I’ve been reading a lot of self-doubt and recrimination on behalf of the liberal pundits and media on how we have to learn to include all those who voted for Donald Trump. Somehow, this communication problem is a failure to appropriately engage their concerns. I recently engaged in a Facebook discussion with one such individual. The opinion he represented seems so archetypal of republican thinking to me that I reproduce it here, with my response.
The original conservative rant: (misspellings unretouched)
“It happened because you banned super-size sodas. And smoking in parks. And offensive ideas on campus. Because you branded people who oppose gay marriage ‘homophobic’, and people unsure about immigration ‘racist’. Because you treated owning a gun and never having eaten quinoa as signifiers of fascism. Because you thought correcting people’s attitudes was more important than finding them jobs. Because you turned ‘white man’ from a description into an insult. Because you used slurs like ‘denier’ and ‘dangerous’ against anyone who doesn’t share your eco-pieties. Because you treated dissent as hate speech and criticism of Obama as extremism. Because you talked more about gender-neutral toilets than about home repossessions. Because you beatified Caitlyn Jenner. Because you policed people’s language, rubbished their parenting skills, took the piss out of their beliefs. Because you cried when someone mocked the Koran but laughed when they mocked the Bible. Because you said criticising Islam is Islamophobia. Because you kept telling people, “You can’t think that, you can’t say that, you can’t do that”. Because you turned politics from something done by and for people to something done to them, for their own good. Because you treated people like shit. And people don’t like being treated like shit. Trump happened because of you.”
Well, there it is, in all its glory. This is how Trump supporters feel. This is typical of the thinking of people with whom we have to learn to communicate.
Understanding that this was a real time exchange on Facebook, my answers are not up to the standards I normally follow when submitting content to politicalnationusa.com. Nevertheless, I think my response contains a fair distillation of reasonable answers to the points raised in the rant. My response:
Wow. Classic rant. Good job. You put 21 complaints in one post. Let me see if I have enough space to reply: It happened because
1.you banned super-size sodas.
They were banned in NY, but that has been overturned. In other places, they were taxed by bi-partisan government that doesn’t know how to stop spending so they tax everything. Not a criticism of democrats. You’re just blaming them.
2. And smoking in parks.
Iowa is a big leader of this. They voted Trump. How is this a democratic problem?
3. And offensive ideas on campus.
They aren’t banned. They are booed. Big difference.
4. Because you branded people who oppose gay marriage ‘homophobic’.
God may care about this, but it isn’t the jurisdiction of government. Political activism from religions is like the Taliban. Religion is about personal piety, not about forcing your opinion on others.
5. and people unsure about immigration ‘racist’.
People were against the Irish immigrating, and the Polish, and the Germans, and the Italians. We figured out that was silly. Now it is the Syrians, the people from the Middle East. Never learning the lesson that this fear is out of place happens for a reason. Racism/Ethnocentrism is the most obvious reason.
6. you treated owning a gun and never having eaten quinoa as signifiers of fascism.
No one treats quinoa abstinence as fascism. This is just a rant. Gun owning is not treated as fascism, it is treated as ignorant of the social consequences. This is a very long discussion, and there is no space for it here.
7. you thought correcting people’s attitudes was more important than finding them jobs.
It isn’t the governments job to find jobs for its citizens. That is an individual responsibility. The GOP is going to make it much clearer that it doesn’t care about your well being as they dismantle the social safety net. They bashed democrats for years about how the EPA kills jobs, but now that they are in charge, Mitch McConnell is saying that even when coal restrictions are lifted, it won’t bring back jobs in West Virginia.
8. Because you turned ‘white man’ from a description into an insult.
White men did that themselves by preserving white privilege over justice.
9. Because you used slurs like ‘denier’ and ‘dangerous’ against anyone who doesn’t share your eco-pieties.
“Denier” is typically used about global warming. 193 countries are on board. Are you seriously saying that the entire world’s scientists are all wrong? When 1% of scientists disagree, you should be looking at them for the problem, not at the 99%.
10. Because you treated dissent as hate speech and criticism of Obama as extremism.
It was not treated as hate speech, it was treated as hate motivated speech. When you disagree with something without acknowledging the facts, you open up to that charge. Why do people ignore the tremendous growth in the economy that occurred under Obama? From the financial crisis to today, the DOW increased to over 18000. Unemployment is down to 5% when it had been 10%. And people talk about the train wreck? They can’t acknowledge the good? Sounds like hate motivated speech to me. Maybe hatred of democrats, not hatred of African Americans, but hate nonetheless.
11. Because you talked more about gender-neutral toilets than about home repossessions.
You need to read. This was a republican issue. It was brought up in republican states. “So-called “bathroom bills” introduced by social conservatives in states such as Arizona, Maryland, Kentucky and Florida typically mandate that people use the bathroom that matches the sex on their birth certificate. ” See http://time.com/3974186/transgender-bathroom-debate/
12. Because you beatified Caitlyn Jenner.
More ranting. Certainly the LGBT community did. Others just respected it.
13. Because you policed people’s language,
Because it was hoped that stopping bad language would show everyone that stopping disrespectful speech would produce respectful attitudes.
14. rubbished their parenting skills
See point just above
15. took the piss out of their beliefs.
Religious beliefs are not enforced or certified by government. See the Taliban
16. Because you cried when someone mocked the Koran but laughed when they mocked the Bible.
This is wrong to do. But to be fair, we don’t have Muslims trying to create Sharia law here, and the Christian right is trying to enforce its view of Christianity on everyone.
17. Because you said criticising Islam is Islamophobia.
It is. By the most radical projections, only 20% of the world’s Muslims are Salafi Jihadists. Most estimates are less than 10%. The rest are Muslims also. The rhetoric about Islam is totally out of control. You are influenced by the media who profit from getting you to click on things and watch through commercials.
18. Because you kept telling people, “You can’t think that, you can’t say that, you can’t do that”.
More political correctness rant. See above.
19. Because you turned politics from something done by and for people to something done to them, for their own good.
That has indeed happened, but it happened on all sides. The polarization is clearly bipartisan.
20. Because you treated people like shit. And people don’t like being treated like shit. Trump happened because of you.
We treated behaviors as unacceptable that are unacceptable. We treat people who refuse to become tolerant and inclusive as selfish and mean spirited. “Identity politics” is the right’s way of demeaning inclusion. America needs to reach out to all the disaffected. It is most amazing that people who decry political correctness are saying that others are wrong for holding them in disrespect. Somehow the politically incorrect are ok with calling other people n****r or w*p or sp*c or po***ck, but don’t like it when they are being called “uneducated whites”, “racists”, or similar labels. Republicans hold people in disrespect for how they were born. Democrats hold people in disrespect for how they act. Figure it out.
After this post, I received the following: “believe it or not your opinions wouldn’t hold any weight in the great scheme of things and I don’t have the time or inclination to go through them one by one to tell you why, so you just carry on with your deluded views, I don’t really care what you believe.”
After this, I hope it is clear that we do NOT need to make this kind of thinking seem accepted. We do NOT want to make this thinking appear included in the Democratic Party Platform. We need to remember that our agenda was for the benefit of all Americans. We need to stand strong against those who use disingenuous rhetoric to cover over their small mindedness, meanness, hypocrisy, and greed. We need to stay true to the cause, even if we lose. We don’t want to be like the ones who won.