Crossing the Divide

My friend Ed Fallon, and Bold Iowa are engaged in an important project to bridge the extreme polarization in this country today.

“Crossing the Divide” was filmed in 2017 and is immensely relevant to Bold Iowa’s signature 2021 initiative:  52 Conversations with Iowa Trump Voters.

Fifty-two Conversations With Iowa Trump Voters is a collaboration between the Fallon Forum and Bold Iowa. Each week from January 1 through December 31, 2021, I’ll have an hour-long conversation with a fellow Iowan who voted for Donald Trump. I’ll publish a summary of that conversation in my weekly blog and interview that voter on my radio talk show.

I’ve got four goals with these conversations:

1. Dispel the myth that all Trump voters are bad people;
2. Identify our common ground;
3. Dialogue about solutions to the existential threat of climate change;
4. Understand why so few rural and blue-collar Iowans vote Democrat.

I reject the rhetoric that most Trump voters are racists, misogynists, and “deplorable” — as Hillary Clinton so memorably referred to half of Trump’s supporters in 2016. There are good people who, for various reasons, voted for Donald Trump. We need to understand why. We need to listen. We need to figure out our shared interests, especially regarding the climate emergency.

A film crew captured this story from the 2017 Climate Justice Unity March.

A reactionary Iowa farmer has a change of heart when climate activists march into his tiny town.

Disrespect is poisoning American society, jeopardizing informed debate and destabilizing democracy. This is a story about how two groups on either side of the political divide get caught up in a firestorm of disrespect, sparked by a Confederate flag and an attack video funded by a pipeline company. Then, almost miraculously, they find common ground. Their unlikely alliance shows how hard it is to change entrenched beliefs yet how important it is to try.

Ralph King is producer and co-director of the PBS documentary Extreme By Design, about Stanford University students who make low-cost products for the developing world. The film premiered on primetime nationally in December 2013. King worked as a print journalist for 25 years and was twice nominated by Wall Street Journal editors for the Pulitzer Prize.

Posted on  by Ed Fallon

Relevant to the fourth goal listed above, I’ll wrap up by quoting Andrew Yang:

“When I was running for president, I spoke with many of the people who hold some of our most common jobs in America — truck drivers, retail clerks, waitresses and more.

“When I told them I was running as a Democrat, a lot of them tended to flinch.

“We have to acknowledge that there’s something wrong when working class Americans have that response to a major party that is supposed to be fighting for them.

“So, you have to ask yourself in that situation, what is the Democratic Party standing for in their minds?”

I hope you’ll sign up to receive my weekly blogs — CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE.

I hope you’ll listen to this series of interviews, either on our podcast or one of the stations that rebroadcast the program. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.

Most important, I hope you’ll make an effort to talk with Trump voters you know. It takes effort, patience, an open mind, and a loving heart to build bridges, to identify common ground with people often demonized by politicians and the media. When the powers-that-be divide us, we all lose. Let’s change that. — Ed Fallon

NOTE: The following is from a blog post related to this I wrote in 2018.

I’m thinking more about what resist not evil means today. Yesterday’s post related to what Henry Cadbury said during the time of Hitler:

“By hating Hitler and trying to fight back,” Cadbury said, “Jews are only increasing the severity of his policies against them.” He went on: “If Jews throughout the world try to instill into the minds of Hitler and his supporters recognition of the ideals for which the race stands, and if Jews appeal to the German sense of justice and the German national conscience, I am sure the problem will be solved more effectively and earlier than otherwise.” 

Looking back on those days, most people believe Hitler and the Nazi’s were only able to do what they did because the citizenry did not speak out against what was happening. It is assumed people remained silent for one of two reasons, or both. One being they feared the consequences. They saw what happened to those who did speak out, which included being ostracized, losing their jobs or businesses, and/or being imprisoned or sent to the death camps. The other reason might have been they believed Jewish people were a threat and deserved to be punished.

Henry Cadbury believed the Jewish people should have appealed to the German sense of justice and national conscience. Then those Germans would have stood up for the Jewish people, and prevented the Nazis from acquiring power.  The death camps would not have happened.

Many probably think that is naive and could not have worked. But that is what nonviolence is about, connecting with those you are hoping to change. Listening deeply and being willing to change yourself. This is also what faith is about, believing in the presence of God today. Believing that as you listen closely you will be guided by the Inner Light. Believing somehow God will find a way.

“People often mistake hope for a feeling, but it’s not. It’s a mental discipline, an attentional practice that you can learn. Like any such discipline, it’s work that takes time, which you fail at, succeed, improve, fail at again, and build over years inside yourself.

Hope isn’t just looking at the positive things in this world, or expecting the best. That’s a fragile kind of cheerfulness, something that breaks under the weight of a normal human life. To practice hope is to face hard truths, harder truths than you can face without the practice of hope. You can’t navigate dark places without a light, and hope is that light for humanity’s dark places.Hope lets you study environmental destruction, war, genocide, exploitative relations between peoples. It lets you look into the darkest parts of human history, and even the callous entropy of a universe hell bent on heat death no matter what we do. When you are disciplined in hope, you can face these things because you have learned to put them in context, you have learned to swallow joy and grief together, and wait for peace.


There a many disturbing signs that the current Republican administration is trying to acquire similar power, moving steadily along an increasingly authoritarian path. The core supporters, like the Germans of the time of the Nazis, feel they are victims and are looking at President Trump as the leader who will help them get back what they feel has been taken from them. They want to see those who they feel are responsible for their worsening conditions, punished.  They applaud his destruction of the norms of our society.

Do we have the faith and courage to engage with Trump’s supporters? Can we find creative ways to get past the blind support they have for their leader?

One of the main divides today seems to be between those who live in urban areas versus those who live in rural parts of the country. One of the reasons I want to participate in the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March is that one of the goals is to try to bridge that divide. That march has since occurred. Many photos and blog posts about that sacred journey can be found here:
First Nation-Farmer Unity – First Nation peoples and farmers working together

“The First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March will connect people from urban centers with rural residents to share stories and concerns regarding the abuse of eminent domain, climate change and a range of other issues. With the polarization in our country, it is more important than ever that these opportunities to meet and talk happen. Our  allies are eager to share stories that may be unfamiliar to people in rural communities. Similarly, we want to give people in the towns we walk through a chance to share their stories, not just about how climate change is affecting them but stories about challenges facing farmers and others who live and work in rural Iowa.”

climate march poster
This entry was posted in #NDAPL, climate change, decolonize, First Nations, Indigenous, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s