• Cheek

A lesson we can all take from the Trump phone call

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

If you haven't heard it yet, The Washington Post has published the transcript and recording of a phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is also a Republican. The article is behind a paywall, but the key snippets were posted in IGTV format on their Instagram.

The contents of the phone call are disturbing, but not completely surprising. There's something about listening to the words verbatim that makes it seem more real, but we already knew that Trump isn't interested in democracy, and that Republicans in the US have been gerrymandering for many years. But there's something else that I took from the recording. Something that I think we can all apply to our lives.

Trump's party support has been waning over the past four years, and came to an all time low during the election, when elected Republican officials spoke out publicly, urging him to concede. There was a movement of lifetime Republicans who reported voting for Biden, saying it was the first time they had cast a vote for a Democrat in their lives. But Trump still leans heavily on the idea that Republicans must support him.

In the recording, he can be heard saying 'you're a Republican' to Raffensperger, implying that his party allegiances should result in him essentially doing whatever Trump tells him to. This is hardly a new concept as far as Trump is concerned, but I found it applicable elsewhere. We have a special bond with people who agree with us, especially when it comes to politics.

Whether it's a sibling, friend, or colleague, people who vote like us hold a special place. Whether that means we spend hours talking to them about deep societal issues or simply exchange a meaningful glance over the table when abortion is brought up, we feel connected to people who are like us on a deep level.

There were a disconcerting number of times this phenomenon has come to the forefront throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. When Annastacia Palaszczuk (Labor) decided to shut the Queensland borders, Gladys Berejiklian and Scott Morrison (Liberal) were not supportive. When Berejiklian later decided to take similar measures, she had the support of her party in Canberra. And again, Scott Morrison was eerily quiet about Berejiklian's love life scandal a few months ago. I wonder, would he have offered Palaszczuk the same courtesy? I doubt it.

While support for one another is important, and I have spoken publicly numerous times about my distaste for infighting in the left, the blind support is not it. To his credit, Raffensperger did not appear to be shaken by this (very) thinly veiled threat, and the recordings being exposed mean that he may get out of this sticky situation without too many issues.

Too often we idolise politicians, the ones we agree with at least, and can sometimes follow them blindly. The same goes for influencers and public figures who speak openly about politics. As voters, we shouldn't be afraid to question our elected officials or even our politically-aligned friends. Blind support and party allegiances lead to complacency and corruption, which I believe is proven with this leaked phone call. Should Raffensperger have blindly followed Trump's lead, the US would have seen more unrest and increased thereat to the democratic system. And we'd be stupid to think that this is the first phone call of this nature to have taken place. It's just the first we've heard.