What It Is Like To Be A Donald Trump Supporter On Campus

The New York Times (in a rare change of perspective) publishes a first-hand account of what it is like to be a moderate, unenthusiastic Trump voter at college.

K.N. Pineda writes:

The presidential election was the last thing on my mind on Nov. 8. I had essays to write and Italian vocabulary to learn. Sure, I kept New York Times and Wall Street Journal tabs open on my laptop, but I was uninterested in indulging in conversation about an election that most everyone could agree was a time bomb.

As a student at New York University and the daughter of a civil servant at the United States Department of State, I am familiar with political unrest and its potentially disastrous outcomes in the arms of ignorance and hysteria. I did not hold any particularly strong opinions about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. If I had voted, however, I would have picked Mr. Trump. I was focused on school. I had no idea that a few days later I would be dismissed as a “Trump supporter” and a person of “privilege” who “reflected an us versus them mind-set” in an essay by my college roommate in this publication — an essay that would go viral and change my life.

I did not feel that I should lie to my new college friends, especially at N.Y.U., where we are supposed to be open to hearing opposing views, able to discuss them and put any bias aside. I never tried to persuade my roommate to accept my side, my choice or my views. I even agreed with some of her opinions about Mr. Trump, who has said divisive things about Muslims and other minority groups. As an independent, my feelings toward the campaign were very mixed. I felt strongly that as a country we needed to focus on domestic issues, and for me, the Republicans were more prepared to do that.

My roommate has since apologized to me, but in the meantime I have felt the glare of her friends and been heckled on campus by other students. I have been labeled “racist,” “sexist” and “xenophobic” on Facebook. I have been called a “white without a conscious,” a “misogynist,” a “bigot” and a “barbarian” online by people all over the country.

This tale should make the allied anti-Trump forces stop and think firstly about how they are treating their own friends and neighbours, but more importantly about the image they are projecting to the wider country, and thus feeding into America’s future political discourse.

Presumably those most upset about Donald Trump’s election victory would quite like many of his supporters to vote for somebody else, maybe somebody from the Democratic Party, in four year’s time. They should stop and ask themselves whether this goal is more likely to be achieved by seeking genuine dialogue and understanding with people who voted differently, or by loudly and repeatedly accusing them of complicity in bringing fascism to America.

The enhanced cold-shoulder received by K.N. Pineda is also depressing given her own family background:

Here’s my story. My father is Hispanic. My extended family lives in Southern California and New Mexico. Many of my family members are not native English speakers. My maternal grandmother is an Italian immigrant who holds a green card. Her husband died after struggling with drug addiction and alcoholism; she had to work two jobs to make ends meet. My mother was raised by her stepfather, who is African-American and the only maternal grandfather I have known. He is a kind, devout man whom I love dearly. My family and friends come from all ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations.

Attending New York University was my dream. My dad grew up in a trailer home, and my mom was homeless for a period of time. My parents were the first in their families to graduate from college. They have struggled to provide the best for me and my brother. They have sacrificed financially and worked hard to give us a good life. I came to N.Y.U. partly on scholarship and am accruing debt to pay my tuition.

As minorities, my mother, father, grandparents and I have experienced racial hate. My skin may be light, but I understand discrimination. I may not know each person’s individual experience, but am able to empathize with others.

So not a dumb, ignorant redneck then (incidentally, one of the last groups of people that it is okay to openly mock and denigrate in polite society). Rather, Pineda has Hispanic heritage and so is expected to toe the line and adopt all of the political opinions now expected of that racial demographic by the Identity Politics Left, voting one’s own conscience is seen almost as a “betrayal” of one’s ethnic heritage. This is what the identity politics embraced by the American Left hath wrought, at a time when it otherwise ought to be subsiding – electoral segregation.

Pineda’s conclusion makes one wonder why it has fallen to a freshman college student to express these sentiments so eloquently, and exactly what the American media and commentariat think they are playing at with their own coverage:

I know the fear that the election has inflicted. I comprehend the hurt that people feel. We all have reasons for casting our votes. What I do not understand is hatred toward one another. Supporters of both parties have misunderstood and fueled hate out of reckless emotion and ignorance.

The answer is not to further the divide by labeling and dehumanizing one another. We should fight the “us versus them” mind-set. We have spent too much time in our own bubbles, and we need to begin a dialogue that will allow us to understand one another.

Blind fear and hatred are far more powerful than any candidate. How can we assume we know someone based on the color of their skin, their religion, or their political choices? Why should we be afraid to express our opinions? If we see one another not as a Clinton supporter or a Trump supporter, but as human, perhaps we can discover empathy in the troubled nation in which we exist.

The narrative should be one of inclusiveness, openness, respect and love. It is not only about making “America Great Again,” it is about making America home again.

I think it is fair to say that the New York Times could have found far more unpleasant and even harrowing tales of political persecution on campus had they searched, or possessed the political will to do so. Young conservatives were well used to public opprobrium and seeing their free speech rights constrained while left-wing identity politics activists were given the run of campus by craven university administrators long before the election. And Donald Trump’s surprise election victory has only enraged and emboldened these tormentors all the more.

The American Left, (sometimes justifiably) outraged on behalf of the various minority groups for whom they claim to speak, should bear in mind that in the rarefied surroundings of the college campus, they are very much in the majority – an oppressive majority, one might even say, to use the current social justice parlance.

And there is a notable, shameful irony in the way that many anti-Trump activists on the Left are so ostentatiously welcoming of every kind of difference and diversity, save diversity of political opinion.

 

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Donald Trump Victory Reaction: Bill Maher’s War On Political Correctness Is Vindicated

At a time when many stunned Democrats still seem inclined to respond to Donald Trump’s election victory by doubling down and giving the electorate more of the same (i.e. petulant, finger-wagging lectures), Bill Maher gets it:

The Democratic Party – back me up on this, guys – sort of lost the white working man. That’s what they used to have. And they made the white working man feel like your problems aren’t real. Because you’re mansplaining, and check your privilege. But you know what? If your life sucks, your problems are real. And c’mon, what should I do, cut my dick off and check my privilege?

[..] If there is a silver lining for me personally, it is that the two issues I have been on the case of liberals for – and they’ve been booing me about this for years, and maybe they’ll listen – one is political correctness, I think I did a show about that for nine years, you’re outrageous with your politically correct bullshit and it does drive people away.

This is a little condescending, but not wholly inaccurate. It’s not necessarily a question of Trump voter’s lives “sucking”. Yes, some have been hit hard by the modern globalised economy, or feel their own jobs and industries teetering on the brink of the same insecurity and decline that has befallen manufacturing. But it is not a question of being dirt poor. It is a question of not being listened to, and yes, one of respect.

Bill Maher, of course, has been a strident critic of the American Left’s takeover by the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics (well, at least the latter part) for some time. Perhaps his words will now start to carry more weight, as the dust settles.

 

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Donald Trump Is Rick Santorum 2.0 – Less Social Conservatism, But Economic Populism On Steroids

Former Republican presidential primary candidate Rick Santorum, siren of the white working classes back in 2012, ran a campaign which laid the groundwork for Donald Trump’s insurgency in 2016, and ultimately prophesied his victory

For several months now I have been waiting for somebody to make the connection between Rick Santorum‘s strong running in the 2012 Republican primaries and the playbook which took Donald Trump all the way to the White House.

Way back during the 2012 campaign, I noted that Santorum was singing a siren song to the “white working classes” of rust belt America, responding to their very real and valid concerns with reassuring but unrealistic promises that the tide of globalisation could (and should) be turned back, thus sparing them the need to adapt to the new America.

Back then I labelled Rick Santorum the “Pied Piper of Pennsylvania“, a reference to the way in which the former Pennsylvania senator accumulated a large, trusting and often sympathetic audience of followers, but whom he would ultimately lead off the edge of an economic cliff:

Barring certain specific exceptions, the manufacturing jobs that America has lost will simply never return.

And perhaps among all of the things that Rick Santorum says that rile me up, this one makes me the most angry. He is peddling a Pleasantville-style, black and white, 1950s vision of a country where once again it is possible to live a comfortable middle class lifestyle with a decent sized family home and a couple of cars, paid for by the wages earned from assembling televisions, or refrigerators, or cars. And Republican primary voters, many of whom are in the squeezed middle class and have been let down by successive administrations, are listening to Santorum’s claims and gaining hope, and voting for him, even though he cannot in actual fact turn the clock back fifty years, even if he does actually want to.

Whether he wins or loses the Republican primary and the general election, the persistence of this argument – and the belief that a few tweaks to the tax code and the drilling of a few more oil wells will spur a resurgence in unskilled and semiskilled manufacturing – simply dooms another generation of people to a life of stagnating or falling living standards.

People trust Santorum because, unlike the other main Republican candidates, he is so genuine. Why would he advocate policies that would hurt them, when he was one of them? And yet the policies that he proposes would either do little to bring back more unskilled or semiskilled manufacturing jobs, or would make the US population even less qualified to perform those jobs which already exist. And all the time that people hold out hope that a Rick Santorum or another politician like him can work this magic, it is time that they are not spending going back into training, or into college or university, and reskilling themselves for the jobs of tomorrow’s economy.

Rick Santorum says all of the things that the Republican Party’s blue collar base want to hear, but in many ways he is just a modern day Pied Piper, promising them a brighter future while marching them off a cliff.

Globalisation cannot be rolled back, nor should it be. The challenge – which falls hardest upon Republicans and small government, small-c conservatives like myself, who generally do not foresee an active role for central government in the lives of citizens – is to find a way of reaping the fruits of globalisation while bringing these disrupted communities with us instead of callously leaving them behind.

And we should be honest: conservatives are at a disadvantage here. Leftists have the luxury of simply waving their hands and promising new government programmes for the mass retraining of millions of people in new, higher value-added jobs and careers. But no matter how costly or inefficient those schemes may prove, those on the right have an even harder job persuading voters, and no one party or politician on either side of the Atlantic has yet arrived at a fully convincing solution.

The inability to satisfactorily answer these questions and convince enough people of his ability to deliver the fruits of globalisation with none of the adverse consequences -together with the establishment reluctantly falling firmly behind Mitt Romney – ultimately saw Rick Santorum fall by the wayside back in 2012. But four years later, Donald Trump came charging along with almost the exact same message, and stormed all the way to the White House. And during this extraordinary journey, none of his supporters seemed to realise or care that Trump has been every bit as unable as Rick Santorum was to answer the question of “how?”, beyond his usual barnstorming bluster and well-worn pledge to Make America Great Again.

Now Bill Powell from Newsweek magazine has also picked up on the similarity between the two men, with a new piece entitled “How Rick Santorum helped Donald Trump win the White House” in which he argues that to a large extent, Donald Trump merely honed and executed a playbook originally written by Santorum.

Powell writes:

In the spring of 2015, [Trump] was talking to a few family members and confidantes about running for president. And he wanted to get in touch with a former Republican senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, who had served two terms before losing big in 2006. In 2012, he was the runner-up to Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential primaries. Ensconced since then in a Washington, D.C., law firm, Santorum had written a book that attracted little attention: Blue Collar Conservatives, Recommitting to an America That Works. But Trump had read the book, very carefully, in fact, and was intrigued. He called Santorum and asked if he would come to Trump Tower for a visit. Santorum was a bit surprised by the invitation but said yes.

Santorum didn’t know what to expect. He had never met Trump and, like millions of Americans, knew of him only from his long-running NBC reality show, The Apprentice. Trump got right to the point. He had loved Santorum’s book and believed it could unlock the White House for a GOP candidate who ran a campaign based on reaching the working-class voters throughout the industrial Midwest that, Trump said, Democrats take for granted.

Santorum agreed, of course—he was thinking of making another run at the White House, using that playbook. (He did, but got bum-rushed early in the primaries.) Trump then surprised Santorum even more by questioning him on details of his book and economic policy in general. What could be done with trade policy to help the working class? Was there any way to turn around the massive bilateral trade imbalance with Beijing? Could the White House be used as a bully pulpit to pressure American companies to stop sending manufacturing offshore? On and on they went, and Santorum left the meeting wondering what might happen if you mixed the power of celebrity with a blue-collar tent revival.

We now know the answer. Trump’s improbable run to the presidency—which was nearly derailed on several occasions by his lack of discipline—was guided by a conviction that he could, as political consultant and longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone said last year, “rewrite the [electoral] map” by smashing the “great blue wall” of Midwestern Democratic states. And smash it he did.

Something happened (or continued to happen) between 2012 and 2016 which made more people receptive to the Santorum message of economic populism and protectionism, and the failure of the Obama administration to change the economic trajectory of those people already  suffering the fallout from globalisation (or nervously waiting for it to impact their industry and their jobs) clearly played a large part.

But even then, Trump’s victory could probably have been prevented had prominent Democrats like Hillary Clinton and President Obama not been so blasé about the economic challenge facing millions of Americans while they were campaigning. Hillary Clinton in particular took every opportunity to criticise Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, neglecting to consider that from many people’s perspective, America is only as great as their own present circumstances. But while sanctimoniously lecturing Donald Trump and his supporters that “America is already great” may have been factually true, it also felt a lot like the establishment dismissing the legitimate concerns of suffering people.

Sure, America is pretty darn awesome if you are one of the Wall Street bankers to whom Hillary Clinton loved to give speeches, one of the celebrities attending her fundraisers or just a prosperous coastal professional whose job and career is not about to be eradicated through automation or outsourcing. But if you do not fall into one of these categories, America can feel a lot more precarious than great. And having the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee continually insisting that everything is wonderful and that anyone with concerns or complaints is somehow “deplorable” was about the most stupid and politically tone-deaf way for a candidate to behave.

And of course we all know the outcome:

The Trump high-command members knew then they had an opening. The crowds Trump was drawing were enormous, and even before [FBI director James] Comey’s announcement [about the reopening of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server], their internal polls said the race was tightening, but not enough to make many of them believe he would win. Now, though, they thought they had a shot. Trump remained focused, and the campaign laid on rally after rally—up to five per day in the last days of the race. Trump went back to Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin again and again. He even made a trip to Minnesota, the bluest of blue states, because—stunningly—polling had him drawing close even there. The Santorum strategy was playing out just as Trump had bet it would so many months before.

[..] “Those states—Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin—were the targets,” [Trump campaign manager Kellyanne] Conway would later say. “[Trump] had a `theory of the race,’ and when it became clear that he had tapped into something very big, he rode it. And that is what good candidates do.”

Bill Powell is right – to a large extent, Donald Trump picked up the mantle from Rick Santorum, amending it by ditching some of the niche social conservatism (an integral part of Santorum’s Catholic traditionalism) and ramping up the economic populism even further.

While Santorum spoke of the pain of those whose manufacturing jobs were disappearing and promised help through the corporate tax code, Donald Trump identified a specific bogeyman in the form of China and other countries who supposedly always get the better of America, and then promised to confront these foreign economic enemies. While Rick Santorum railed against the coastal intellectual elites and dismissed aspiring to go to college as “snobbery”, Donald Trump insulted and belittled those Ivy League experts and elites day after day.

In many ways, watching Donald Trump on the campaign trail was like watching an incredibly vulgar, amoral and less eloquent version of Rick Santorum, with the brightness and volume dial turned up to max. And it worked. The economic message that Santorum road-tested in his 2012 campaign and in “Blue Collar Conservatives” was a beguiling one, as I acknowledged four years ago. But when it was hitched to a television celebrity phenomenon and fuelled by a combustible blend of identity politics backlash and the Democratic Party’s seeming disdain for middle America, it became immensely powerful.

Of course, this leaves President-elect Trump in a far worse place than Rick Santorum. Santorum was able to rack up Republican primary votes and victories against Mitt Romney, but his ultimate defeat saved him from having to make good on his campaign rhetoric and unrealistic promises to insulate middle America from the negative consequences of globalisation. Donald Trump has made it all the way to the White House, and the people who put him there will now expect him to deliver.

Which means that it falls to Donald Trump – of all the unlikely people – to do something that no right-wing politician anywhere in the world has successfully achieved: find a way to reap the benefits of globalisation while mitigating the negative side effects.

My gut feeling: assuming that Trump even tries to address this challenge, it will only be by enacting economically ruinous levels of protectionism or by abandoning any pretence of conservatism and embracing some kind of mass worker retraining program, either in a massive expansion of the federal government or else delivered by the states through federal block grants. And given the dynamics in Congress, it is by no means certain that any such measure would pass.

Make America Great Again – so easy to say, so hard to deliver for millions of struggling Americans.

 

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Donald Trump Victory Reaction: Everybody Take A Deep Breath

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America’s new president-elect is bad, but he is hardly evil on a world-historical scale. Unfortunately, the hysterical media reaction to Donald Trump’s election victory leaves no room for nuance or restraint

In these fractious times, it is very difficult for those of us who fall into the “really didn’t want Donald Trump to win, but don’t consider his victory to be quite the end of civilisation” crowd to say anything, for fear of reprisal – not from Donald Trump supporters, but from certain anti-Trump activists who have taken to using a person’s level of anger at the election result as an indicator of their personal moral code or worth.

Since Trump’s unexpected victory, the strong message being transmitted by much of the left-wing post-election commentary has been that if you aren’t rending your garments, taking to the streets with burning torches, retreating to a safe space or dissolving into tears every five minutes then you must be a closeted Donald Trump supporter.

Look: I really really did not want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. This blog has been pretty clear about my estimation of Donald Trump and the low regard in which I hold the president-elect. But not every charge flung at Donald Trump by left-wing partisans deserves to stick, because some of them are major overreaches prompted by partisan fervour rather than objective accuracy. And it should be possible to point out where criticism of Donald Trump goes too far, or is flat-out wrong, without being accused of supporting the man himself.

It does nobody any good if this election causes America to fracture into three distinct factions: unapologetic pro-Trump supporters, furious anti-Trump activists and a group of pragmatists who want to make the best of a difficult situation but who have been cowed into sullen silence for failing to pick a side and express either blanket admiration or total hatred for Donald Trump. If the country is to knit back together, it is this final group which must act as the cords which bind the nation’s wounds and bridge mutual suspicion. Assailing people for neither hero-worshipping Trump nor treating him like Hitler really is not the smartest thing to do in terms of improving the toxic atmosphere in American politics.

I’m told that I cannot possibly understand what it is like to be black, disabled, Mexican, female, gay or transgender in Trump’s America. Well, okay. But I did grow up mixed race in 1990s Britain, when not everybody was super friendly toward people who are not white. Sure, I never had to fear being gunned down in the street by a policeman for walking or driving suspiciously, but as a child I have been shoved and called all the worst racial epithets one can think of. I didn’t let it scar me for life and as I’ve grown older I can probably count the total number of verbally or physically hostile interactions over the past decade on two hands, but I certainly don’t have the dreaded “white privilege”. Yet while I certainly do not look forward to Donald Trump’s presidency, I do not fear it in a physical sense.

Donald Trump is objectionable for all of the reasons that the mainstream media has (belatedly) gotten around to pointing out. He is vulgar and thin-skinned, and in a confrontational situation he will use any defining characteristic to taunt or belittle an opponent. If you are fat, Trump will harp on about how massive you are. If you are not conventionally attractive, Trump will be sure to point that fact out to everyone. And most distastefully, he will apparently do the same if you are disabled. Donald Trump is not a nice person.

But there is vast gulf between being personally repellent and representing an active physical danger to the very same people that Trump insults on Twitter, in television interviews or on stage at his rallies. And we need to recognise that fact. It should be possible to abhor Donald Trump’s mockery of a disabled journalist without making the leap of imagination that a Trump presidency will somehow lead to the state-sanctioned persecution of disabled people. It should be possible to oppose Donald Trump’s most ignorant or insulting rhetoric about racial minorities without imagining World War 2 era Japanese internment camps for black people and lawful, legal immigrants.

The point is this: if we go nuclear in every single criticism of Donald Trump, we have nowhere left to go when somebody with truly severely racist or homophobic views comes along. It is important to leave some slack in our language so that we have room left to describe true evil when it crosses our path. If we wear out our strongest warnings and our most alarmist rhetoric on somebody who has a foul mouth but no evident plans to single out American citizens for persecution, what do we do if one day there is a presidential candidate who actively refuses to associate with black, Hispanic, gay or trans people and who runs on an unabashedly Jim Crow platform?

(Furthermore, I feel compelled to note that right now it is the Social Justice, Identity Politics Left which is clamouring to bring back racial and gender segregation, and not the conventional or alt-right).

Even as I write this, I can feel some people becoming outraged and accusing me of being a Trump apologist. But Trump is terrible! Yes, he is really bad. But the momentary catharsis of accusing Donald Trump of every prejudice and evil under the sun, whether each one is deserved or not, is really not worth the additional damage which going nuclear is doing to our political discourse. At some point it might be nice to persuade some of those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 to vote for somebody else in 2020. It will be much easier to engage them in dialogue if we have not first accused them of being latter-day Nazi collaborators.

If it sounds like I am rather treading on eggshells in this piece, it is because I am. Trump’s election victory has divided America, divided the world, divided families. And maybe two weeks after the election is too soon to expect the blood to have cooled and objectivity to reign. So while I struggle to put into words what I am trying to say, I encourage everybody to read this piece by Scott Alexander of the SlateStarCodex blog, who offers some excellent perspective and advice.

(Hat tip to Brendan O’Neill for bringing the piece to my attention on Facebook).

It’s a long piece of analysis, but I will quote the conclusion, which should be required reading for everyone in America (and anyone else moved to write about American politics):

Stop fearmongering. Somewhere in America, there are still like three or four people who believe the media, and those people are cowering in their houses waiting for the death squads.

Stop crying wolf. God forbid, one day we might have somebody who doesn’t give speeches about how diversity makes this country great and how he wants to fight for minorities, who doesn’t pose holding a rainbow flag and state that he proudly supports transgender people, who doesn’t outperform his party among minority voters, who wasn’t the leader of the Salute to Israel Parade, and who doesn’t offer minorities major cabinet positions. And we won’t be able to call that guy an “openly white supremacist Nazi homophobe”, because we already wasted all those terms this year.

Stop talking about dog whistles. The kabbalistic similarities between “dog-whistling” and “wolf-crying” are too obvious to ignore.

Stop writing articles breathlessly following everything the KKK says. Stop writing several times more articles about the KKK than there are actual Klansmen. Remember that thing where Trump started out as a random joke, and then the media covered him way more than any other candidate because he was so outrageous, and gave him what was essentially free advertising, and then he became President-elect of the United States? Is the lesson you learned from this experience that you need 24-7 coverage of the Ku Klux Klan?

[..] Stop turning everything into identity politics. The only thing the media has been able to do for the last five years is shout “IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS IDENTITY POLITICS!” at everything, and then when the right wing finally says “Um, i…den-tity….poli-tics?” you freak out and figure that the only way they could have possibly learned that phrase is from the KKK.

Stop calling Trump voters racist. A metaphor: we have freedom of speech not because all speech is good, but because the temptation to ban speech is so great that, unless given a blanket prohibition, it would slide into universal censorship of any unpopular opinion. Likewise, I would recommend you stop calling Trump voters racist – not because none of them are, but because as soon as you give yourself that opportunity, it’s a slippery slope down to “anyone who disagrees with me on anything does so entirely out of raw seething hatred, and my entire outgroup is secret members of the KKK and so I am justified in considering them worthless human trash”. I’m not saying you’re teetering on the edge of that slope. I’m saying you’re way at the bottom, covered by dozens of feet of fallen rocks and snow. Also, I hear that accusing people of racism constantly for no reason is the best way to get them to vote for your candidate next time around. Assuming there is a next time.

My emphasis in bold. Scott Alexander concludes with this plea:

Stop centering criticism of Donald Trump around this sort of stuff, and switch to literally anything else. Here is an incompetent thin-skinned ignorant boorish fraudulent omnihypocritical demagogue with no idea how to run a country, whose philosophy of governance basically boils down to “I’m going to win and not lose, details to be filled in later”, and all you can do is repeat, again and again, how he seems popular among weird Internet teenagers who post frog memes.

In the middle of an emotionally incontinent reality TV show host getting his hand on the nuclear button, your chief complaint is that in the middle of a few dozen denunciations of the KKK, he once delayed denouncing the KKK for an entire 24 hours before going back to denouncing it again. When a guy who says outright that he won’t respect elections unless he wins them does, somehow, win an election, the headlines are how he once said he didn’t like globalists which means he must be anti-Semitic.

Stop making people suicidal. Stop telling people they’re going to be killed. Stop terrifying children. Stop giving racism free advertising. Stop trying to convince Americans that all the other Americans hate them. Stop. Stop. Stop.

I have no desire to denigrate the fear and pain of anybody who is in genuine fear following Trump’s election victory. I do not take perverse joy from laughing at the terror and misery of other people. But it is my contention that much of this fear has been manufactured by various people and for various reasons – some vaguely noble, others much less so.

Frequently we hear the refrain that various identity groups “no longer feel welcome in America”. Would that include gay people, whom President Barack Obama did not consider worthy of the institution of marriage until changing public opinion (and a big helping hand from Joe Biden) caused him to shift position? Would that include illegal immigrants, whom Hillary Clinton voted to thwart with a border fence and Barack Obama deported in record numbers? Would that include black people, whom the sainted Hillary Clinton once described as “super-predators“?

Once the excitement of the election has properly died down we urgently need to separate the things which are actually concerning about Donald Trump from the frivolous dangers which exist mostly in people’s minds.

Much is (belatedly) being written about how the media failed to do a good job covering Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy in the early months. Quite right too – they chased ratings, broadcast voyeuristically lingering live coverage of his meandering speeches for entertainment rather than educational value and failed to ask tough questions or do proper investigative journalism until way too late in the process.

But the media is failing now in a different way, having overcompensated for past sins by now reporting any hysterical fear about Donald Trump, no matter how absurd or far-fetched, as though it is inherently legitimate and worthy of consideration. Take this hypersensitivity to Donald Trump’s boorish rhetoric coupled with an infantilised population who sometimes seem to prefer to act like helpless babes rather than autonomous and resilient adults, and the result is not pretty. In fact, it is downright ugly.

I am very aware that this blog post is not up to the usual standard – it probably does not “flow” as it should, and is much more a stream of consciousness than anything else. But the bottom line is this: there will be enough work to do scrutinising the Trump administration and keeping its worst excesses at bay for the next few years without also turning on each other, fellow people who opposed Trump’s candidacy.

This post will likely see me damned by those who are fully on board the Trump train as well as those implacably opposed to Donald Trump (as I was) and determined to see only evil in everything that occurs until he departs the scene. So be it. I find it very strange to be in the position of the “moderate middle” for once – somewhere I never find myself when it comes to British politics – but there we are.

I knew there was a reason why I named this blog Semi-Partisan Politics.

 

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Donald Trump Victory Reaction: The American Left Struggles To Regain Perspective

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Rather than following through on their much-publicised threats to leave the country in the event of a Clinton defeat, Donald Trump’s most vehement left-wing opponents are now making plans to stay in America and become completely insufferable instead

There is something to admire in Michael Krikorian’s instruction to his readers to rediscover their courage, stand and fight against the incoming Trump administration for what they believe in, delivered in his latest LA Times Op-Ed.

I particularly like the acknowledgement – largely missing among the mass hysteria – that America has indeed been through “far worse” before, and survived:

No one’s moving anywhere. My friends Dahlia and Chris aren’t going to Mexico, and Alexis is not going to Copenhagen. My gal Nancy’s not permanently packing up and moving to Umbria, and Duke is not moving to Thailand with his cousin Jake.

And you?  You aren’t going wherever the heck you say you are moving to now that Donald Trump is going to be president of the United States of America.

What we all do is this: We stay and fight.

First, we wait and see. Even Hillary Clinton said Wednesday, “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”

But if we don’t like what happens, we fight it. We take to the streets and rekindle memories of the anti-Vietnam War protests and civil rights marches. We don’t run and hide. We don’t abandon America.

This is all good. Yes, there will likely be much that is objectionable about the coming Trump presidency, for conservatives and libertarians too, as well as those on the Left. But there is no need to sit under a coffee table and cry like you are five years old and still scared of monsters or fireworks or loud noises. Rediscover some backbone and composure. We are all adults here.

But then just as Krikorian is on a roll of common sense, he goes on to remark:

I feel, strangely, not what I thought I would “the morning after.” I’m more patriotic than I was yesterday. More in love with my country than I have since, I guess, Sept. 11, 2001.

Oh dear. A tacit suggestion that the outcome of this election is the worst thing to befall America since 9/11. To be fair, Krikorian does temper that comparison with this observation:

Yesterday, a guy I know from the streets showed me a knife he had in his waistband. A killing knife. It made me think of “Saving Private Ryan”and a brutal, achingly sad scene:  room-to-room fighting, a German soldier slowly pushing a killing knife into the chest of an American soldier.

When I went home, I Netflix’d “Saving Private Ryan” with the intention of forwarding to that scene, but instead I started watching from the beginning. The first 25 or so minutes show the first wave of Allied forces landing on the beach at Normandy, D-Day, 1944. It’s one of the most powerful  movie sequences ever filmed, and it ends with a panorama of bloody corpses washed along by the tide.

What happened Tuesday doesn’t compare to those days. Everyone walking around like it’s the end of civilization now that Trump is in? It’s not. We’ve  been through far worse. A perceived threat is not as bad as a punch in the face.

So the election of Donald Trump is traumatic enough that it provokes the same resurgence of shock-induced patriotism as 9/11, but bearable enough that watching thousands of British, American and allied soldiers being mown down by machine gun fire on French beaches in Saving Private Ryan puts things back into perspective. Okay, got it.

Do these people ever stop to listen to themselves? Do they ever pause to wonder how those who do not share the same political views are likely to react when they openly declare “I consider you getting your way in a national election to be the worst man-made disaster to befall this country since 9/11”, or “the temporary prevalence of your worldview reduced me to the brink of despair, until I watched a man being bayonetted to death and realised that things could be worse”?

I shouldn’t snipe. Krikorian’s is one of vanishingly few voices from the American Left to tentatively suggest that America still has a future and that the end of the world was in fact likely not set in motion on November 8. And by and large, Krikorian is counselling against hysteria and self-pity, which is an admirable thing to do.

But when some of the coolest heads on the American Left are reacting to Hillary Clinton’s defeat at the hands of Donald Trump by counting themselves fortunate not to be storming the beaches on D-Day then it seems we still have some way to go before the two Americas are in a position to talk to one another respectfully or productively.

 

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