What [Moderated Post] means:
I will delete to protect the climate on my blog. If I delete, I’ll tell you why, at least the first time. It doesn’t mean you’re not welcome; it just means your deleted comment isn’t. I’ll give you a warning if I feel like it. If you show blatant disrespect for another blogger, show blatant disrespect for any minority, bring an argument or fight from another post that doesn’t apply to this one, or deliberately attempt to introduce an argument irrelevant to the post, expect your comment to be deleted. Decisions to delete on my blog are my decision and mine alone. If I leave the thread alone for a while, I’ll clean it up on my return.
As a liberal, I was initially shocked by what Trump’s supporters would tolerate from him. It didn’t seem to matter what he did, any one of which they would have crucified Hillary over: Diss POW’s, give a mafia don a ride in his helicopter, stiff small businesses (including the woman who catered his second wedding, whom he nearly drove out of business), mock a guy with a disability, fondle women without their consent, run a phony charity, hire foreign workers off the books for construction, refuse to show his tax returns, lie with unbelievable consistency; didn’t matter. During the campaign, every week something else showed up on that list, something else that we liberals thought would certainly be a dealbreaker. Maybe when instead of draining the swamp, he cut taxes for the wealthy and put foxes in charge of every conceivable departmental henhouse in Washington. Nope. None of them were dealbreakers. Trump commented that he could shoot someone in Times Square and not lose his supporters. He was right.
Some of us thought his supporters were being duped, that if they weren’t rich they were voting against their financial interests. They weren’t and aren’t making their decision based on economics, at least not that aspect of economics. We didn’t watch how Trump got their votes. It wasn’t by duping them per se. It was by respecting their concerns, which is why they’re so fanatically loyal to him still.
There is one consistent area of liberal bigotry which we tend to ignore because we don’t like to think of ourselves as bigoted. Liberals tend to look down on poor Whites, mainly I think because we view them as bigoted. They look at their world and see themselves losing control. They’re losing control economically, but the explanation as to how it got that way is pretty convoluted and involves a lot of events from the late seventies and early eighties. What they see and understand better is that they’re losing control socially, and America no longer makes sense to them. It started with civil rights and feminism, which moved quickly into Affirmative Action, where suddenly they found that their competition was inexplicably being helped by Government at the expense of what they view as Regular Americans, the guys who built America and defended it in wars that are still within living memory for many. The sixties were and remain very traumatic for this population. And then PC started and others and the press began to give them a hard time for the way they used language. Suddenly they weren’t allowed to say this and that, and for some reason they viewed it as more inexplicable than the basic obscenity censorship they always understood. They also viewed feminism as not only non-traditional but at least a bit anti-Biblical. And then gay rights happened, and now they were faced with being given a hard time for not only upholding tradition but upholding the Bible. Liberals very stupidly play into this by becoming impatient with religion itself and allowing this argument to be viewed in many circles as church vs. atheists. In other words, liberals basically gave conservatives permission to turn this into Christian Jihad, a perception reinforced heavily by Roe v. Wade.
And it gets worse and worse. Then gender identity got fluid. We’ve got people who are biologically guys insisting on using women’s bathrooms - which, in a serious episode of projecting, Trump supporters assume is a front for facilitating sexual assault. Very far from it, but Trump supporters don’t spend a lot of time talking to transgender people. The U.S. Government pays for the sex change operation of Manning, who they view as a traitor in the first place (and, in Manning’s case, I can’t say I disagree). And then there’s Mexican illegal immigration. Wait, liberals want to just let anyone over the border, regardless of what it does to our crime rate and unemployment, and give benefits that we pay for to people who are breaking our laws by being here?? Actually no, that isn’t an accurate assessment of average liberal views but we’ve managed to make it credible.
And then there’s Black Lives Matter. Why the Hell do Black lives matter more than the rest of our lives? They don’t, of course; BLM is interpreted to mean Black Lives Matter More when it actually means Black Lives Matter Too. And liberals are down on the police, who are risking their lives protecting liberals? What’s wrong with this picture?
And, in 2016, Hillary goes to West Virginia and tells people there in a speech that we’re going to close coal mines. Way to talk to poor White people – say you’re going to eliminate their jobs.
And along comes Trump. Unlike anyone else, Trump says:
You’re right about all of it.
And Trump gets elected, because someone is finally listening, someone finally gets it.
And then Trump gets into office and, utterly shockingly for a politician, says
Now that I’m President, you’re Still right about all of it.
And he means it and pushes it every day. That’s what the wall is all about – it has enormous symbolic value.
That is why he can shoot someone in Times Square in broad daylight and not lose their support. He kept the faith. He stayed loyal to his supporters. Why he goes to all those rallies – which somehow doesn’t make sense to a lot of the press because they don’t get it - is to continue to drive home the message that he’s still with them. They love him for it and will tolerate damned near anything because of it.
Yes, Trump is pandering, but pandering is preferable to ignoring, particularly to a population accustomed to being ignored and really angry about it.
Aside from Bernie, liberals tend to be tone deaf to this population. That bit us in the ass. Frankly, it should have.
We have been treating their fears as unreasonable. Whether or not they’re unreasonable, they’re real and, being real, they’re dangerous. A very wise friend of mine once told me that evil is based on fear. The longer I live, the more right he gets. People who are feared end up hated.
We’re very wrapped up in telling Trump’s supporters that the reason they fear all these people is that they’re bigoted and that they listen to fear mongers. Quite possibly true (well, in the case of fear mongers, definitely true), but the best way to talk to fearful people is not to simply tell them their fears are immoral. I get that we’re talking about a group of people who think that Christmas and Christianity are under attack because some large organizations that want to be welcoming to everyone instruct their people to say Happy Holidays. Maybe they’ve never been to a shopping mall in November or December. Maybe they have nightmares about Bill Maher putting court-ordered padlocks on their churches, I don’t know.
What I do know is that we’re much more likely to make headway if we sit them down and say:
“Have you heard anyone in a position of power suggest that you should be prohibited from worshipping? That’s when you’ll know you have a problem and, as a liberal and a non-Christian, I promise you that if that happens to you I will stand with you.”
In arguments about religion on WriterBeat, I already have.
I’m not saying Trump supporters are right. God knows I’m not saying Trump supporters are right. I am saying that Trump isn’t the problem. More than anything, I am saying that not listening closely is a bad idea. You will never win an argument with a Trump supporter by concentrating on your concerns while dismissing theirs. Fears don’t go away by being dismissed. And fears turn into votes.
I wish you all a happy and healthy new year and look forward to a lot of good conversations in 2019, particularly with people I mostly disagree with.