Hating on Trump supporters may feel good, but it comes at a high price
Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti prefers to wrap the comforting blanket of moral outrage tight around her and hunker down for a long and dehumanising war of attrition against Donald Trump supporters rather than put the national interest and social cohesion of America over her own short-term desire for catharsis.
Following on from the Mike Pence / Hamilton the Musical saga, in a piece entitled “Vote shaming Trump supporters is fair. What they have done is shameful”, Valenti spits:
You don’t get to vote for a person who brags about sexual assault and expect that the women in your life will just shrug their shoulders. You don’t get to play the victim when people de-friend you on Facebook, as if being disliked for supporting a bigot is somehow worse than the suffering that marginalized people will endure under Trump. And you certainly do not get to enjoy a performance by people of color and those in the LGBT community without remark or protest when you enact policies and stoke hatred that put those very people’s lives in danger.
Being socially ostracized for supporting Trump is not an infringement of your rights, it’s a reasonable response by those of us who are disgusted, anxious, and afraid. I was recently accused by a writer of “vote shaming” – but there’s nothing wrong with being made to feel ashamed for doing something shameful.
Whether it’s Pence at a play or your Trump-voting uncle at Thanksgiving, there are people right now who should be made to feel uncomfortable. In a time when there is so much to protest, so much work to do, the booing is necessary – shame on us if we ever stop.
Valenti has learned nothing – absolutely nothing from this election. She would rather stew in her own ideological bubble, wallow in her own supposed victimhood and demonise a vast swathe of the country for their decision, yet expect these people to listen to her advice when it comes to picking a candidate in 2020.
Or perhaps Valenti doesn’t actually care whether many of the Trump supporters actually vote for her favoured Democratic candidate. She would be more than happy for them to sit at home on election day 2020, let down by Trump and unmotivated by anyone else, their lives continuing to become steadily worse, their economic position and job security still being eaten away without any attempt at remedy from Washington. Perhaps Valenti is fine with all of that – I doubt that she personally knows or counts among her smug little friendship circle a single person like those she is busy demonising in her Guardian column.
Valenti tries to invoke the politics of victimhood to make Trump voters (too often portrayed as a homogeneous bloc by leftists who would otherwise recoil from stereotyping) seem like the cruel oppressors here. Yet she is blind to the possibility that people fortunate enough to live in New York City and act on stage in the biggest hit musical theatre show of the decade – and the Brooklyn-dwelling US Guardian columnists who cheer them on – might be the ones with privilege and airy disregard for those without power and influence in the modern world, rather than a a hateful white, male auto-assembly worker in Michigan or a call centre worker in Wisconsin.
Being the bigger person means having empathy for those who disagree with you, even those who spurn and insult you at times. It means having the humility to consider the possibility that while Donald Trump may indeed be a bad president-elect and a worse man, many of the people who voted for him did so not as an endorsement of his worst qualities but through lack of a less-flawed messenger for the ideas he advocated which (rightly or wrongly) resonated with people. It means having the courage to consider that maybe some of those ideas might actually have merit.
Jessica Valenti does not need to be the bigger person today. She can probably afford to indulge in her Trump tantrum – which unfairly targets millions of decent Americans along with the man himself – through inauguration day, and perhaps a little longer. And to be clear, this blog is not suggesting that Valenti has no right to be upset by the result, or to express her objections to Donald Trump, just that she should find a less bitter, more constructive and narrowly-targeted way to do so.
But if Valenti and her fellow left-wing anti-Trump cohort want to win back political power, it would help an awful lot if she, together with many of the other transparently privileged media commentators and celebrities in the country were to put a sock in the tirade, get out of Trump voters’ faces for a few minutes and actually considered trying the Good Cop approach to outreach and persuasion for a change.
But who am I kidding? She won’t do it. After all, it just feels so good to stamp one’s feet and shout at the Evil Bad Men (and self-hating women) who picked Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. And the pursuit of that warm glow of self-righteous outrage blinds the Jessica Valentis of this world to the fact that with every new column, they only strengthen Trump’s support and set themselves back even further on the path to genuine political renewal.
Top Image: Pixabay
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