If you’ve been on the internet this week (and you can be forgiven for not), you’ve probably seen this tweet in one form or another:
Not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn’t a deal-breaker. End of story. https://t.co/VU3OdGdWNP
— Charles Gaba (@charles_gaba) November 11, 2016
It’s been shared almost 24,000 times on Twitter alone, not to mention the versions of it floating around Tumblr and Facebook. What it states is undisputably true, but “end of story”? No, this is the beginning of the story, not the end.
The finality of this message and others like it that Clinton voters are voicing online is baffling. Even worse is this one, a revision of a meme promoting unity, now promoting the opposite.
I realize Clinton voters are having a hard time understanding how they lost, but this kind of self-segregation from (slightly less than) half the voters in the country is the opposite of the solution.
Democrats didn’t see their stunning loss coming, not because Trump voters live in a “fictional universe”, as Daniel thinks, but because they do too. Inside the liberal bubble, there is nothing worse than “racism, misogyny, or xenophobia”. In reality, needless to say, those things are abominable blights on humanity and scourges on our society. But in that same reality they aren’t the only concern voters have.
Democrats didn’t understand this, so they campaigned against Trump’s various transgressions against multiculturalism as if it would be a universally understood axiom and no one could possibly consider voting for him. But his opponent was Hillary Clinton, and for a sufficient enough number of voters, no amount of uncivil speech was enough to look past 30 years of machine-processed corruption, graft, arrogance, elitism, and double standards. Among voters who disapproved of both major-party candidates, Trump won 2-to-1.
Trump’s racism, know-nothingism, and total con job of conservatism was too much for me; I didn’t vote for him. I considered it a matter of principle. But individuals have different principles and different priorities; they aren’t universal. I would think the party of diversity would understand that.
Trump voters supported him on different principles. Some we agree with, some we disagree with, some of which were total fabrications. Democrats aren’t immune from this either. President Obama ran 8 years ago as a civil libertarian peacenik anti-corporate progressive. Then he got into office and expanded the surveillance state, kept secret unaccountable kill lists, waged undeclared unilateral drone warfare across the entire Muslim world, and forced every American to purchase products from the same insurance companies that he said his health care plan would cripple.
Does that make every Obama 2012 voter a warmonger? A corporatist? An authoritarian? Does every current admirer of FDR “excuse” the Japanese internment? Does ever progressive fan of Woodrow Wilson “excuse” segregation? Of course not. Nor is every Trump voter a racist “deplorable”.
As technically right as it was, “deplorables” was probably Hillary’s “47%” moment and in the same way her undoing.
— Matthew DesOrmeaux ⚜ (@authoridad) November 9, 2016
Hillary Clinton labeled half of Trump’s voters that, claiming they were full of “racism, misogyny, or xenophobia”, as Daniel did above. She then apologized, saying it probably wasn’t half. After all, only 29% of South Carolina Republicans wish the South had won the Civil War…
But now Democrats have seen the lesson of their candidate writing off a significant portion of an admittedly vile and detestable candidate’s voters and losing for it, and they’ve decided the only solution is to double down and write them all off instead.
If you want to keep losing elections (and friends, neighbors, customers, potentially profound life experiences), by all means, carry on. If you want to heal our bitterly divided nation, as you cynically proclaimed we would have to do just before your candidate lost, you might try something different instead.
A Huffington Post contributor has a suggestion.
I know that you, my loving, caring, rational loved ones, didn’t vote for him because he said these things. That these were not the positions you stood behind, but the sad truth is, for some it was. You can see it in extreme cases, but it is there. The previously quiet and voiceless extremists, the KKK, the neo-Nazis, and just your garden variety closeted racist, they think they have found a voice in Trump. And the sad reality, even if you believe he doesn’t stand for that himself, he has yet to stand in opposition of it. And we need him to. We need you to constantly hold him to the high moral standards that you yourself uphold. For whatever reason you voted for him, it wasn’t to support hatred, so don’t let it stand.
People who voted for Trump despite his expressions of racism and other faults, not because of them, must become allies in the ongoing fight for equality, not enemies. Now that Trump has won, no one should have a problem condeming his hiring of white supremacist Steve Bannon, for example.
Presidents don’t deserve unflinching devotion; they are servants of the people, not rulers of us. The desire to stand by your candidate (whether chosen or by default) no matter what during an election campaign is understandable. After the election, a free people must unmoor themselves from factionalism and demand accountability of their new leaders. We can only do that together; explicitly eliminating 60 million potential allies from your struggle guarantees failure, not progress.