Top Video of 2016 #7: Jim Gaffigan Says Liberals Are Wrong to Dismiss Trump Supporters

This election has scored high for entertainment value, but it's put our humanity through the mill. Comedian Jim Gaffigan is here to talk some sense back into us as people, rather than voters.

Jim Gaffigan:  If you have a problem with the patriarchy or with white people you‘d look at me and you’d go this guy invented white people because he’s so white. He probably invented slavery. He probably was resistant to women voting. So the weird thing is I do feel like sometimes even people talking about Trump or some outlandish conservative opinion will kind of present things to me that are like well, you know, some people don’t support gay marriage like you maybe. And I’m like just because I look, you know, like a prototypical white guy villain who wants to kick immigrants out I’m not. I mean that’s a form of bigotry. Anyway, I’m a great guy.

I grew up in a small town in Indiana and I feel as though living in New York or in LA or even Chicago there is this dismissiveness to people with different opinions where rather than explaining our point of view we’d rather be right. John Kerry was running for president versus Bush there was this – I feel like there was this collective thing like anyone who votes for Bush is an idiot. And I’m like that’s not how you convince people to – that’s not how you persuade someone. And I feel like being from a red state or from a flyover area that sometimes people on the East Coast or in LA there is this dismissiveness of people that hold differing viewpoints. Rather than having a discussion there’s just kind of like well they’re morons. And the thing that worries me about people that are supportive of Trump or angry about Trump there’s this absence of dialogue. Instead saying to someone that supports Trump like what is it? What is it that you like?

There is this self-satisfaction of like you’re an idiot. And that’s not how you convince someone. And I think that there’s also this kind of denial that I think we exist in when it comes to Trump or people of radical opinions that we emotionally disagree with is that there are moments when they talk. Where we go, well that’s a decent point. But we never admit to that. When Trump talks, when he gives speeches because everyone watching this has watched Trump. I mean I stopped working to watch him because it’s entertainment. It’s not as if he’s not articulate at communicating an idea. It’s not that there aren’t moments that we don’t identify with some of his ideas. Overall again emotionally we might disagree wholeheartedly but we might identify with some of the fear. We might identify with the sheer raw kind of like I don’t want to lose. I want greatness. We all identify. That’s not that foreign. It’s not speaking a different language. But I think there’s also some geography that we forget that I think that sometimes there is similar to how we get our news like there’s people that watch Fox. There’s people that watch MSNBC. I’m a news junkie and there was a time when I brought up yeah, Fox news and my friends were like how dare you watch that.

And I’m like I would go to the Soviet Union when it still existed. It doesn’t mean I’m a Marxist, you know. It doesn’t mean I support communism. I just think it’s weird that I – maybe I personally – I like having friends that like comedians that I perform with that open for me on the road. I had a guy who was a libertarian and then the next guy who opened for me was an Occupy Wall Street guy. And all three of us are friends. I kind of like people with different opinions. And I’m not dismissive of – I mean I might casually say you’re crazy but I mean I love these people and I also learn from them. So anyway, my point is I’m a great guy.

As the 2016 Presidential election draws nearer, the divide seems to be widening between Team "I’m With Her" and Camp "Make America Great Again", with plenty of desperate support still behind the "Giant Meteor 2016 (Just End it Already)" faction.


One side calls the other ‘crooked elitists’, and the other fires back with ‘uneducated racists’, only this exchange rarely happens in the same room. Democrats and Republicans vent their frustrations in separate homes, separates states, and symbolically in separate worlds. Comedian (and all-round great guy) Jim Gaffigan takes issue with this. He lives in New York City, where the berating and shaming falls most heavily on Trump supporters, but he grew up in a small town in Indiana, a red state, so he has a valuable dual perspective.

He laments the absence of dialogue between Trump and Clinton supporters and – from his viewpoint within a blue state – there’s a blanket dismissiveness of the ideas from the so-called fly-over states. Many democrats, when they hear ‘Trump’ or ‘red state’ immediately think ‘moron’, and shut down any potential dialogue.

Dismissing people, or insulting their beliefs, isn’t how you convince someone that your argument is the valid one, says Gaffigan. Science journalist Michael Shermer seconds this motion, and has spoken to Big Think about how to talk to people whose beliefs oppose yours. Specifically when your position is based in science, reason, and critical thinking, and the other person’s is based in emotion.

"If you attack somebody pretty aggressively and you don’t treat them with respect, the wall goes up. Cognitive dissonance kicks in," Shermer says. "[They think] ‘These are my beliefs and you’re telling me I’m wrong? Okay, whoa. I’m going to double down.’" He argues that you’re much better off killing prejudice with kindness; reciprocity is the way to go. "I will give you respect if you hear me out, and you give me respect if I hear you out." From here, says Shermer, you can at least plant a seed of doubt.

Gaffigan’s emphasis isn’t so much on persuading others of your argument, but of respecting the complexity of someone’s decisions, even if you find them questionable. Several years ago, Gaffigan was on a comedy tour with a libertarian and an Occupy Wall Street member. "And all three of us are friends," he says. "I kind of like people with different opinions. And I’m not dismissive of – I mean I might casually say ‘you’re crazy’ but I mean I love these people and I also learn from them." Of course, when issues beyond economics, like race and gender, enter the landscape it’s much harder to be so understanding, but this article does a good job of humanizing a Trump supporter, and showing their perspective in a way that isn’t some caricature rooted in pure racism and misogyny. We may not ever agree, but talking to a Trump supporter can help us understand one another.

Gaffigan urges us not to be dismissive. Talk to people who are different from you. Widen your friendship circle, watch a wide range of news media; vary the sources through which you interpret the world.

And on that note, check out Jim Gaffigan’s book, aptly titled Dad is Fat.

Tune in to the The Jim Gaffigan Show.
Videos
  • Beethovan and Picasso are the perfect examples for mastering the creative process.
  • Behind each of their works are countless studies and sketches.
  • The lesson? Never erase anything, keep iterating, and find new paths to familiar destinations.


New study finds the egg may actually 'choose' the Sperm

Here's the first evidence to challenge the "fastest sperm" narrative.

popular
Keep reading Show less
Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Lumina Foundation and Big Think have partnered to bring this entrepreneurial competition to life, and we hope you'll participate! We have narrowed down the competition to four finalists and will be announcing an audience's choice award and a judges' choice award in May.

The creator of the winning video — chosen by Big Think's audience, the Lumina Foundation, and an independent panel of experts (bios below) — will be flown to New York for a taping in the Big Think studio as a way to further promote their vision for a new, disruptive idea in post-secondary education.

Thank you to all of the contestants who spent time submitting applications, and best of luck to our final four competitors.

Finalist: Greater Commons - Todd McLeod

Greater Commons, founded by Todd McLeod and Andrew Cull, is an organization that helps people live happier, more successful and fulfilling lives through agile learning. The current education system is inefficient and exclusionary, in which many students who end up earning a degree, if at all, enter a career not related to their field of study. Greater Commons solves this problem and gap in post-high school secondary education in a variety of ways. Passionately and diligently, Great Commons helps others obtain skills, knowledge, wisdom, motivation, and inspiration so that they may live better lives.

Finalist: PeerFoward - Keith Frome

PeerForward is an organization dedicated to increasing the education and career success rates of students in low-income schools and communities by mobilizing the power of positive peer influence. PeerForward works with partner schools to select influential students as a part of a team, systemizing the "peer effect." Research in the fields of sociology of schools, social-emotional learning, adult-youth partnerships, and civic education demonstrates that students can have a positive effect on the academic outcomes of their peers. PeerForward is unique through its systemic solutions to post-secondary education.

Finalist: Cogniss - Leon Young

Cogniss combines technology and best practice knowledge to enable anyone to innovate and share solutions that advance lifelong learning. Cogniss is the only platform to integrate neuroscience, through which it solves the problem of access by providing a low-code platform that enables both developers and non-developers to build sophisticated education apps fast, and at a much lower cost. It addresses the uneven quality of edtech solutions by embedding research-based learning design into its software. App creators can choose from a rich set of artificial intelligence, game, social and data analytics, and gamification to build their perfect customized solution.

Finalist: Practera - Nikki James

Practera's mission is to create a world where everyone can learn through experience. Today's workplaces are increasingly dynamic and diverse, however, costly and time-consuming experiential learning is not always able to offer the right opportunities at scale. Many students graduate without developing the essential skills for their chosen career. Practera's team of educators and technologists see this problem as an opportunity to transform the educational experience landscape, through a CPL pedagogical framework and opportunities to apply students' strengths through active feedback.

Thank you to our judges!

Our expert judges are Lorna Davis, Dan Rosensweig, and Stuart Yasgur.

Lorna Davis is the Senior Advisor to Danone CEO and is a Global Ambassador for the B Corp movement. Lorna has now joined B-Lab, the non-for-profit that supports the B Corporation movement on an assignment to support the journey of large multi nationals on the path to using business as a force of good.

Dan Rosensweig joined Chegg in 2010 with a vision for transforming the popular textbook rental service into a leading provider of digital learning services for high school and college students. As Chairman and CEO of Chegg, Dan commits the company to fulfilling its mission of putting students first and helping them save time, save money and get smarter.

Stuart Yasgur leads Ashoka's Social Financial Services globally. At Ashoka, Stuart works with others to initiate efforts that have mobilized more than $500 million in funding for social entrepreneurs, engaged the G20 through the Toronto, Seoul and Los Cabos summits and helped form partnerships with leading financial institutions and corporations.

Again, thank you to our incredible expert judges.