I’ve been thinking a lot about the questions of what it means to vote for Trump and who the Trump supporters are. I’ve seen lots of posts about how Trump won because he spoke to the working class, and the working class wants change and human dignity. There are some who say that making this about race and homophobia is a mistake… that it is an attempt to tarnish the good people who voted for Trump, to write them off as “deplorables” rather than to hear their legitimate concerns. On the other hand, we now have Christian supremists and probably white surpremists working in the white house. Can we really expect people to say, “aww, ya, I guess your economic straights justified voting that guy in…. I know you’re a nice person at heart.” I read people saying that people shouldn’t view Trump voters as ignorant. Yet they’ve voted for a guy who basically promised them unicorns with no idea even of how the white house works. How can that be anything but ignorance?
Yet then there is that question of how do people turn others into allies. Does calling out racism push others into defensiveness and create more racism? (Shouldn’t people have a responsibility to not be racist, regardless of whether they were insulted someone called them racist?) I see all these questions being asked by people struggling to cope with the election. Is it just liberal guilt run amok, that people struggle so much with this? I’m envious, in a way, of those who say clear cut look, this Trump is insane, we can’t act as though this was a normal election where we have to respect differences of opinions.
How do we love someone who does something that hurts us? How do we interact with people who rejoice in something that brings us harm?
I know one of the responses to this would be to say “oh, Trump isn’t really harming people…” I’m sure that those who have been attacked by Trump supporters would disagree. Trump’s very election harms people, in that it has communicated the message that even if a man is accused by multiple people for sexual assault, he’s still qualified. It harms people in that it sends the message that it is ok to voice racist arguments. Those are two ways it harms people even before inauguration. We have yet to see what harm could come about after he actually takes power, but I’m not comforted by those that say “oh, he’s not really as bad as he sounds.” So far he has proven to be exactly as unprepared for being a president as he sounded and he is surrounding himself by incredibly awful, hateful people. So if you want to tell me he’s not really harming anyone…. good luck.
Back to the original issue, I was thinking about the show The View. I’ve only watched it once, in a doctor’s waiting room. It was right after an attack on a black church in the States, and the panelists were talking about whether America is racist. One white woman on the show said she knows Americans aren’t racists because racists are bad people, and Americans are good. Americans are good. Her logic was appalling, but I think about it now as I read things with people struggling to make sense of the election. I wonder how much the people denying that voting for Trump is a vote for racism, sexism and homophobia are doing so out of that same sort of logic. They believe America is good and are trying to find a way to keep that belief. If America is good, and so many Americans voted for Trump, then voting for Trump must be good too, somehow. It is dangerous flawed logic to start on the premise that America is good and work from there.
The call to not be divisive, to not portray Trump voters as anything but good people making their own personal best choices, ends up trying to brush aside and ignore the fact those personal choices are hurting others. Who to vote for is not the same as what to order in a restaurant or what style of peanut butter you want. It has consequences beyond the individual person. We can’t paint over the damage done (and damage likely to happen) to prevent any blame from being placed on those who voted for him. Americans might be good people, but an awful lot of them did a bad thing, and as much as they might try to say they personally aren’t racist, they were willing to support racists. Where the difference is between racists and their supporters are, I do not know.
We cannot wish Trump voters out of existence. Painting them as racist is divisive. Pretending that race did not effect things is dangerous, wishful thinking. How do you handle the issue?
This post was inspired by this facebook picture: https://www.facebook.com/abra.mims/posts/10157628077775567