Sympathy For The Trump Voter, Part 3: After the Election
Popular (official?) historiography of the 2016 Election has coagulated around the idea that Trump’s win represented a rebuke to the elites, liberals, “social justice warriors”, college professors, college students, Hollywood, feminists, scientists, artists, immigrants and basically anyone who doesn’t fit the increasingly narrow definition of a Real American — rural or small-town, white, Christian, poorly educated and poor or middle-class.
Over the ensuing months, think pieces multiplied calling on liberals to be more willing to “learn” and “listen”, and be more cognizant of the pain and anger of the the good people who populate America’s “heartland,” simple folk who have long been left behind and forgotten by the jet-set. Trump, we are told, is the result of “elites” ignoring the concerns of “ordinary Americans” who rot away in their ghost towns, devastated by the departure of sweet, sweet manufacturing jobs for China, India and Mexico, or else small businesses groaning under onerous regulations that won’t let an Honest Job Creater cut baby formula with melamine, like they do in China. Here is a good example , which talks about the resentment that the country has towards the city, the working class towards the professional class, those experiencing “economic anxiety” towards those who worry about police shootings. (It’s an early piece, but it’s a very good representation of the Liberal Remorse that we’ve been seeing.) Even Rawstory, a commie rag if there ever was one, republished one of those off of Quora via Newsweek. (“If the progressive movement in the United States does not learn to engage and speak to the people that disagree with its tenets without making them feel like backwards simpletons, it will never move forward without then having to take two steps back,” says the author after describing his father — his example of a Trump Voter — as a muscle-headed backward simpleton who decidedly isn’t interested in a dialogue with someone who embraces ideas different from his. “If progressives do not learn to create fresh common ground and alliances with those whom they are told hate them and all they represent,” continues the author, after describing how much his father utterly hates anyone who is a liberal, gay, person of color or immigrant.)
Well — I have thought it over, and I’ve decided the denizens of Pigfuck, Arkansas can go fuck themselves.
And I’ll say this — for people who know so much about “gaslighting”, a surprising number of progressives are proving surprisingly easy to gaslight.
The reason small-town people in all those Red States are struggling with joblessness, lack of a safety net and general economic decay isn’t that they were “forgotten” by the “elites”. Far from it. Thanks to the peculiarities of the American electoral system, designed to assure 18th-century plantation owners that the era’s SJW’s wouldn’t be able to outlaw slavery by a simple vote, rural and small-town America is already vastly overrepresented in American politics. If we actually had a fair and equitable election system (one person = one vote), Hillary Clinton would be president. If small-town conservatives were indeed forgotten and left by the wayside (as they so richly deserve), Democrats would have had a solid majority in both chambers of Congress. As it is, however, it is I who feel powerless against the onslaught of this bydlo, whose votes weigh so much more than mine and whose know-nothing representatives have a death grip on Congress, governorships, and local offices that essentially control the elections. Small-town and rural Americans enjoy an electoral system structured so blatantly to give them a huge advantage, this country barely qualifies as a democracy anymore.
No, the reason small-town Trump Voters are doing so poorly is because of the politicians they themselves have elected for decades — and continue to elect — and the policies they’ve chosen to support. I mean, look at Kansas. Brownback and the state’s Republican legislature have turned it into a third-world country, and what do the Sunflowers do? Vote Republican more harder, that’s what. And that’s just one of the many, many examples, which I don’t care to list here because come on, my stomach.
Suffice it to say, for many years, I’ve watched with fascination as working-class and rural whites — the very people that are supposedly “left behind by the Establishment” — consistently voted against their best interests.
It is not liberals’ fault that these people are so obsessed with gays and abortions, they’d vote for a manatee if it meant abortions were banned and gays were in the closet.
It is not liberals’ fault that small-town Trump Voters vote for politicians who run on the platform of eliminating social programs that they benefit from.
It is not liberals’ fault that small-town Trump Voters are willing to shoot themselves in both feet if it means blacks, “Mexicans”, gays and women get to suffer more.
It is not liberals’ fault that small-town Trump Voters keep subscribing to the wholly bizarre notion of trickle-down economics, despite over three decades of experience demonstrating that it JUST. DOESN’T. WORK.
It is not liberals’ fault that small-town Trump Voters keep voting for those who follow through on their explicit promise to cut Trump Voters’ legs from under them — gut environmental regulations, defund public schools, prevent access to affordable medicine, privatize public services.
It is not liberals’ fault that small-town Trump Voters are so addicted to the red meat of religion, race, gender roles and other people’s consensual sex lives, that they are willing to sacrifice their and their children’s futures if it means destroying someone else’s.
It is not liberals’ fault that small-town Trump Voters vote AGAIN AND AGAIN for statesmen who have the same narrow set of “solutions” for every problem under the sun: cut taxes on the rich, cut taxes on the rich, cut taxes on the rich, give money to churches, fuck the environment, ban abortion, cut taxes on the rich, deregulate everything except women’s bodies and cut taxes on the rich.
These “forgotten Americans” have supported these policies since forever. Most of them have never voted progressive, so how is it liberals’ fault that they find themselves floundering in a vat of pigshit? Are they seriously complaining that the Black Obama — whom they hated with the heat of a thousand suns — didn’t manage to enact policies to benefit them against the deranged opposition of the very legislators they chose to send to Congress? Sure, they are angry — and true to form, their solution to the crisis in which they find themselves is to do they same thing they’ve always done, but harder. And blame the liberal bogeyman for not finding a way to make their lives better despite their own staunch opposition.
I can’t muster any sympathy for these people.
They call unemployed black people lazy moochers, and themselves “economically anxious”.
They deride others for depending on the government, while demanding that the government give them all undemanding, secure, well-paid jobs, homes and “respect” (read: race- and gender-based privilege).
They proclaim their hate for the Establishment, but they also hated the Occupy Movement.
They support open rebellion against the government, but claim that innocent black people deserve to get shot without trial for being “disobedient”.
They’ve spent years seething with dreams of “watering the tree of liberty”, but accuse others of disloyalty and treason.
Their “intellectuals” alternate between making thinly-veiled threats of violence against progressives and writing million-word whiny screeds explimacating why it’s wrong to punch Nazis (apparently it’s because it’s wrong to lash out physically at someone just because that person has a “different opinion” — but that principle of non-violence holds true only for “different opinions” of the extreme-right variety).
They moan about “family values”, yet shame a woman for staying with a husband who cheated on her, and vote enthusiastically for a serial adulterer who bragged about sexually assaulting women and getting away with it.
They complain that liberals (like me) have written them off (like I’m doing right now, I guess), but it is they who have, for many years, promoted the binary of Real Americans versus Enemies of the People.
They hyperventilated about Hillary Clinton’s minor financial irregularities, yet fully embrace a “leader” who refuses to disclose his tax returns, openly exploits the presidency for profit and advertises his wife’s jewelry on the White House website. And if you bring it up, the response is invariably, “but Hillary Clinton something something Clinton Foundation”.
This is more than just hypocrisy. These are people with no values, save one: opposition. Beyond opposition, there is only moral emptiness, a black void. Best they can do is disingenuously invoke the values of those they hate as cudgels to beat them with. No wonder they so enthusiastically embrace the notion of “post-truth”.
I don’t care about their problems. All their woes are of their own making. They made their lives what they are (miserable) — and it’s remarkable indeed that the same people who keep screeching about the virtue of “taking responsibility” are so utterly unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions, past and present.
I don’t care about their shitty towns being shitty. Yes, I understand, the economy can create a boom in some places and be a bitch to others. Still, at some point, aren’t the residents at least partly responsible for the long-term fate of their town? I guess this is my Not American experience talking — I grew up in a part of the world where towns big and small have been devastated again and again, over centuries, by warfare, terror, economic breakdowns, revolutions, epidemics, droughts, fires, political roller coasters, and yet they’ve risen again and again from the ashes. But, all it takes to fell a wholesome American town is for the factory to leave? That’s it?? Give me a break. It’s not just an economy problem, it’s a culture problem.
Maybe if the parents and grandparents of today’s angry small-town Trump Voters had actually taken the time and effort to build their communities independent of their employers, instead of moving into a pre-fabricated world, shuttling in their private vehicles from their single-family pods to their workplaces and back again at the end of the day, if they hadn’t treated their towns as “bedroom communities”, if they hadn’t translated the fantasy of rugged individualism into a fuck-you-jack-I-got-mine isolationism, if they had given themselves the trouble to make their communal home into something more than a company town, if they hadn’t relied so completely on the company to create an illusion of community for them — maybe then these towns wouldn’t have become such bottomless pits of despair and hopelessness after GM and WR Grace left for greener pastures. And, it is that very ancestral attitude of not caring about one’s community, of being oppositional to one’s neighbor, of being personally isolationist, of bitching and moaning about one’s hard-earned money being “stolen” by the government while taking advantage of every public service and that, with a colossal sense of entitlement — in short, a culture of pervasive assholery — that cultivated today’s Trump Voter; the local economic downturn is, at most, a catalyst. And again, there is this dissonance between praising self-reliance while, simultaneously, crying for the government and Big Business to come and build a nice life for them (without taxes!), which makes it impossible for me to respect these people.
(Yes, there are towns and villages in the Old World that are putrid shitholes, too. But in their case, the same is true: a place goes to hell when the residents stop caring about it. Also, to the question of what small-town Americans could possibly do against a corporate giant coming and bankrupting all the mom-and-pop businesses, thereby turning their town into a smoldering crater of despair, the answer is simple: stop voting for politicians who serve the interests of corporate giants, and stop believing them when they say that privileging corporate giants is necessary to create jobs and revitalize economies. Small-town Trump Voters have the power of the vote — they just use it to strangle themselves.)
I don’t want to engage with these people. Not because it’s painful or detrimental to one’s mental and emotional well-being, but because there is simply no point. Dialogue with someone who has different ideas than you only makes sense if your opponent is (1) capable of reason; and (2) arguing in good faith. Neither is true of the vast majority of Trump Voters, so any “dialogue” with them is nothing more than an opportunity for them to inflict more gaslighting and more abuse, to say nothing of validating their irrational, hateful and completely abhorrent beliefs.
I am not going to validate them, and you, my fellow progressives, shouldn’t either. Even as a sacrifice or compromise, it’s pointless: there is no way on earth these people will ever vote liberal, because that is just not who they are. The only way to “win” them is to be to the right of Trump. If becoming fascists is what it would take for progressives to win these people over, then there is no point in winning them over.
So fuck’em. They are a minority of this society, anyway. A depressingly sizeable minority, alas, and one that enjoys a political influence out of all proportion to its contributions, be they economic, scientific or cultural — but a minority nonetheless. They should not be accomodated; they should be resisted.
Fuck’em. These yokels need affordable health care and good public schools much more than someone like me does — yet they spit in the face of people who fight for those things and give their votes to politicians who promise to dismantle them. And then assume their chosen representatives won’t act on their campaign promises. They are not “forgotten”. They are stupid, malicious and self-destructive.
None of this is to say that I hate them or would enjoy seeing them suffer, as they most assuredly will. I DO want them to have good education, good roads, modern infrastructure and access to top-notch healthcare. What can I say? I’m a progressive, which necessarily means I’m a pussy. But even a pussy has to draw the line somewhere. The spot where liberals are supposed to accept the blame for what these red-voting shitheads are doing to themselves is as good as any.
What irritates me particularly is that just like the Trump Voters, progressives are drawing the wrong lesson from history. Being nice hasn’t worked out well for progressives in the past. If anything, progressives have been too accommodationist. Obstruction and consistent refusal to compromise have worked out really well for Republicans, though.
I say we take a page out of the book. Progressives win nothing by trying to compromise with Trump Voters. We might win something by actually opposing them.