If you voted for Donald Trump for any reason, you are a racist misogynist pig.
I don’t actually think that, but a fair number of people I like and respect clearly believe that I should think that, so I am trying it on.
Just didn’t like or trust Hillary? Racist misogynist pig.
Fed up with the status quo you feel she represented? Racist misogynist pig.
Frustrated that your standard of living has fallen and after eight years of Barack “hope-and-change” Obama it is still falling? Racist misogynist pig.
Habitual, single-issue super-conservative on something like abortion? Racist misogynist pig.
Female, Latino, or African-American? Self-hating racist misogynist pig.
All right then. Leaving room for the votes still being counted, this leaves us with somewhere north of 61 million racist misogynist pigs.
That’s quite a sty we’ve got going here.
I don’t mean to be flippant. I am painfully aware of the stubborn knot of bigotries that held Donald Trump’s candidacy together while tearing the country apart. Perhaps wishfully, though, I just can’t bring myself to believe that the American electorate is quite so pervasively porcine. But even — no, especially — if it is, what is the basis for believing that adopting a tone of blanket hostility toward 61 million citizens will make the racial implications of that any less troubling?
Yes, odd though it seems, it is hostility that is being widely touted as the path to healing. In Slate, among other places, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are getting blowback for “screwing up the resistance” by taking a good-faith stab at drawing some distinction between the economic-frustration strands and the racial-animus ones in the pro-Trump morass. And it’s not just Democratic leaders who are being warned off finding any common ground with Trump. The rank-and-file are also being exhorted not to find any with his supporters. All of them, several truly wonderful people on my Facebook feed have been admonishing me to cast out, all of them. As it happens, my last post headlined the exact opposite point of view, urging a widespread, heartfelt effort at some mutual understanding — so I’ve been taking a little flak, too.
Wow. If there is any feeling more bizarre to me than the feeling of waking up on November 9 to the phrase “president elect Trump”, it has got to be that of getting lectured for being insufficiently upset with those who voted for him.
Once more for the record: I loathe our president-elect and dread his inauguration. I feel a disembodied level of horror that a candidate can have made any, let alone all, of the crude and bigoted remarks that Trump has made and still become president. I would like to haul the famed anti-Clinton clique of the FBI in front of a panel of minority assault and harassment victims and make them explain this year’s 67 per cent increase in anti-Muslim attacks alone. I read tales from the transition (Bannon to the West Wing…Muslim Registry Rumored…Giuliani Might Get State) and fear that my insides will eat themselves.
Even apart from all that, I perceive Trump’s economic and foreign-policy plans, to the degree that he has any, to run the gamut from incoherent to terrifying. To me, his stated positions on social issues are just the poison-dipped cherry on top.
Yet more than sixty-one million Americans voted for him. What do we do with that?
To me, that is a hard question. For many others, apparently, it’s easy. Their answer is: realize that all Trump voters are racist misogynist pigs (see above) and leave it at that, unless and until they see the error of their ways. This poses no political problem because in the future, the reasoning goes, Democrats are never going to need any of those voters, anyway. (That seems a little optimistic, given the number of Latinos Trump pulled, so…hmmm…)
Whatever: I don’t even care about the political math yet. What I care about right now is how to be in this country. How to think about our politics going forward. How to write about it. How to explain it to my daughter. How to explain it to myself.
This brings me to a line of criticism that I sometimes used to take back in my journalism days. The criticism was that I should stop bending over backwards to explicate political figures and factions who deserved simply to be branded as plain old reprehensible, whether they were Al Sharpton boosters in Brooklyn or Muqtada al-Sadr acolytes in Baghdad. My response to that always was: How am I supposed to understand what’s happening if I make no effort to understand the people who are making it happen? How can I understand said people without talking to them? And why would they bother talking to me if I have pre-discounted the possibility that any of them might have anything of value to say?
If that was my thinking as a reporter, why shouldn’t it be my thinking as a person?
False equivalence alert: I am in no way suggesting that, for example, Jamelle Bouie’s recent pieces in Slate are just the anti-Trump side of the hate-speech-and-swastikas coin that Trump has undeniably tossed into the American air. One is evil, the other wrong-headed. But at this moment, it’s a pretty big thing on which to be wrong-headed.
Does anyone else see an irony in the fact that Democrats can be so clear-eyed on the reality that eleven million undocumented immigrants are simply too many to prosecute or deport — yet some of us can feel so confident that 61 million Trump voters aren’t too many to write off ? Our side has just been blindsided by the realization that so many people quietly pulled the lever for a candidate they did not feel they could openly support. Does anybody else question the wisdom of just shouting all those people back into the shadows?
Again, I am all for shouting at Trump supporters. Believe me, I’ve been doing plenty of it myself. The difference is, I want them to shout back — not so much loud, but clear, and with maximum detail.
Once that initial, absolutely called-for contretemps has been had, exactly what are Hillaryites of conscience supposed to do to the Trumpsters in our midst? Shun them? Declare that unless and until they disavow their votes, we are going to disavow them? Boycott their businesses? Deport them, if only in our minds?
Truly sickened as I am by the prospect of a Trump presidency, I utterly reject that approach. Some of my absolute-favorite fellow liberals embrace it. That is their right. But I can’t help but ask, in a spirit of great respect and shared heartbreak: Who does that sound like?