Please note that when I say “you” in the following remarks, I mean only some of you, and I’m pretty sure you know who you are.
Facebook has been full of memes and comments about the evilness of the Trump voter, generally taking the form, “Why should I be kind to them?” as if deciding whether or not to “be kind” were a finished political position.
In my opinion, social class determines interest, and in the long run is far more significant in every way that matters than what someone is thinking at any given moment; revolutions have more far-reaching effects than elections. But, hey, let’s forget that; let’s pretend that what people are thinking is the key determining factor. I’ll play that game with you.
So, what is the thinking of those who voted for Secretary Clinton? To even ask the question in that way is hopeless. We all know very well that those who filled in that box and pulled those levers were all over the map in terms of why they did so.
“She has advocated policies that I believe to be good.”
“Whatever happens, having a woman in the White House will be a step forward.”
“Trump has threatened to target groups I care deeply about.”
“I’ve voted Democrat all my life, and I’m not changing now.”
“She is obviously more competent than Trump, and as a Patriotic American, I value competence.”
“I can’t vote for a climate change denier.”
“Trump is too irresponsible to be permitted access to nuclear codes.”
“I’d love to vote for Trump because he recognizes my problems, but he’s such a bigoted asshole I just can’t.”
“Yes, she has committed terrible human rights violations, but Trump will commit those same acts plus worse.”
“My hamster would do less damage than Trump, and is smarter and has more integrity.”
“She will continue the policies of President Obama and I approve of those policies.”
“She will continue the policies of President Obama but I’m voting for her anyway because Reasons.”
“The Supreme Court; ’nuff said.”
“Bernie promised that she will do something about income disparity.”
“One’s corrupt, the other personifies corruption. Guess I’ll go with the corrupt.”
“I’ve hated every Trump supporter I’ve ever met.”
“I’ve hated every Trump supporter I’ve ever met even though I’ve never met one.”
“I hate her, but Bernie said it’s important to vote for her, and that’s good enough for me.”
“Russia has been The Enemy since I was a kid, so if Russia is supporting Trump, I’m against him.”
“Lies, lies, lies. She never did anything wrong and anyone who says otherwise is being sexist.”
And so on. There is, as we see, a huge range of reasons in the case of voting for Secretary Clinton. Why is it, then, that when it comes to the Trump voter, you create this image in your mind of not only who he is, but exactly why he voted for Trump? He is a white male (obviously) and a sexist, and a bigot, and homophobic. Or, at any rate, doesn’t have problems with racism and sexism and homophobia, because that is all Trump ever talked about and no one could possibly see it any different.
It does not seem to occur to you that, just as some of you were in denial about or excused or justified or ignored Secretary Clinton’s Wall Street connections, her actions in Haiti, in Libya, in providing enthusiastic aid to President Clinton’s racist and anti-working class “war on drugs,” that some of these people were in denial about or excused or justified some of Trump’s positions.
Of course, if your goal is to feel morally superior, then fine, please keep your image of the Trump voter intact and move on with your life. And if your political position starts and ends with the question of whether to “be kind,” then feel free to be kind or not be kind to whomever you please.
But we are now living in a country in which the chief executive officer is a fascistic demagogue, and in which police state measures are being introduced even faster than I had thought they would be. I beg to submit that to fight him effectively is going to take hard work, it is going to take organizing, it is going to take thinking things through, and it is going to take some of the 63 million people who voted for him. I further beg to submit that immense numbers of them will come to hate him, and for good reason. If fighting Trump seems more important than feeling morally superior, then it might be worth your while to consider that there might be more going on in the thinking of those 63 million people than the image of them you’ve created in your head.
I freely admit, this can be dangerous. It might lead you toward questions you don’t care to look at, such as, how far has capitalism degenerated when such an election can take place, an election that was conducted somewhere below the level of discourse one finds in a junior high locker room? You might need to consider that such easy answers to what happened as, “The Republicans lied,” ignore the fact the Republicans (and the Democrats, but skip that) have been lying for decades. You might need to consider that there have been Trump equivalents floating around for at least a century, but now, at this point in history, one got elected. You might need to consider, why did so many people find the idea of “more of the same” so utterly unacceptable? You might start thinking that glib answers such as, “they’re racists,” and “they’re sexist” bring up more questions than they answer. You might come to realize that the machinations and maneuvering of the two parties of big business are far more a reflection of and reaction to the state of capitalism than a determinate. You might even discover the immense suffering of those people who you’ve been assured have no problems except what’s in their heads.
Winter is coming. Things are going to get worse before they get better. We have not yet had Trump’s version of the reichstag fire, but it doesn’t take a psychic to predict it. People’s thinking changes in response to changing conditions. In case you haven’t noticed, conditions are changing really fast right now. This is exactly the moment when serious, thoughtful, principled intervention can have the greatest effect.
As Trump’s attacks on the working class increase in intensity, so will resistance against him. Many of those 63 million people will be on the front lines of that resistance. Where will you be?