How All of Us ─ From Left to Right ─ Helped Put Trump in Office

peter-finch

 

Yes, I know. Quite the attention grabbing headline. I did that on purpose, of course. But for three days now, I’ve been watching my country implode, my friends “unfriend” each other, and even an eight-year-old girl be uninvited to a birthday party because of how her parents voted. And that wasn’t a virtual block. It was real. Everyone’s upset, even some of the people who voted for Trump, it seems.

So why did this happen? Why did a man ─ a third party candidate of one, essentially ─ win over so many voters? It doesn’t matter that Clinton won the popular vote. We have an electoral college in this country, and Trump won that. But before I tell you why I personally think that happened, you might want to know from whom this essay comes, so you can consider the source.

I’m a writer who promotes my work mostly online. In that endeavor, I’m in contact with thousands of people across the United States and other countries too, daily. That’s not an exaggeration. And while I might not be actively chatting with that many, I am connected to that many, and I read what they write ─ their thoughts on everything from McDonald’s All Day Breakfast to gun control. You name it, the people I’m in contact with write about it, and they’re from all walks of life. My friends and followers lists, I’m proud to say, include everyone from a funny and talented transvestite liberal who lives in San Francisco, to an incredibly kind, wealthy Christian conservative minister from Texas.  (And guess what? They don’t call each other mean names. In fact, they exchange silly puns. They tag each other on them, and then me, because I think puns are hilarious too.)

On many things, I’m so far left it’s hard to get of bed in the morning, on others…well…my liberal friends might be concerned that I have fascist tendencies. (I don’t.) As far as my religious beliefs, much to my son and husband’s amusement, both dead-sure atheists, I’ve seen what I believe is evidence to the contrary, and let’s just say, I like to keep my options open. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover in a number of versions, and have even taken classes on it. Oh, and let me not forget to also put in that I oppose ─ vehemently ─ drones dropping bombs on people, no matter what the excuse, that I believe in the space program as well as in the scientists who tell us we’re screwing the crap out of our environment. I’m a committed and active supporter of gay rights. I think we should let Edward Snowden come home. I’m against NSA spying. I’m pro-choice and pro civil rights. I think there are indeed some people who are taking advantage of our welfare system, just as I think there are billionaires and corporations who are paying off Congress to write our tax laws. Speaking of, almost everyone in politics, no matter red or blue, is self-serving, and as crooked as a dog’s hind leg, in my opinion. I also come from blue-collar, middle-class parents, one of whom was an immigrant to the United States, and they were as insular and xenophobic as most other ethnic groups. I taught children of immigrants too, and I believe I can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that I understand their various outlooks on a number of things. As for my personal achievements, letters behind my name, etc., you can find that out on my website, if you care to look. My perceptions have nothing to do with my education, and everything to do with my exposure to different peoples, and I dare say, my eagerness to speak with them and learn how they’re different than I, and why they think and behave as they do. I hope this exposure gives me a broader perspective, but failing that, then I hope it at least makes me a better writer.

Despite all of the above, you might still think, when I say that liberals were just as responsible for the debacle of the 2016 Presidential election as the far right, that my evidence is anecdotal. And maybe you’d be right. I also present this theory with a caveat: I’m not blind to the fact that there are racist, homophobic, sexist misogynists who also voted for Donald Trump, and they are responsible for themselves. And speaking to those people first: if you voted for him with an agenda in mind of subduing everyone in the United States who isn’t white, male, wealthy, and straight, well, good luck with that. You’re in for the fight of your life, and I’ll be right on the front lines until old age drags me off.

But as to the rest, here’s what I read and heard from too many people on the left in the years leading up to this election:

1) Utter disregard, contemptuously expressed, for anyone who even mentions a mainstream Christian ideal, or who says they’re “pro-life.”

When we ignore or belittle other people’s ideals, it scares them and makes them feel unheard. Scared, unheard people can be dangerous. Just hear me out on this for a moment: You believe that life doesn’t begin with conception and that a woman’s body is hers and hers alone, even when an embryo is growing in her womb. Fair enough. But the other person is equally as sure that abortion is murder, and that to be party to pro-choice legislation is to be party to murder. Dismissing this, as many liberals have, as being wrong-headed and interfering is myopic. People don’t get talked out of beliefs by being dismissed. No, in fact, they become all the more adamant about them. Just as you will push hard to protect your reproductive rights, so will the other person on the other side push hard to protect what they see as the rights of that embryo. We have to hear each other if we want progress, and we have to accept that if we don’t want legislation that is going to be largely one way or the other— meaning that one group of American voters has beaten another group into resentful compliance, something which we should know by now never works ─ we’re going to have to come to some sort of uneasy alliance, where neither side gets exactly what they think is right, but gets what they can tolerate.

Of course, this will never happen. This dance of one wins this time, the other next, will go on forever. And to my mind, neither side ever actually “wins” in that scenario. In a society where people who live together must agree on a system under which to live as a giant group, you don’t win if you’ve injured someone else so emotionally in order to get what you want. We can disagree with ideologies without mocking them. People dislike being mocked more than they dislike…well, being disliked.

And that goes both ways. If you were one who was gloating in 2012, and you’re one who is gloating now in 2016, you guys are part of the huge problem we have in the United States. Because we are such a power in the world, United States politics should not be looked at as one sports team against another. We are not on opposite teams. We are not enemies. We are all Americans.

2) The unshakable belief that Republicans and Conservatives are “stupid,” and/or “evil.”

We see someone blow up innocent people “in the name of Islam” (a bullshit excuse, by the way) and we say they’re misunderstood. That they’ve been so downtrodden by American foreign policy that they’ve gotten desperate enough to commit these reprehensible acts to others and to themselves. (Okay, I concede that part might be partially true.) We preach love and understanding towards those people, and yet, someone who simply votes Republican is “evil?” Here’s the definition of “evil” according to Oxford: “Profoundly immoral and malevolent, corrupt and depraved.” So to liberals who bandy that commentary about all over social media, the Republican farmer in rural America who votes Republican because that happens to be the party that most protects their livelihood, a livelihood which feeds us all, is “evil?” Or the guy out in the middle of nowhere who doesn’t want to lose his rifle because he might maybe need it to defend himself against the thief that comes in the middle of the night when the nearest sheriff’s office is twenty-five miles away ─ that guy is “evil?” Read about all the people who voted Republican this time around. They are a varied group of people. Why did they do it? Why not ask instead of assuming, and listen to the answer, with an open heart and a mind eager to learn? How do we not know by this point in human history that by calling one group—any group at all —“evil” that we’re starting a war? And that is essentially what has been started with this election: A civil war.

Additionally, the commentary by “journalists” that I’ve been reading about the “uneducated” who voted in this election for Donald Trump ─ really? How pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-benevolent can you be? Let me guess, Mr. Expert Knickers – you’re one of those people who says we all have to take care of the poor, and yet, when the poor show up in Walmart at 3 a.m. wearing all they have to wear ─ their Sunday best, if you will ─ you’re the same person who snaps a photo of them and uploads it to Instagram so your friends can laugh behind their hands, right? Or maybe you’re one of the teachers of America who votes Democrat but despises all their inner city pupils because they can’t read very well, and it’s too much of an effort for you to help them learn? Before we point fingers and call “ignorance” let’s look to ourselves and try to see what we’re not seeing at the moment. No one is that all-knowing. Even Oz was full of shit. 

But if you’re that sure that it’s stupidity that motivates most people besides you and your like-minded friends, that’s too bad for all of us, because once again, you’ve rejected the ideology and the concerns of half of the living, breathing, hurting, bleeding human beings who live in the same country as you do. If we want a country that’s not as dysfunctional as family Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws, we need to listen to everyone’s concerns, smart or otherwise. (With the exception of zealots who need compassion too, but also more than likely psychological treatment.) When we preach that the Democrat party is the party of inclusion, we need to remember to include that eight-year-old little girl who might one day vote Republican. And the guy in Walmart wearing his mother’s tiger-print spandex. Otherwise, it’s just more of us speaking rhetoric when in actuality, we’re bigots too. 

3) Forcing a candidate down the throats of voters who clearly didn’t want the candidate

Yeah, this one will really sting, and I’m sorry. But just for today, I’m not being diplomatic. Just for today, in this essay, I’m calling it as I see it, and let the chips fall where they may: I liked some things about Hillary Clinton, you loved Hillary Clinton, and Hillary Clinton loved Hillary Clinton. But enough registered Democrats didn’t that they should not have been ignored. But not only were they ignored, the DNC went beyond that to get this candidate the nomination. That did not go unnoticed or unremarked, did it? And when it was “mentioned,” by those disgruntled fellow citizens, were you one of the people who unkindly commented, “It’s Madame President, so get used to it?” I guess that felt good when you said it. How does it feel now? By these remarks am I saying that Hillary Clinton got a fair shake, that she was treated well by the press, or during the debates? No, I’m not, because she damn well wasn’t. She was maligned, she was scrutinized for things no other candidate was scrutinized for, including her looks, her weight, her wrinkles, and even I said something snide about the pantsuits. She was treated unfairly, part of that having to do with her being female, of course. But many of us have been. Many of us have been maligned and misjudged by superficialities that have no bearing on who we actually are. That did happen to Hillary, in my opinion. But unlike most of us, she holds the power and the position to combat that. She was able to override public dislike and get nominated for president when it was clear then, and it is crystal clear now that anyone, anyone, anyone was going to be chosen over Hillary. And that is because like what they had to say or not, we didn’t listen to how the American people felt.

Here’s who else had a hand in what happened this election:

1) Young women who make the statement, “Well…I don’t really call myself a feminist.”

This is the place in this essay where my thin façade of not being upset and furious cracks apart. Again, from Oxford, the definition of “feminism” is: “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” That’s what being a feminist is. It is not what the entitled, wealthy female pop and reality stars think it is ─ a distortion of the ‘girly-feminine’ and sexual side of being female. Those of us who call ourselves feminists are not all angry, unshaven man-haters. In fact, some who call themselves feminists are male. Listen to me, little sister: You have the freedoms you have because the generations of women before you fought for them, bled for them, starved for them, and were jailed for them. Yet, you blithely ignore the Rush Limbaugh hate speech against your own sex. Where the hell are you when male senators and judges dismiss rape as a “naughty frat boy pastime?” Where are you left wing women when right wing women are ridiculed, and visa versa, not for their political views, but for their femaleness? I don’t give a crap what color flag you fly – blue or red – but you MUST defend the rights of women. All women. So, you want to vote Republican, you’re entitled. But know the difference between Republican policy and old-white-male misogyny. Because when Congress and the new Supreme Court make it illegal for you to even get a condom without being subjected to invasive physical exams, don’t blame us older women who stuck together, yet still had to beg on our knees for the rights you’d previously enjoyed.

And by the by, if you’re a male with daughters, sisters, or a wife who you love, and you voted for Donald Trump, how are you going to keep the women you care about from harmful legislation? Okay, you voted Republican. You have your reasons, and they’re varied, as I’ve been saying here. But, I know some of you. You say you believe in equal rights for females. You cheered me on when I fought for female superhero action figures. You even signed my petition to Marvel about that, and helped me make it go viral. You’re on my Facebook page and you read my books. I’d truly love to hear your thoughts about this. It’s not just women’s reproductive rights that are at stake. So, what’s your plan to protect us against job discrimination, rapists, and only god knows what else? I can assume you have one?

2) People who could have voted who didn’t vote just … because

If you voted third party, I applaud you. You have a pair of balls that most of don’t have. You’re willing to put your money where your mouth is, to suffer a while so that future generations might see the dynasties we’ve created in Washington crumble. You had to put up with people telling you, “Don’t do it this election. This election is too important!” And you probably fretted about that because the people who were telling you that are probably right. But you did what you thought you should do, and good for you for having the guts to do it. And if you abstained from voting as a “protest vote” well…okay. I guess. It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face, but I get it. And if you couldn’t vote because some dickhead didn’t like the color of your face and did everything he could do to stop you, I’m sorry. We need to fix that too and fast.

But if you didn’t vote because you just were too lazy to exercise that right, and you’re now unhappy with the results ─ well, really? You have no right at all to express that disapproval of our society because you’ve opted out of our society. You, as far as I’m concerned, might as well now be watching us from Mars. You gave up the right to have a say, to criticize any of us, no matter who we voted for. Because it didn’t mean what it should have meant to you. You had what millions around the world fight daily for, and you discarded it, like a used tissue full of slimy nose boogers. Now, as my Greek friends would say (although it sounds better in Greek), you can eat it.

3) And finally, the media

Fuck you, fuckers. You are as bad as the crackhead who whores out his twelve-year-old daughter so he can get high. But at least that guy isn’t in control of his mind or his body. You know what you’re doing. You know. Whether you’re a pundit on the left or the right, you’re deliberately exaggerating the failings of the other side to get your ratings, to claim your fame and fortune. You have no other motivation. When you frighten and falsify, when you mislead, belittle, and smirk ─ when you do anything but speak objectively, citing dry facts only, you’re in league with the devil. You take advantage of the average, busy, working American who has no time to sift through news report after news report to discern fact from propaganda. That person is relying on you to report news, not give your lying-ass “opinion” somebody big with money gave you a financial blow-job to utter publicly. For personal gain, you’ve pitted one American against another, have not promoted unity, and in fact have made us all doubt, fear, and even hate each other. For years now, you’ve manipulated events that have taken place in our country and overseas. I blame you for every soldier who lost his legs in a war he shouldn’t have fighting been in, but was in because he believed what was reported to him on the nightly “news.” I blame you for every woman who will now be writhing in a back alley, bleeding to death from an illegal abortion. You should be held accountable for every life that was, is, and will be badly affected because you say or print what you’re told to say or print, or because you choose to say it or print it even though it isn’t the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, with no agenda behind it. But you won’t be held accountable, and you will continue to do it. For that, here is what I wish on you ─ a genuine curse on your family, courtesy of my Sicilian roots ─ that everyone you love should be as personally and as badly damaged by your lies and your propaganda as you have affected my countrymen, and even, with our superpower reach, the rest of the world.

Comments

  1. Great job in articulating clearly and forcefully some facts I shall collectively describe as inconvenient. I think there are a few other things, and I hope you’ll soon write part II of this post.

  2. You so effectively communicate some of my own pet peeves, and quite honestly I didn’t do enough this election because I never thought the vile man would make it as far as he did. But now that he has, I want to scream-read this on a crowded street corner – especially that part about feminism. My heart is so broken over this election and the polarization of American politics and the willingness on both sides to consider the other side evil (though racism is evil, no two ways about that). I believe the white evangelical demographic had a huge role in this election, and that’s the thrill of victory for those have been running an marketing campaign like no other… or it’s the agony of defeat for those doing responsible theology… depending on how you look at it. So I’ll do what you’ve inspired me to do. I’ll write. “Love covers a multitude of sins”, so our work (and our tears) are not wasted.

    • Yes, do. Write, that is. And don’t give up on people, or theology, if that is your belief and your calling. You have a beautiful soul and your thoughts and feelings should be expressed on paper, because they can give great comfort to many. It’s a gift, so please, grace us with it.

  3. Well said. We definitely did utterly disregard, ignore and belittle some people’s ideals, They felt disenfranchised and perhaps desperate. Desperate enough to accept Trump’s racism, sexism and religious and other bigotries — in order to have a shot at the things that are important to them.

  4. Yes, well said, Patricia. I have no doubt that much of what you say did contribute to the election of trump. (I refuse to dignify him with capital letters. Petty, I know, but it makes me feel better.)

    However, my own thoughts are more with those of Carmen Shenk. ie “and quite honestly I didn’t do enough this election because I never thought the vile man would make it as far as he did.” I think the biggest contribution to trump’s win was that the opinion polls assured everyone that Hillary was going to win, so that many didn’t bother to turn out to vote or work to encourage a turnout. In a perverse sort of way, trump’s win will ensure that these people will never make that mistake again, so confirming that there’s some good in everything if only we care to look.

    Democrats should take a lesson from Repubs who have no scruples regarding gerrymanders, stopping Dem Supreme court appointments, voter suppression. etc. They’ve long treated democracy as a war, and they are winning it. Time the Dems stopped pussyfooting around, and engage, engage, engage.

    • All of what you say is too true, Con. Especially that last bit. I agree this is a war, but one I hope against hope we can win with persistence, education, and kindness. And if that fails, we get the big gums out. The injunction against the Muslim ban is a good way to start. We’ll see where it goes, though. Things are going to get very ugly for the entire world, before they get better.

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