From Nov. 11, 2016
In the aftermath of the election, I’m hearing from some Trump supporters that they do not want to be grouped with the racists, the sexists, the xenophobes, the hatemongers. They claim that they personally have no sympathy for the KKK. They voted for change, for the breakup of an entrenched Washington elite.
I think, though, that any Trump voter bought the whole package. At this point, I’m not willing to take any of that apart. If someone votes for Trump, they know exactly what they’re getting. They’re getting pussy-grabbing. They’re getting disability-mocking. They’re getting hate and fear. There is no separating these things out. A Trump voter is all of these.
I can only think of one way that someone could actually make the case for not having the whole package tied to them. It’s not by making some impassioned statement that they’re not really racist, or sexist, that it was about noble things. Words don’t count. Actions count. I would want to see real anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobe movements arising among Trump voters. Real action. Real organizing.
And by that, I don’t mean things like “reversion therapy” for gays, or conversion for Muslims, or something like that. That’s the opposite of a movement. I mean a movement that actually respect who people really are, right now, and trusts that they know themselves and their own path best.
I’m not holding my breath. But that’s the thing, isn’t it – people want to have their cake and eat it too. Why were the polls so far off? Because a lot of people knew very well that voting for Trump was problematic in so many ways, and they were unwilling to tell a pollster about it, but in the voting booth they were safe to vote for him. That means that people know about the unsavory, vile nature of Trump and those who surround him, but it weighed less than other things.
I’m unwilling to separate these things out. Without actual effort, not words but effort, I have no choice but to see Trump voters as having bought the whole package. That doesn’t mean I won’t or can’t work with them or interact in public, but it means that every interaction will start from that point. I’m dealing with a racist. I’m dealing with a sexist. I’m dealing with someone who is fine with wishing harm on a vast number of people. I’m dealing with someone who privileges easy scapegoats over hard thinking. And unless I see real evidence to the contrary (and I am willing to be convinced otherwise), that’s where I have to start. This is not me thinking I’m better than someone else – exactly the opposite. This is a reaction to a large group of people who were willing to throw their neighbors under a bus for their own benefit.
The next years are going to be terrible for so many, but I believe that there are no strategies or solutions in the upcoming government that will work. Economically, this will be a disaster. Kansas under Brownback demonstrates that – far right economic policy is a complete and utter disaster for everyone. It is both theoretically and empirically bankrupt. Socially, it is a disaster, and it will be for everyone, not just the designated scapegoats of this election. International relations will suffer greatly.
And I want to hang all this around the necks of those who got us here. I don’t want the story to change later, like it did with Obama. Lots of people on the right blame the economic crash on him, even though he wasn’t even in office when it happened. But at this point, every major agency of the federal government, and all three branches, and most governorships, will be in the hands of a hard-right world-view. And the story has to be told and remembered.
So, I’m going to use a hashtag to do it: #Brokeityouboughtit Just as Trump voters can’t wriggle out from the racism and the sexism, Trump ideology will not wriggle out from the responsibility for the upcoming disasters. We know what’s going to happen, we have precedent.
And, we need our writers and artists and all creative people to tell a better story. It amazes me that the left has the most creative people, and yet when it comes to crafting a compelling narrative, Trump won. He controlled the narrative. How can that happen? We write, we kvetch, we analyze – heck, I’m doing that right now. I’m no better than anyone else on this. But we have to do better. We need a better story. #abetterstory That’s my other hashtag. I think it’s currently being used by a Christian group, but that’s fine. We need a better story than the hate that has won this day.
Maybe it’s appropriate that I write this on Remembrance Day. That’s what it’s called in Canada, not Veteran’s day, and I like that better. There’s less heroic war-fetishizing with Remembrance Day, just more sorrow and a commitment to working for a society and a world where that would never have to happen again. That’s what I want. #Brokeityouboughtit and #Abetterstory are about a better Remembrance.
ADDED: I want to be clear here. I wasn’t trying to say that Trump voters are irredeemable. I was trying to say that the onus is on them. They bought this package, and it’s up to them to distance themselves from these parts of it. And “I’m not racist, I have a black friend” isn’t good enough. There’s nothing that would make me happier than to see the right develop anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-hate strategies. Would I agree with them on everything? Of course not, but it’s better than the dog whistles of the “southern strategy”, and the superficial answers we get now.