Voters Have Agency; Treat Them As Such
“Some will read this article and accuse me of looking down on Trump supporters. It’s actually the opposite. I’m respecting their choice. Democrats should too.”
I think the excellent part of this essay is it nails the agency-denying nature of arguments from both parts of the left and the right. Irrespective of filter bubbles, misleading and fake information, and heated rhetoric, everyone has the ability and the duty to weigh the options and make their vote intelligently.
When Trump supporters claim that they’ve been victimized by ‘political correctness’ or ‘liberals’ or ‘the intolerant left’ and this victimization forced them to vote for Trump, they deny their own agency. They reduce themselves to an infantile state merely reacting to external stimuli through their vote. This is especially egregious for the party that crows about ‘person responsibility.’
Trump voters should not shy away from owning the consequences of their vote. They have the right to decide that the potential result of voting for Trump was better than the alternatives, but they should be honest about those results. Saying that they support an ethno-nationalist ideology is not a slur, it’s an accurate description if their choice.
If Trump does what he promised, they should bear that responsibility. Only if he breaks his promises and does something else would they be right to claim that they are unfairly persecuted (strictly speaking, they could be responsible for electing a president who boasted about ‘being unpredictable,’ but I’ll cut them some slack on this one)
Likewise, Democrats’ claims that Trump voters couldn’t help but vote for him, infantilizes Trump voters. Claiming their aversion to ‘identity politics’ or Hillary Clinton or ‘political correctness’ overcame them and forced them to vote for Trump denies these voters their agency.
Cognitive bias exists, echo chambers exist, and fake news exists. These make it harder for people to discern the true consequences of their vote. None of them absolve people of their duty to make an intelligent and purposeful vote. As long as it is merely difficult to make an informed choice, not outright impossible, they will have this duty.
What is right is not always what is easy.
Thank you for pointing out that voting for Trump and all he stands for is a choice, and we should treat it as such.