As the left scrambles to figure out how its election strategies fell short, I have seen a lot of pointing fingers inwardly and repeatedly come across the criticism that the left hypocritically shuts down debate, labels supporters as racists and sexists “without allowing discussion,” and perpetuates the monoliths it decries. Without proper context I’m inclined to agree that this does happen, and I’m guilty of it. I REALLY hated Hillary supporters during the primaries and election postulating that any opposition was sexist, end of story. That rhetoric was alienating to me and probably a lot of people, and it certainly wasn’t effective.
That, I understand. What I’m really confused about is left leaning liberals like Stewart and many others suggesting that Trump supporters don’t deserve to be huddled under an all encompassing umbrella of racism and misogyny, if for no other reason than the approach to call out bigotry alienated voters. But is that really a hypocritical move by the left? Stereotyping Muslims, black people, or Hispanics is quite different than generalizing supporters of 1 person and his platform. My argument has been if you endorse him, you endorse his platform, and it is what it is. And shutting that down as dangerous is my way of protecting vulnerable groups from harmful rhetoric. Is that wrong to do? What would the consequences be of engaging in those discussions as if they are sound? I fear normalizing or validating dangerous stances, but apparently the answer is to talk to and persuade people (why is that my responsibility?).
All those talking points might hold more weight in a regular election cycle, but it’s really to easy to say, “what about the GOP?” They don’t engage. They exploit the working class. I’m supposed to engage in a discussion about my health and reproductive rights with someone who thinks they are something to grapple with? For all the problems the left have, the problems on the right are exceedingly worse. Infuriatingly worse. And those who suffer the consequences of these problems are being blamed for generalizing. As someone who might be listed on some registry and might not have access to birth control in the near future and is likely to get targeted in one of the steadily increasing number of post-election hate crimes, I should still be ashamed for generalizing rust belt low-income voters as racist, and as a liberal elite I didn’t care about their economic plight….Especially with the subtext being the republican candidate failed to provide any cohesive plan to stimulate the economy. So, when thinking of what appealed to those voters, is it wrong to presume that the divisive rhetoric which served as the hallmark of his campaign was a factor? That was a rhetorical question, but I’m actually genuinely curious of what approach I should be taking. I agree and have seen left leaning people make dismissive arguments- Im sure you have seen feminists do it (so-and-so isn’t feminist because…) and that does betray the values the left supposedly stands for, but… is “hearing people out” always the right choice? Am I pushing progress or normalizing positions that are complicit in dehumanizing entire groups of people?
I’m curious to know what you think and how you believe democrats or left leaning progressives can best combat discrimination while actively engaging parts of the population that were enchanted by a campaign that touted discrimination as a selling point.