On the political left, there’s this narrative that says we shouldn’t be mean to people who voted for Trump. For some, any harsh critique of Trump voters – who are mostly white – is akin to hate. Imagine that – any critique of Trump voters is tantamount to hate speech.
Presumably, being “hateful” or criticizing the ignorance of Trump voters works against us. Because, supposedly, we should be trying to win them over to our side.
This argument is being pushed by some of my white liberal friends. Well, you know what? I say fuck that and fuck them. I know that may sound kind of harsh and somewhat childish, but I can explain. You see, for me, it’s very simple: I’m a black man. Yes, I’m just as human as anyone else – including Trump voters. But even so, I’d be damned if I run around making excuses and giving hugs to white folks who voted for a racist, sexist, and xenophobic asshole who pals around with proud white supremacists without shame.
I guess I’m supposed to overlook their ignorance and say: “I know you voted for the guy endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan for president, but I can overlook that because I think we should be friends. I mean, you attending and being present at a lynching doesn’t make you racist. Now, had you yourself put the noose around the neck of the black person being lynched, that would be different. Yes, we couldn’t be cool if that was the case.”
But What About The White Working Class?
What about them? Am I supposed to be sympathetic to the perceived economic woes of white folks in middle America? Well, let some of my prominent liberal friends tell it, I should. According to self-righteous liberal white men like Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton lost the general election, because of Clinton’s – and the Democratic Party more broadly – choice to ignore the pain of white folks in certain pockets of the country. To hear Bernie Sanders tell it, too much attention was paid to identity politics. Apparently, according to him, Trump won because Clinton spent too much time focusing on his racism, sexism, and xenophobia. To him and others, this was a losing strategy.
Presumably, Clinton should have alienated the Democratic Party’s diverse coalition of voters by rejecting identity politics. Presumably, she should have adopted the same tone-deaf campaign message of Bernie Sanders, to win over the same white voters who rejected him.
Yes, and this from the candidate who hardly tried to court the black vote by campaigning across the south. You know, the region of the country where most black people reside?
Writing in the New York Times just days after the election last November, the Vermont senator claimed Trump voters were “expressing their fierce opposition to an economic and political system that puts wealthy and corporate interests over their own.”
“Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and deplorable folks,” he said at a rally in Boston in April, alongside fellow progressive senator Elizabeth Warren. “I don’t agree.”
Sorry, But It Was Always About Racial Resentment
We have enough data and research that says that most of the people who voted for Trump were motivated by racial resentment. In their eyes, everything that’s wrong in their lives – and by extension, America – is a direct result of the upward mobility of black folks; the influx of immigrants; and also, the belief that Christianity in America is under attack by Muslims.
This was the reality.
But let’s say that you truly believe that this is why your personal life is in the toilet. If so, why even vote for someone who is arguably the most unqualified, morally bankrupt, and incompetent candidate for the job in modern history?
So no, don’t suggest to me that we need to win these people over and label any critique of them as hate. I don’t hate people, I hate ignorance. After all, much of what they believe is rooted in ignorance. And the way my life and privilege is set up, my family and I don’t have room for that. If you’re white and you’re unable to climb the ladder of success the American Dream allows, then you’re not doing whiteness right. But then again, white privilege has always existed at the expense of people of color.
There’s no room for finding common ground with people who see my humanity as an impediment to their daily lives. Again, as a person of color, my humanity isn’t afforded the benefit of the doubt. So much so, that they supported a candidate who sold them on the idea that non-white people and folks who look like me are seen as the problem. Changing that misconception – otherwise correctly identified as racism – doesn’t rest with me.