a chemical plant operation. Don’t optimize your reactor if the distillation or heating or mixing units that come before and after won’t be optimized in tandem – you’ll spend more money and/or have a worse product at the end. But I’ve grown to understand that this thinking applies everywhere in life. Don’t optimize your exercise routine if you’re eating pizza and burgers at every meal – this will not improve your overall health, fitness, or well being. Don’t optimize your spending on rent and bills in an effort to save more money if you’re then going out with friends every evening.
So, if you’re a one-issue person against gun control legislation, like Mr. R, don’t optimize making sure every person can have access to every type of gun without also optimizing safety and security of our communities, optimizing research funding so we understand better and can make informed decisions about how easier access to guns has a positive or negative effect on society, optimizing screening procedures to reduce gun ownership among people who might do others harm, optimizing funding for gun safety courses and training on their use, optimizing health care so mental health issues can be addressed to prevent people from using them for harming themselves or others AND for ensuring people can have better access to healthcare when they are accidentally or purposefully harmed by guns, etc. etc.
Likewise, if you’re a one-issue person against abortion, like Mrs. R, don’t optimize taking away access to abortion or making it illegal and punishable, if you’re also not willing to optimize health care (including contraception and a wide range of other, proven pregnancy-prevention programs), not willing to optimize education and job creation (because we need to do something with all the extra kids our country will have), not willing to optimize social protection and social safety net programs (because sometimes life happens and you can’t afford a child at this time or don’t have family in the area who can take care of them while you go to work), etc. etc.
Political and social determinants of people’s well-being are interconnected. You can’t just work towards your one issue without it affecting many other facets of many other people’s lives. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that the world will be sunshine and rainbows as soon as your ONE issue is sorted out in your favor.
Tune in next week for Part 4: The Conspiracy Theorist