Trump voters are idiots and jerks who blithely voted a racist fearmonger into office - here's why we shouldn't demonize them
The election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States is one of the most horrific moments in U.S. history. A blatant racist whose election has the KKK dancing in the streets, Trump is a crude, corrupt, unqualified moron who will cause damage to this country - through his Supreme Court appointments, through his destruction of progressive programs, through his encouragment of bigotry and xenophobia - that will continue on for decades.
The people who voted for Trump should be ashamed. They have unleashed a great horror on the country, and it is little comfort that Trump's policies will wind up ruining the lives of many of his most fervent supporters.
So yeah, it is outrageous to suggest that we need to understand these people, as some are suggesting. What's to understand? These are white people whining about their lives even though many of those voters aren't suffering, demanding that the little we've given our country's minorities be taken back, that our halting attempts at equality for women be smashed. They were dumb enough to believe Trump's promises and uncaring enough to not care who got hurt. The majority of them are so racist that they think Obama is a Muslim foreigner. They are monsters.
On the other hand...
There is a problem with painting Trump voters with too broad a brush. Certainly, the worst people in America - Nazis, Klansmen, sexual assaulters - embraced him enthusiastically. But that doesn't mean everyone who voted for Trump loved everything about him.
John Scalzi posited in the Cinemax Theory of Racism that even if everyone who voted for Trump isn't actively racist, they all basically accept racism as a part of the Trump package that they can live with. And that's true. But they are not the first voters to accept the bad with the good. In 2012 I read an article by a progressive who refused to vote for Obama because he had sent out drones in the pursuit of terrorists that had killed many innocent people. For him, to vote for Obama was to say he could live with a president who would kill innocent foreigners.
I voted for Obama anyway - it wasn't like Romney was a peacenik who would end all the killing - but in doing so, I have to accept that I made a statement - to keep the Supreme Court from becoming even more conservative, to keep making progress against racism and sexism, to further a (somewhat) progressive agenda in the United States - I could live with drone strikes that killed civilians in the Middle East. I feel bad about it, but I did it, and I did it knowing I was doing it.
So if you're a conservative afraid of a liberal Supreme Court, if you believe liberal economic policies will make the country poorer, then you might say, "I really hate that Trump is calling Mexicans racists and Muslims terrorists, but I have to protect this country from a greater threat."
I might disagree with that analysis and those priorities, but I can't say I have never compromised on the perfect in favor of what I perceived as the least bad option.
I've read a fair amount about those Trump voters. My main takeaway is that they feel like government cares about everyone but them, and they're very resentful. They feel that there is affirmative action for black people, new rights for gays, and nothing for them. That they are taken for granted and undervalued and their struggles are ignored.
And if you're like a lot of my friends, your reply to that is, "Damn right I'm ignoring your so-called 'pain.' You problems are nothing compared to those of people of color. There are people getting pulled over and shot by the police while you're whining that your kid didn't get into their first-choice college. Fuck you with your slightly-lower-than-your-parents standard of living and your undeserving lazy-poor-people tropes. You white straight people are at the top of the heap, and if you're suffering, then how do you think the people without your privileges are doing right now?"
Or, to put it another way, "yes, white America, you really don't matter at all. Just shut up and vote for the Democrats."
I understand this attitude. I have had advantages in life and I feel people with less advantages deserve a boost up; that their need is greater than mine. But at the same time, I can appreciate that if you feel you are getting less so that others - no more deserving than you - can have more, then you might be annoyed.
Look at it this way. Let's say you're a kid, and every day your parents give you one cookie. Now, you have friends who get three cookies a day, so you're already a little resentful about your lot in life, but at least you get that one cookie.
Then one day your parents say, that kid next door gets no cookies, so from now on every Wednesday and Sunday we'll take your cookie and give it to him.
If you're a really noble, self-sacrificing kid, you'll be okay with that. You'll say, give him my Monday cookie as well. But if you're like most kids, you will be consumed with the unfairness of getting less cookies not because you have done anything wrong, but because someone you don't even know is just being given the cookies that have always been a part of your life.
There is a difference between not being noble and self-sacrificing and being a monster. But people who drift to the self-sacrificing side of life can forget that.
There's a big problem with the "fuck all you whiny-ass Trump voters, you're all racist monsters" attitude. By lumping everyone together like that, you make everyone in that lump unreachable. If someone came up to me and said, "you are a monster and every death caused by Obama is blood on your hands; people like you should just die, because you care about no one but yourselves," I would not listen to much that person had to say.
And we may really need those non-KKK Trump voters soon. Because there are people who were horrified by aspects of Trump but ultimately thought that voting for him would not destroy the country. They thought Trump was all talk and wouldn't really have jackbooted thugs going from house to house arresting Muslims and Mexicans.
But if they are prooved wrong, they might cool on Trump. They might say, "wow, I did not realize this would happen." And they could join the opposition to Trump.
Unless, of course, you've told them they are all privileged assholes whose concerns are stupid. In which case, why exactly would they want to join with you?
The fact is, white people do have problems, because everyone has problems. If you're white, you are less likely to be shot by a cop, but it can still happen. Innocent white people get shot by cops. White people get sick and go bankrupt paying medical bills. White people lose their jobs. And you can't insist that people shouldn't complain about their problems because others are suffering more. If you lose a child, you don't want to hear, "that's nothing, I lost my whole family, quit whining."
I don't excuse people for voting for Trump. They did a terrible thing, for terrible reasons, and will cause irreparable harm to this country. But I still believe we need to understand their views and listen to their complaints. Because the fact is, as they just proved, they can vote in big enough numbers to put a fascist in the White House. And if Democrats don't try and understand and communicate with them, then in four years they will give him a second term.