If you've read this article by Nicholas Kristof and found yourself at one and the same time both sympathetic and hostile to his analysis, my hunch is its because what his analysis lacks is a properly theological understanding of how the principalities and powers work on good people, never mind the so called deplorables. A good dose of William Stringfellow would help Kristof get clearer at what I think he wants to say. For example, here's this nugget:
"However many evil men hold places in the American establishment, they are far, far outnumbered, by my tally, by those bereft of conscience, so pathetically have they been dehumanized by the principalities and powers for which they are acolytes. And if the moral problem on such supposedly exalted levels of society is not so much wicked men as morally retarded men, then think of the cruel and somber daily existence of the multitudes of automatons of lower status and lesser privilege. They do not even have an illusion of power, the condiments of office, important reputation, or real wealth to insulate or console themselves from the
imperious and obdurate totalitarian claims of the principalities against human life in society. For these folk, ridiculed on all sides (though most pointedly by the erstwhile champions) as "the silent majority," the American institutional and ideological ethos incubates a profound apathy toward human life as such." (William Stringfellow Ethics for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land)
If one understands how this dehumanization works on all of us, stupefying and bewitching us with fear and making us clamor for scraps of power or give in to apathy while others drown in its wake, then having empathy for poor whites who voted for Trump is not at odds with a passionate commitment to social justice which may mean standing very firmly against the racist dehumanization so rampant today. Moral evil is not nearly so problematic as what he calls demoralizing idolatry to death and fear of death. The latter is how good people stand idly by while others suffer, or even think that another's suffering is somehow the solution to their own.
For Stringfellow the resistance to all of this stupefaction is spiritual renewal, exorcism of false spirits and false choices, and resurrection ethics. Condemning racism is not nearly so difficult nor important as meeting it with disciplined prayer, fearless speech, and acts of counter-cultural love.
And, after all, good listening and pastoral care is in itself a form of prophetic witness to the power of love to triumph over fear, truth to stand fast in the face of falsehood. And that's got nothing to do with being nice!
(I posted this over on my Facebook page and since I've often championed Stringfellow as an unofficial patron saint for Religious Left Law I thought I'd repost it here. As I read his article on how to listen to those who supported Trump, I called to mind my own work as a pastor, in which I have had occasion not only to listen to Trump supporters, but to be in their homes, hear their stories, mourn their losses, do their funerals, and provide them with the sacraments. When one has done this, dismissal as deplorable is not an option. Can the pastor be a prophet in such a setting? My calling takes the risk of affirming this as a genuine possibility even as it does so in fear and trembling)