dexeron: (Angst)
[personal profile] dexeron
Although my Livejournal is, in general, friends-only, I've made this post public so that I can link others to it from other platforms.

---

Yesterday, I talked to folks who should have voted for Clinton but didn't. Today I'd like to talk to Trump supporters, because there are a couple of things that I feel you need to understand, and also a couple of things I feel that you have an obligation to do.

I'm not here to point fingers or accuse anyone of racism. That would be, of course, a gross over-simplification, and an easy dismissal of the very real economic and political conflicts that created this situation. But all that being understood, I think there are some things that every Trump voter needs to be willing to admit.

1. You may not be a racist, but racists loved Trump and, now that he has won, are coming out of the woodwork to an unprecedented degree. Black people are being harassed, Muslims are being physically assaulted, synagogues are being vandalized, and the literal KKK is walking through neighborhoods openly distributing flyers.

Why do these hateful people feel so emboldened, when up until recently it was considered shameful to act this way in public? No small part of that has been Trump's own words. He willingly encouraged their words and behavior at his rallies. He publicly denounced David Duke and the KKK, but happily continued to re-tweet images and memes both from them and from other hate groups, repeated lies that furthered their narrative, and basically did everything possible not to alienate them as potential voters. When his supporters shouted things, like calls to kill President Obama, he did not shout them down, and he insulted protesters (and said nothing while his own supporters physically assaulted them. Contrast with Obama's professional and respectful response to a protester at his rally last week.)

All of these things emboldened the most despicable elements among Trump supporters, and while Clinton might have been wrong in calling half of his supporters a "basket of deplorables," I think it would be dishonest to deny that at least some of his supporters are simply terrible, hateful, violent people. The same is true for any large group, be it Republican, Democrat, Christian, Muslim. The problem is when such groups are not actively discouraged, but are instead encouraged.

Now that Trump has won the Presidency, these people feel that they've won as well, that they have power once again, that they can finally be honest. Trump supporters have insisted, for months, that they are not racist, that they have had other good reasons to vote for him. It was unfair of Democrats to try to assume that racism was the only reason to vote for Trump. However, Democrats were not the only ones to make that assumption. The racists also believe that! They think that Trumps victory was your tacit approval of them. They feel like a majority of America has said: "Yes, it's OK for you to come back out of hiding." And now they are out there ripping the scarves off of women's heads and brandishing firearms at black women at gas stations. Everyone I know has either experienced this sort of thing first hand, or has a friend who has. They are out there, and they think this is now their country. I myself heard a Trump supporter gleefully shouting racial epithets yesterday from his car window while we were all stopped at a red light.

Whether or not you think Trump's policies were better, you must face the fact that under a Trump Presidency, certain groups are now more vulnerable. Minorities, women, LBGTQ, immigrants, refugees: all of these groups are at risk, both from these hate groups and also from many of the proposed policies promised in Trump's first 100 days in office. And while we can argue about those policies and whether they are actually harmful (or whether certain levels of "harm" are justified to serve a greater good,) what cannot be argued or excused is the behavior of these hate groups. Violence and harassment cannot just be hand-waved away, and I think every Trump supporter, if they are going to be honest, needs to at least understand that this is happening. More on this towards the end of my post.

2. When you lament that we liberals and Democrats are being so "mean" on Facebook, or are refusing to come together in unity to support the new President, the anger and fear we feel towards these group is a large part of the reason why. The behavior of Republicans in the past is another reason. We spent eight years hearing loud voices screaming that our President was a traitor, a secret Muslim, and not even American. The current "Not My President" hashtag is horrible, but we did not invent it. While I will never say those words (I respect our Constitution, and will support our nation's structures even if I disagree with our Commander in Chief on policy,) to act as if Democrats are somehow villainous because they're simply copying the Republican playbook of the last decade is beyond dishonest. Republicans played obstructionism games for years; to turn around and condemn the Democrats because some are calling for more of the same is beyond hypocrisy. I'll call these sorts of things out myself when I see my own side doing it, because if it's wrong when one side does it, it's wrong for all sides. Wrong is wrong, but don't pretend you're shocked and offended and surprised when you see it, and don't you dare try to use this as a justification for how your side is so much better than the Democrats. You know damn well where this comes from, and the answer is in the mirror.

Plus, it is literally two days since the election. Give us a little time to work through this before you jump up on that high horse, alright? Let's put away the double-standards, especially if you're going to have the nerve to call for "unity."

3. If someone points out a legitimate concern about Trump, the answer is not to point at Clinton. Clinton may or may not have been a good President, but she didn't win. Trump did. His policies are what should now concern us. "Oh, you'd rather have had Clinton?" is not an answer to a legitimate criticism. And bringing up Wikileaks is no answer either. Wikileaks may have never posted anything that was "false," but they did their damnedest to present that information in such a way that things that were quite innocuous looked downright insidious. Despite every Wikileaks release, it was never shown that Clinton was corrupt, that she ever broke the law, that she rigged the primary election, or any of the tons of baseless accusations levied against her. None of it was true. None of it. Julian Assange, because of his personal gripe against Hillary Clinton, meddled in our election, and we let him do it, and his favored candidate won. I'm not going to claim that he was personally responsible for Trump's victory, but he certainly had some impact in depressing voter turnout on behalf of Clinton. In doing so, he served the interests of the Russian government (perhaps not intentionally, but certainly happily.) Let's not hold up the actions of an operative meddling in our affairs on behalf of a foreign government as something to be lauded.

Like I said, forget about Clinton. Trump is the President-elect, and we need to grapple now with what he wants to do. When we bring up concerns like Pence's support for gay-conversion therapy, Trump's climate-change denial (and intention to place as head of the EPA someone who also is a denier,) or the GOPs plans to ram through complete reversals of Roe v. Wade, the Voting Rights Act, and the Affordable Care Act, it's not much of a counterargument to bring up DNC internal politics or Clinton's email server. Argue policy if you want to defend a policy; tu quoque is a logical fallacy and unworthy of a serious political discussion.

4. Some others of you are trying to preach patience, pointing out that conservatives in 2008 were terrified of Obama taking away guns, taxing the rich, gutting business and putting in place communism, yet none of that happened. I understand your point. You're saying that fears of Obama as being the "end of America" were, ultimately, silly, and people who bought into such rhetoric were themselves silly for doing so. Perhaps our own fears are likewise unfounded, and we shouldn't allow ourselves to be carried away. There is some wisdom in such cautions. But understand that fears of Obama never came from things he said he was going to do. All of those doomsday predictions were things said about him, by his opponents during the election (and throughout his tenure.)

Trump, in contrast, has said he will do these things, in speeches, in rallies, and in interviews. They are words from his own mouth. That is why we are so concerned about his policies. This does not come from pundits, conspiracy theorists, or internet memes, but from his own mouth.

----

I want to leave you with two thoughts.

1. Understanding all of this, I want you to view the anger and fear coming from Democrats with a more honest perspective. Democrats aren't "hateful" or "intolerant" any more than you are, and I think you know quite well that such blanket portrayals are just convenient tools of people looking to dehumanize the opposition and get more votes. Don't fall for that. Be better than that. The people on your feed, or at work, or in your family, or out on the street marching are literally scared. Consider that they might live very different lives than you do. They might actually be at risk by some of what Trump has proposed (I know someone with a life-threatening condition who only finally got insurance because of the ACA. If the ACA goes away, so does his coverage because of his "pre-existing condition," and he will go back to a slow, lingering death sentence because he can't afford the medication that addresses it.)

For years, the Democrats ignored your plight, your economic woes - pretended that your concerns did not even really exist. The real concerns of lots of conservative families facing economic woes were dismissed by a lot of Democrats, and their support for Trump (as the only possible option for change that they could see) portrayed as the hateful actions of intolerant bigots. Think about how unfair that sort of broad-brush condemnation was. Think about what an insult that was to thousands of hard-working Americans. Now turn that around. Consider that maybe you don't know the woes of the people so upset by Trump's victory. When we are angry or afraid in the coming months, understand that this is where it comes from: honest concerns about our own friends, family, and nation. Feel free, of course, to disagree with us about what policies are best, but don't dehumanize us by pretending that we're just mean and intolerant.

You want us to join you in unity? Start by recognizing our humanity.

2. You voted for Trump. You got what you wanted. You must own that, all of it. If he does well, if the country thrives, I will be there with you cheering him on. But you voted for him, and along with him came the ugliness of hate groups and racists feeling that their time has come. You voted for him, and with that comes a responsibility. You may not be a racist, but it is your job to help fight them. You voted for Trump. You must stand up whenever you see people harassing someone because of their skin color, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. If you see this going on around you, and you remain silent, you are complicit.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Trump might have won, but remember: Clinton got more votes, if only barely. Yet while this Presidential race was close, what's not close are American's feelings on the major issues of the day. A huge majority of Americans still supports equal rights. A huge majority supports gay marriage. A huge majority supports reproductive choice and freedom. A huge majority accepts the reality of climate change, and wants us to do something to combat it. The fact that this large majority did not come out to vote is a shame, but Trump's victory has convinced the bigots and racists that such a majority does not exist. Their silence was taken by the hateful as a surrender, and the bigots now believe that they are actually in the majority.

Do not let them get away with it. Call them out. Stand up to them. If you voted for Trump, yet refuse to stand up in the face of bigotry, then you can call yourself whatever you want, but for all intents and purposes it doesn't matter; you might as well be a racist if you refuse to stand up to them. Silence is assent.

Note that at no point did I call you, or any specific Trump voter, a racist. What I am doing here is offering the chance to prove to America that you are not one, to put those Democrats who painted with such a large brush in their place.

You want unity, I will be happy to grant it to you, but understand one thing: I will never support policies that I feel harm my fellow human beings (especially the most vulnerable among us,) nor will I remain silent in the face of violence and bigotry. I would hope that all of the Trump supporters I know, regardless of our policy disagreements, share these same basic ideals, because they are not Democratic ideals or Republican ideals. They are human ideals.

Show me that you share these human ideals, extend to me the same basic human decency you extend to people who agree with you, and while I may never agree with you on policy, I'll still be happy to work with you over next four years.

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Daniel Lustig

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