AF: Not according to what I believe in my heart. Let’s remember how many more people voted for Secretary Clinton than for Trump. Our American experiment has always been about striving to be a more perfect union. In the deepest part of me, I believe that the people who turned out to vote for Trump, even those who marched on Charlottesville with Nazi signs, those people’s smallest selves are being called upon. We’re not doing our work to call on their better selves. We have to reup our agreements with each other about who we choose to be.
PG: Is it a kind of gift to see how deeply divided we are? As a first step to addressing it?
AF: Look, I’m a storyteller. I believe in the power of stories to change hearts and minds. There’s a certain story that’s dominating and winning now: We’re a divided country. I don’t know that that’s necessarily true. As human beings, we have more in common with Trump voters, even with Nazis in Charlottesville, than what divides us. Sure, there’s fear; there’s pain; there’s loss. But we also have a human story that connects us, a truth that we’re ignoring.
HC: We have not yet developed a modern, future-oriented narrative. And because we haven’t, people who were shaken and hurt by the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 are seeing the world as a zero-sum game: “If that woman, that immigrant, that Muslim, that African-American, if they get ahead, that’s coming from me.” We haven’t done what we need to do to create an alternative narrative. I tried to with my platform of “Stronger Together” — because I believe it.
The real job killer in America is automation, robotics, artificial intelligence. You’re not going to lose because your neighbor’s child gets a chance to go to college. You’re not going to lose because a hard-working immigrant family starts a small business. That’s good for you! We never made that case. And the message from Trump was a retrograde message of nostalgia: “We can go back to the way things were. You don’t have to compete with a woman for a job. Or with a striving young immigrant.” It’s a falsehood that gave some comfort to people and gave them permission to scapegoat others.
PG: You write that when people are mad, they want to vent. And they want a candidate who vents, not a 10-point plan to fix things.
HC: You put your finger on one of my challenges. I understood that people were upset. They hadn’t fully recovered from the financial…