This morning I started off reading the New York Times’ article, Are Liberals Helping Trump? because I wanted to know what was behind that curious title, also I want to try to understand better what the actual fuck is happening in this country. (You can see what direction this is going, I’m sure, and I assure you there will be a lot of anger and a lot of naughty language and a lot of unnecessary capitalization. I will not judge you if you click out of this post right now and continue along your merry way, I promise.)
Okay guys, get ready for a very long rant, because every time I read something with the intention of better understanding the motives of Trump supporters and maybe forming an iota of sympathy for them, I end up just losing my goddamn mind, so here we go:
“‘We’re backed into a corner,’ said Mr. Medford… ‘There are at least some things about Trump I find to be defensible. But they are saying: ‘Agree with us 100 percent or you are morally bankrupt. You are an idiot if you voted for Trump.'”
I have been reading pieces like these since November hoping to find something redeemable about someone’s vote for Trump, and I have yet to find a single goddamn thing that isn’t 1) being absolutely, head-in-the-sand in denial of all of the sexist, racist, xenophobic, classist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic shit that he says and does (oh, you think he’s not homophobic or tansphobic? Why exactly is Mike Pence his VP then?) and this seems to be THE BEST case scenario 2) straight up RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM, people saying that Trump “is going to put God back into the White House,” as though making healthcare more accessible and affordable to people regardless of their economic status and passing legislation designed to minimize oppression and discrimination were ungodly things for Obama to do* (none of the conservatives who bitched about Obama’s policies for the past eight years were concerned about the drone strikes and associated civilian casualties, those were predominantly liberal complaints against Obama) 3) actual, full-blown embrace of the racism, xenophobia, sexism, classism, aleism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. which is way scarier than the just being in denial about it.
You have something that you find defensible or reasonable about Trump? FUCKING TELL ME AND PLEASE ACTUALLY MAKE IT REASONABLE AND SENSIBLE. I would LOVE to feel like I can work with Trump voters/supporters instead of fighting against them, I would LOVE to feel like we had some common ground to start from, I would LOVE to at least be able to understand and sympathize with them if not have common ground, but I have yet to see a Trump supporter provide any even half-way reasonable or redeemable reason for why they voted for Trump that doesn’t showcase sheer head-in-the-sand denial.
This is not to say that I do not on occasion understand the motivation behind conservatism, even if I across the board disagree with it. I live and work in a mill town that has been suffering an economic depression due to environmental protection legislation passed by Democrats several decades ago. The people in this town and towns like them feel left behind by the Democratic party and by liberal politics, and I understand that — I see the effects of that negligence every day in the form of poverty, hunger, homelessness, substance abuse, and the plethora of other plagues that comes with that. I can understand not trusting Democrats and liberals in the face of being so grossly overlooked.
But how the fuck is voting for a billionaire demagogue an answer? This is someone who has been conning people out of their money and livelihoods for decades, not paying workers for their labor, conning people into paying him for nothing (Trump university anyone?). He has settled numerous lawsuits on this front — something he and his lawyers would not do if they could reasonably defend themselves against such accusations, but here’s the thing: they can’t. Because he did this. And he is proud of it. He takes advantage of everyone and anyone, but most especially (in the realm of politics, anyway) white working class people who have or feel they have been left behind by liberal politics. He’s not going to fix anything. He’s going to make it worse for everyone but him and the billionaire cronies he’s stocking his cabinet with. They are out to line their pockets, nothing else, and they will wage war on our civil rights to do so.
All of that said: I would agree that the viciousness we liberals have been prone to these past few months is alienating, and I hadn’t really considered how alienating it might be or that it might be hurting our cause. Yes, we should try to listen to and work with moderate conservatives. No, we should not demand that they agree with us 100 percent of the time because that is unreasonable and not conducive to effective, forward momentum. Our own viciousness may be slowing our progressive movement and that needs to be addressed.
“Protests and righteous indignation on social media and in Hollywood may seem to liberals to be about policy and persuasion. But moderate conservatives say they are having the opposite effect, chipping away at their middle ground and pushing them closer to Mr. Trump.”
I see where/why this is happening, and I recognize that this rant in and of itself is an example of that, and I do think this needs to be addressed (although this rant is, for me, about catharsis and therefore I’m obviously not addressing here and now, though I intend to try to do so in future one-on-one interactions). But goddamn it they just make so mad, because after that incredibly reasonable and forthright statement, we move on to this bullshit:
“‘The name calling from the left is crazy,’ said Bryce Youngquist, 34, who works in sales for a tech start-up in Mountain View, Calif. a liberal enclave where admitting you voted for Mr. Trump is a little like saying in the 1950s that you were gay.”
“‘They are complaining about Trump calling people names, but they turned into some mean people.'”
That I can understand. This is the point that I think we need to be paying attention to. This I will listen to and try to empathize.
“Mr. Youngquist stayed in the closet for months about his support for Mr. Trump. He did not put a bumper sticker on his car for fear it would be keyed…Even dating became difficult. Many people on Tinder have a warning on their profile: ‘Trump supporters swipe left.’ — meaning, get lost.”
This is where I get hung again, because, not to repeat myself but, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Basically what this says to me is that these people who have, their entire lives, been acting both explicitly and implicitly to make minorities around them feel uncomfortable, threatened, unwanted, and in danger now they feel the same way, but without nearly the same level of actual threat. And they genuinely cannot see the incredible irony of the situation. Fuck that and fuck this guy and also fuck the writer of this article for appropriating terms from the LGBTQ+ community that are used to describe the act of self-defensively hiding their identity out of fear of being rejected by friends and family and out of fear of the very real threat of potential violence, sometimes deadly violence.
“But if political action is meant to persuade people that Mr. Trump is bad for the country, then people on the fence would seem a logical place to start. Yet many seemingly persuadable conservatives say that liberals are burning bridges rather than building them.”
YES YES YES. This is the point we need to be focusing on, this is the point we need to try to be more aware of and figure out how to navigate. My problem, as an individual human being who happens to be liberal and facts-orientated, is that I have no idea how the fuck to persuade people who seemingly don’t give a fuck about facts or scientific reasoning. I am trying to figure out how to speak persuasively to those who favor their gut, emotional reactions over facts (I genuinely don’t mean that to sound condescending, but I just sat here thinking about how to phrase it in the least incendiary way and that was the best I could come up with). The best I can reason is that persuading conservatives must start with the language we use: choosing emotionally charged words, especially those with religious connotations/undertones rather than scientific or critiquing words. i.e. “The sanctity of our planet and our environment has been violated” instead of “Climate change is a real danger to our planet.” I don’t know if that’s the best example, but I’m still working through this, and it’s the best one I’ve got so far. I would love to hear more thoughts on this subject as I would genuinely like to learn this skill.
“‘The Democratic party has changed so much that I don’t even recognize it anymore,’ she said. ‘These people are destroying out democracy. They are scarier to me than these Islamic terrorists. I absolutely feel disgusted with them and their antics. It strengthens people’s resolve in wanting to support President Trump. It really does.'”
Oh really? The people resisting Trump’s agenda are the ones destroying American democracy, not Trump’s aids who had contact with Russian intelligence leading up to the election or Trump himself who encouraged Russia to hack the DNC, or in fact Russia which did hack the DNC and deliberately and carefully released batches of emails according to what were hot-button topics at the time, with the intention of influencing the vote? No no, it’s not them destroying American democracy, it’s definitely all of the people who have in the past few months become much more engaged in politics, utilizing constitutionally protected forms of protest and freedom of speech in an effort to influence their representatives to, um, I don’t know…REPRESENT THEM.
“‘It invalidated anything that’s good about me, just because of how I voted. Poof, it’s gone.'”
“‘I love Meryl Streep, but you know, she robbed me of that wonderful feeling I get when I go to the movies to be entertained,’ [Mrs. O’Connell] said.”
Mrs. O’Connell’s movie going experience was ruined by politics and this is gravely unsettling to her, but we’re the fragile snowflakes. Yeah right.
Okay. So yeah. That was my very long and perfectly unsolicited rant for the month. So my final questions are as follows:
How does one overcome such anger and get to a place where conversing with those moderate conservatives in a productive and effective way is possible?
How do I move from being utterly disgusted by what seems to be a genuine disconnect from the very real violence and fear faced by minorities and marginalized communities every day and a related total lack of empathetic and thoughtful priority?
How do I move from being the angry, name-calling liberal whose rage only makes it worse, to someone is able to speak reasonably and persuasively with moderate conservatives?
How do I do all of this when my genuine efforts to speak reasonably and with the interest of persuading kindly and gently have previously been met with absolute aggression, regardless of how polite, kind, or cheery my “tone”?
Should I even bother with trying to change tactics, or should I leave it to people who are already quite skilled at such persuasion and just keep doing what I’m good at, which is fighting?
* One being Godly: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” — Matthew 25:34-40
**My buddy Lupa refuses to call the 45th anything but “Skroob” and I find it absolutely delightful. It’s the little things that get us through the day, right?