It's been five days since the election that utterly shocked most of our society. Wile I was hoping Trump would win the election, I was dismayed to see the Democrats lose the House. I've found my stance on this confuses a lot of people. I am not a Trump supporter (though, as I discussed in my last thread, I'm thoroughly impressed with his trolling ability.) However, a Trump win was necessary because our federal government was moving uncomfortably far to the left as evident by the complete disconnect from working class Americans. The manipulated defeat of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary perfectly illustrated the DNC cared only about pushing their golden child political elitist, and smugly assumed the party's historical base would enthusiastically support her.
By ignoring the will of the people, the party not only lost the election (and the Supreme Court seat and potential future seats), but lost the House, too. The result? We now have a president with no political experience, a shaky knowledge of most pertinent issues, and a questionable temperament. AND his party has control of both chambers of Congress, many of which owe him their seats.
That's not cool.
I'm a liberal-leaning independent who prefers my government to be neutered by political balance. I voted for Johnson for strategic reasons related to the future, which I discussed in my last post. Most of my own political views are supported and advanced when the Democrats control the presidency and have the numbers to push policy through Congress. HOWEVER, I fully realize that situation heavily favors a relatively small segment of our population (city-dwelling college-educated white liberals and the dirt-poor) and is not supported by the religious right, rural America, or the working class. The farther policy veers to the left, the more those other groups are alienated.
Obama's last term worried me a bit. I saw more and more liberals in the news, online and among my real-life friends, pushing more and more extreme liberal ideals. While this delighted me on a personal level, it troubled me.
Our political climate in the U.S., at least in my lifetime and presumably throughout history, cycles between periods of conservatism and liberalism. The farther we venture in one direction, the more pronounced the swing in the other direction. That's not a bad thing. We're a representative republic, and this cycling assures we remain stable. Sure, it sucks when your team is losing, but we just need to ride out the storm and power is returned to our team.
Well, the problem is we ventured really far to the left. The farther we went, the worse the rebound would be. When this election cycle started, Trump was a complete joke. However, it was readily apparent both he and Bernie Sanders were tapping into some extreme repressed anger that had been ignored by both the Democratic and Republican leadership. As the primaries wore on, it became apparent this was going to be a... different... election. The people who had long been ignored were making some noise. Serious noise.
My Voting Rationale
As an independent, I don't feel a particular allegiance to any given party. I tend to vote for my own self-interest, then the interest of the entirety of the masses (and not just for those who support my own world view.) Given campaign rhetoric ventures into hyperbole, I usually read between the lines to determine just how any given candidate will personally affect me. It didn't take long to conclude none of the candidates would affect my personal life in a significant way, so I considered which candidate would provide the most societal stability with the least damage. I concluded either Bernie with a GOP-controlled Senate or Trump with a Democratic-controlled House would be the best bet, mostly because both spoke to the disenfranchised segments of our population the political elite had ignored for decades.
Bernie's socialism ideas were stupid, but his charisma could unite people. And I liked most of his platform that didn't involve economic policy. He was my #1 pick, but the rigged Democratic primary killed his run. Sidebar - shame on you, Democrats. Where was the outrage when your party leadership scammed you? Anyway, that left Trump. I didn't buy into some of his batshit crazy rhetoric, which I immediately recognized as trolling to further create a divide between the pretentious liberal elite (who Hillary perfectly represents) and the working class Reagan Democrats. I wasn't going to overtly support Trump, but he was most likely going to get my vote because a) he would give a voice to the working class and rural America, and b) any of his batshit crazy ideas would be killed by a Democrat-controlled House.
Then we hit summer. And liberals started ramping up the stereotyping all Trump supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic "deplorables."
I grew up in rural Northern Michigan in a mostly-white blue-collar town that had been ravaged by the closing of the town's largest employer - a paper mill. A few years later, that same economic downturn would hit the whole state when the auto industry tanked. I know how these people think. I know how these people feel. Most importantly, I know how these people vote.
Since I left my small town, went to college, and got a white collar job, I was exposed to (and adopted) a lot of liberal ideals. I went through a period in my early 20's where I was about as obnoxious of a social justice warrior as one could imagine.
Real life has a way of tempering that, however. First, being a public high school teacher exposed me to a representative sample of the population, including the dirt-poor, the working class, farmers, while collar professionals, and the rich. I came to realize my internalized liberal ideals would never be adopted by the majority of Americans because it simply violated too many of their fundamental beliefs. Eventually I started taking a more moderate approach and became more concerned about developing compromise between the left and the right. It turned out to be relatively easy to sell my liberal ideas to conservative friends, and my conservative ideas like gun rights to my liberal friends if I took the time to understand them.
Based on how I was seeing people frame Trump supporters, I started to get worried. There was no attempt at understanding. There was no attempt at compromise. Instead, there was mainstream media-fueled outrage. The left started vilifying Trump supporters in earnest be continually referring to them as horrible people.
That perspective led me to post this in July:
I spent the rest of the election cycle imploring my liberal friends to take the time to actually befriend some Trump supporters in the hopes they'd stop the stereotyping.
It didn't happen.
Most ignored the pleas. Some debated based on the rationale that they "knew what Trump supporters were really like, so don't try to convince them otherwise." A few even defriended me.
And now we have Trump as president and the GOP controls Congress.
Worse, I see my liberal friends continuing to frame Trump supporters as horrible people instead of pausing, reflecting, assessing what went wrong, and reformulating a new strategy. This video sums up the sentiment nicely:
So where do we go from here? Liberals in general and Democrats in particular need to take steps to change course. This is what I would recommend:
- Support the working class, especially in suburban and rural America. The Democratic party I remember from my youth supported working Americans. They've lost that entire demographic as evident by their support for Trump. They will never win another election by only pandering to rich white college-educated women while tossing minorities a few crumbs.
- Stop cozying up to Wall Street. This one should be obvious, but Hillary's camp didn't quite get why Americans would have a problem with this.
- Stop vilifying white males. As I mentioned in my last post, liberals have been way too comfortable vilifying white males under the guise of "white privilege" and/or "the patriarchy." That bullshit has to stop. We're people. Until you start treating us as such and recognizing we actually have a lot of ideas on how to fix this shit, you will never win another election.
- Stop accepting policies that undermine families. Support stay-at-home moms. Stop glorifying single motherhood. Stop treating fathers like buffoons.
- Address globalization and the need for vocational education. The rust belt voted for Trump for a simple reason... the Democratic party has largely ignored the working class since early in Bill's first term. NAFTA and other free trade agreements killed our middle class, then we made the problem worse by cutting vocational education in schools. End free trade agreements and fully fund secondary vocational programs like wood, metal, and auto shop, the construction trades, and even expand to include electrician and plumbing classes.
- Abandon political correctness and identity politics. The dumbfuck idea of "political correctness" and "safe spaces" has killed our ability to engage in honest discourse because people are too fucking paranoid about being labeled a sexist, racist, homophobic... whatever. It's not a surprise the polling was so very wrong in this last election. Why would anyone publicly support Trump when they'd face the illogical, overly-emotional wrath of the Pantsuits? If you can't engage in discussion without getting offended by ideas that run counter to your delicate sensibilities, you have no right to engage in discussion. A major part of Trump's appeal is he says it like it is without dumbass coded language. Understand people hate political correctness because it's a form of intellectual control.
- Stop going after guns. Middle America actually uses guns to protect their families and put food on the table. City-dwellers who live a half mile from a police station simply can't relate, so shut the fuck up about banning guns.
- Protect religious liberty while insisting on a separation of church and state. This is a relatively small but important point. Not all Democrats are atheists. Stop treating them as such.
- Abandon feminism in favor of real equality. Eighty percent of the population has a negative view of feminism. When "manspreading" is one of your biggest complaints about gender inequality, you're grasping for straws. It's time to put that horse out of its misery. Instead, as I discussed in this post, fight for REAL equality by promoting the idea of equal opportunity and equal responsibility for all regardless of sex, gender, sexual orintation, age, race... whatever. Start treating all of us equally, not just a select few.
- Stop being fucking pussies. The Democrats just got their asses spanked in the biggest political upset in history. Their reaction? Wear safety pins on your shirt so you'll know who's safe to talk to. Are you fucking kidding me?!? The Democrats need strong leaders with progressive values who aren't afraid to throw a few punches if needed.
Will any of this happen? I seriously doubt it. I have a few friends (who unsurprisingly supported Bernie) who are actually getting to work on changing their local political party activity to better reach the working class, but the vast majority just keep their heads up their asses. I cannot count the number of times I've heard liberal friends continuing to vilify those who voted for Trump. They seemingly have no idea that most Americans think differently than them. They smugly believe they have all the answers, presumably because they live in a completely isolated bubble. If that doesn't change, we're in for a very, very long GOP rein.
Liberal friends, instead of expressing fear or outrage, instead of signing Internet petitions to scrap the electoral college, instead of holding silly protests, take some time to reflect on how YOUR actions may have contributed to ordinary Americans making the decision to vote for Donald Trump. If you support any of the ideas I listed above, strongly consider if that's really a logical stance to take. When considering the folks who may have voted for Trump, use a little empathy and some of that "open-mindedness" liberals are always claiming to possess. Think about how you'd feel if the roles were reversed. Think about what message would sell liberal Democratic ideas to a person who may have supported Trump.
Once you do that, identify five Trump supporters in your life. Go charm them. Sell your ideas to them. Don't call them stupid, racist, sexist, homophobic, Nazis, or any of the other bullshit we've all seen. Be a nice, decent human being.
THIS is how we can right this ship.
Now go do it.
Otherwise, we're in for a very long, painful eight years.