Slow Boring will be taking tomorrow off, but we’ll be back Friday morning with the usual Mailbag. In the meantime, please know that we are extremely thankful for you, our readers, and wish everyone safe travels and a happy Thanksgiving.
For a brief, shining internet moment, not so long ago, the “how to argue with your conservative relatives” genre was a staple of holiday programming. Nearly every publication offered advice on how to deal with your racist uncle or convince your cousin that voting does, in fact, matter.
Then everyone decided that was cringe, which I think is fair because those articles were mostly bad.
It’s also a shame, though, and a bit of a missed opportunity, because one of the most effective forms of political action most of us can take is genuinely trying to persuade people with whom we have personal relationships. But — and this is what was missing from a lot of those articles — that means thinking seriously about who might be persuadable and which issues they might be persuadable about.
I grew up in Greenwich Village and have lived my entire adult life in Washington, DC, after a brief stopover in Cambridge, MA. The vast majority of Republicans I know are, essentially, professional members of the conservative movement. Professional Republicans generally believe that legal abortion is a form of socially sanctioned mass murder and/or that low taxes on the rich, while unpopular, are of such enormous long-term benefit to humanity as to be worth fighting for under almost any circumstances. And while I don’t think that either of those things is true, I also don’t think someone who sincerely holds either of those opinions can be easily talked out of them.
But it’s striking how little of conservative media or Republican Party messaging is dedicated to those points. And my sense is that a lot of Trump voters don’t particularly believe those things. They are, instead, relatively moderate people who are sociologically aligned with the Republican Party (at least four out of the six of white, married, male, religiously observant, non-college, or old) and have exaggerated views about how left-wing the Democratic Party is. The kind of guy who might buy this “Sleepy Joe is KILLING IT” shirt:
And I do think it is potentially constructive to try to convince a guy like that that this picture of the contemporary United States of America is basically false.
If someone at your Thanksgiving table wants an administration that will ban abortions and cut rich people’s taxes, it absolutely is true that Trump wants to do those things and Biden doesn’t. But if the big concern you’re hearing from your more conservative family members is that radical leftists want to curb American energy production without regard to the economic consequences, that doesn’t reflect the actually existing policy stakes.
So for those of you sitting down tomorrow with moderately conservative relatives who are not professional Republicans, but who do get most of their information from right-leaning sources, here are a few points about America in 2023 that they might actually be open to hearing.
The United States has had the strongest inflation-adjusted recovery from the pandemic of any major global economy and has the lowest inflation rate in the G7 this year. Since the pandemic, wages have risen faster than prices.
The price of a Thanksgiving dinner is lower this fall than it was in 2022.
After a huge increase during Donald Trump’s administration, murder has fallen since Biden’s inauguration. We are on track to have about 15 percent fewer murders this year than during the final year of the Trump administration.
The Trump administration proposed cuts to state and local law enforcement in every budget submission, while the Biden administration has invested in local law enforcement.
Donald Trump ran and won in 2016 promising to have Medicare negotiate the price of prescription drugs with pharmaceutical companies, only to flip-flip and abandon this in office. Democrats passed a law to do this, and it’s now actually happening.
Beyond price negotiation and its well-known climate provisions, the Inflation Reduction Act also finally closes the “donut hole” on Medicare pharmaceutical coverage.
The Biden administration has a proposal to extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund and avert looming insolvency. Trump has no such plan (he’s not really a plans guy), and repealing the IRA would slightly accelerate insolvency.
More people are employed today than at any previous time in American history, and the share of working-age people with a job is higher than at any point in the Trump administration.
New small businesses have been forming at a record pace during the Biden administration.
The Biden administration is moving forward with planned expansions of the southern border wall and is fighting court battles with leftists as it tries to crack down on people who pass through Mexico and Central America en route to claiming asylum in the United States.
Historically, though, illegal immigration has always risen during times of high labor demand in the United States, including when Trump was president. Illegal immigration crashed not when Trump took office, but when Covid crushed the economy and there were no jobs to be gained by moving here.
Deportation orders are being issued at record levels, but the immigration court system is overwhelmed by sheer numbers, which is leading to expanding waiting lists.
Congressional Republicans have been refusing to appropriate more funds to address the issue, because they believe border chaos embarrasses Biden and helps them win elections. By the same token, they keep encouraging more migrants to come with reckless and false claims that the border is “open,” because it’s a good hit on Biden and they know they benefit from chaos.
If you’re torn between thinking Democrats are too far left and Republicans are too far right (understandable), consider that the senate map puts a heavy thumb on the scale for Republicans, and they have an entrenched 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court, so a GOP president is dramatically more likely, in practice, to go off the rails.
Republicans are committed to enacting over $3.3 trillion in new tax cuts if they win, which will either cause inflation and interest rates to surge or else force the cuts to Social Security and Medicare they have promised to avoid.