Monday, November 21, 2016


Back in 2004, I'd made a New Year's resolution. I was in London over the holiday, and being out of the country made me feel like an American in a way that I don't when I'm stateside. But as I tried to find an open Underground station, to get back to my hotel, I decided that I'd been too much of an observer of American politics, and that I was going to be more politically active.

Like a lot of New Year's resolutions that come to one on the spur of the moment, this one both started out remarkably well, but in hindsight was better in concept than it was in reality. The plan was to give both major parties a whirl. But I started with the Democrats, and by the time I was done, I had no energy or desire to repeat the process. And the one thing that really drove me up the wall about regular meetings with committed Democrats was not that their politics turned out to be consistently to the left of my own, but the constant language of victimization. They couldn't even have disagreements with one another, over what struck me as minor matters, without making whatever happened into a deliberate form of oppression, directed at them. Of course, as usual, I didn't know when I was well off.

When I first read this, when I saw it posted on Google+ a few days ago, it struck me as simply odd. But after thinking about it for a while, I realized that it struck me as completely ridiculous. In what universe does the simple act of voting for whichever of the major-party candidates that you think will do a better job of making lives better - both yours and others - count as "control?" Okay, I'm not a fan of "build the wall" or having a registry of Moslems. But I don't understand how voting for the candidate that people who worry that illegal immigration and terrorism are threats that we should be doing more about counts as "abuse." And while I understand street protests as a means of making one's grievances heard (although I'm of the opinion that protest is the last resort of the politically powerless), since when does calling a a president-elect's appointees "racist," booing his running mate or insulting him or his supporters qualify as "resistance?"

My impression of this piece drifted from "wonky" to "this is a completely inappropriate use of the language of abuse and resistance." But, a part of me gets it. We tend to give people we see as victims rights and privileges that the rest of us don't have access to - often because it's easier than actually fixing the problem; although sometimes because the problem defies fixing. But that habit, of allowing people who have been victimized permission to do things that are denied the rest of us, makes that label something worth having. As in here, were the idea that Trump supporters are abusers becomes a means of recasting what we otherwise consider to be bad manners into a noble pursuit.
Still, it is clear that the places that voted for Trump are under greater economic stress, and the places that swung most toward Trump are those where jobs are most under threat. Importantly, Trump’s appeal was strongest in places where people are most concerned about what the future will mean for their jobs, even if those aren’t the places where economic conditions are worst today.
Jed Kolko "Trump Was Stronger Where The Economy Is Weaker"
This is something that nothing to do with name-calling, booing, protesting or insults (or even sexism or racism). It's the simple fact that there are large numbers of people in this country who feel that the current path of the country, one that they perceived would continue under a Hillary Clinton administration, wasn't going to make them any more secure than the way they feel right now. And no matter how loathsome a character that Democratic voters, or they themselves found Donald Trump, he threw them a lifeline that the didn't feel was going to come from business as usual in Washington D.C.

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