One striking thing about this election: The things that Trump supporters hate about Hillary … Hillary supporters don’t really like about her either, but the things that Hillary supporters hate about Trump … are just what many Trump supporters like most about him.
I was born during the era of the Civil Rights Act. I’m always struck by the famous Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
That’s an exceptionally cogent way to look at the progress of the last century or so, if you support that progress; if you think it is progress. But we know that isn’t everybody. Social conservatives, in the main, think that much of the last 50 years or so of social policy has led to the ‘downfall of our society.’
These are surely the people that Hillary Clinton was talking about when she used the term ‘basket of deplorables.’
To many of us, the last 50 years has been a battle to get these folks back in that basket.
To many of them, equality, social justice, and basic fairness have all come at their expense. While I’m still not sure how this is the zero sum game they imagine it to be, I do acknowledge that they think it is a zero sum game.
But the sort of social progress we’ve seen — like so many things in this life — isn’t for free. The price we pay for bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice is the existential and abiding resentment of these social conservatives.
Getting them back in their basket is an epic fight. They do not go quietly and they do not go happily. In fact, they seethe and they kick and they scream and they fight.
As if their lives depended on it.
I view the Trump candidacy as the backlash of the last half-century of progress in basic civil and human rights. I view the Trump candidacy as The Bullies’ Revenge. The nerds and geeks have had their day. The bullies — apparently incapable of remembering that the nation was always theirs and pretty much still is — want to live in the sun again.
Racists are coming back out of the closet with a vengeance.
Homophobes are coming back out of the closet with a vengeance.
Islamophobes and other religious bigots are coming back out of the closet with a vengeance.
Misogynists are coming back out of the closet with a vengeance.
To the extent that any of them were ever truly in the closet to begin with.
Maybe we did get most of them into the closet, but we forgot to take away their megaphones and their Internet access.
Those who feel that “political correctness” (ie, giving even the tiniest shit about the feelings of other people) is and was an unconscionable burden feel … um … unshackled. They don’t have to censor themselves anymore. They can speak freely, think they, regardless of the impact of their words on others. The way it used to be. The way they like it.
We have, in short, awakened the sleeping bigot.
I was the disabled victim of bullying in my adopted home in Northern Colorado. That bullying cost me my house, my life’s savings, and my very health. More than a couple of people have remarked to me how similar my story is to the support for Donald Trump.
Y’see, some people just don’t like having to be civil, decent, and human to disabled people, any more than they like having to dine next to people of color, work next to women (God forbid, women who are paid equally), or sell donuts to gay people. It’s unseemly. It’s un-Christian. It’s un-American.
Or something like that. I’ve never quite understood it, so maybe I’m not the best one to put a name to it.
But that is how so many of them feel. And their feelings have been hurt, and they are the victims of discrimination since — in many cases — their perceived rights to discriminate are being taken from them.
Don’t overthink that. It’s crazy talk no matter how you slice it. It’s really analogous to child molesters protesting that they’re being stripped of their ‘rights to molest children’ because child molesting is illegal.
Are they angry ? Of COURSE, they’re angry. Some of it surely is about the disproportionate impact of the economy on their lives, but let’s face it: that’s not all it is. There is a lot to be said for the diminution of straight, white, Christian male hegemony.
Oh, Man. That’s gotta’ hurt.
But what choice do we have ?
No matter how much time I spend reflecting on it, I just cannot disagree with MLK’s quote. I think we are moving toward justice, even though the pace is achingly slow.
Whenever issues of social justice arise — most recently, marriage equality — the detractors say that it’s too much, too soon. That, they say, is the crux of the backlash among social conservatives. But what timeline would these social conservatives accept (hint: I think I know the answer to this one) ?
This backlash to social progress creates tremendous pressure, straining the seams of that ol’ basket.
But that strain isn’t markedly reduced by ‘moving slowly’ and ‘giving people a chance to get used to the idea,’ so why bother ? Why not just rip the bandage right off ? Justice delayed is justice denied.
Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable. Bestselling books are written about that very subject. We have to remodel the basket, and make it just a touch more comfortable for the deplorables who may have to continue to live in it a little while longer ;-)