The Exodus Will Not Be Televised
Sure, the ship is slowly sinking, but they aren’t jumping
At this point, my Facebook feed is a perpetual loop of liberals expressing disgust about Charlottesville and demanding denunciation of all things right-wing from every Trump supporter left on their friends list who is, presumably, hiding under a proverbial rock in shame at their misguided alignment with the alt-right.
I, too, was tempted to beat my progressive chest and challenge “them” to stand up, jump ship, and publicly say they are retroactively “with her.” I want to implore them to admit the evil of their ways, declare #NeverTrump, scoff at the protest vote, and embrace our posthumous candidate (yes, as a candidate, our beloved Hillary is indeed dead).
It’s not going to happen. They aren’t going to do it. Or, at least, Zuckerberg has algorithmed us so much that we won’t scroll long enough to see it. And, I doubt it’s happening in their echo chambers either. They are not, as we all hope, “liking” each other’s abandonment of the MAGA endeavor and burning their GOP registration.
Believe me, I’m literally dying to see my friends and family members that I KNOW voted for Trump post a repudiation of that ill-informed choice, pick up a megaphone and join the resistance, but
they aren’t. Not individually, not in toto, and certainly not via social media just because it would earn them a heart emoji from a liberal follower. When Facebook asks, “what’s on your mind?”, they aren’t posting a proclamation of their “post-deplorable” status and commitment to register Dem fast enough to participate in the nearest local primary.
Instead, they are largely silent, many unaware (no judgment, not everyone is cut out for the 24-hour news cycle or, judgment, willing to make their legislator a saved contact in their cell), predominantly apathetic (“This Is Us” is on so I’m busy crying about fake stuff instead) and, many, are doubling down.
NONE of them are being convinced by our posts or our tweets. Certainly not by our vitriol. And, I get it. I love to hate them, to laugh at them, to blame them, to flaunt my coastal elitism, my “cosmopolitan bias”, my pro-intellectualism, because they make it SO easy. And, by the way, fuck them. This is all their fault and they will read my passive-aggressive posts and they will know I am talking about — no, TO — them and they will feel shame and they will feel guilt and they will feel stupid and they will change.
It really is that simple to build our own wall and toss over (many deserved) insults and mockery but that’s kinda how we got into this mess in the first place and it’s precisely how we won’t get back the House in the mid-terms.
And look, don’t get me wrong, I don’t get them either and I don’t like many of them either. I don’t think they understand just how tainted their pool is and that even by watching Fox they are intrinsically part of this shitshow and tacitly endorsing every diarrhea of the fingers tweet, every unqualified cabinet choice and, most importantly, every irresponsible and cruel policy decision.
And, while certainly not every Republican is a white supremacist, every white supremacist is a Republican or further right wing. And, not every Trump supporter is a neo-Nazi, white nationalist, but every neo-Nazi, white nationalist is a Trump supporter. Go ahead and file that in the Bill Maher “I don’t know it for a fact, I just know it’s true” category. However, the vast majority of Trump supporters don’t consider themselves and their values reflected in the atrocities we saw in Charlottesville. That behavior is radical. That behavior is disgusting, un-American (Nope, sorry, it’s the most American and it’s time we admit it. There are former Banana Republics in Latin America that have undergone better post-conflict reconciliation processes than we have even begun to attempt). That is racist and they, of course, are not that. Slavery was bad and Jim Crow-era segregation was a terrible idea but they aren’t willing to watch a documentary on racially-charged gerrymandering or the scourge that is mass incarceration any time soon and while they have black acquaintances, maybe even friends, they think that reparations business is nonsense (let’s keep it 100, this goes for many on the Left too).
The head-in-the-sand, too-busy-to-pay-attention approach is convenient and rampant. These folks are suspicious of much of what has happened since November, but don’t necessarily feel aligned to the party that orchestrated it. They distrusted Hillary as a candidate (but cannot actually elaborate on why) and agree that we should reign in big government (but don’t touch their Social Security), they adore the phrase “fiscal responsibility” (but didn’t get the memo that the GOP means cutting taxes for the rich) and don’t care so much about gay marriage per se, but do not want to share a bathroom with a transgender person (LOL, they always have been). They don’t like this whole Russia thing but what about that whole Benghazi thing? They don’t follow every op-ed piece, podcast, and Sunday morning talk show and have really had it with their social media feed being chock full of political memes and diatribes (LOL, like this one) and really just want to get back to quizzes and Throwback Thursday pics because they aren’t a white supremacist and what about her emails? They sleep fine at night with their vote and this past weekend’s events were terrible but they are busy school shopping so we’ll excuse them for posting that perfectly-crafted family selfie from their beach vacation while UVA burned.
At the end of the day, we’re all either screaming or plugging our ears singing “la la la la la” and, in the process, we risk sabotaging the mid-terms and way more if we don’t try a different approach. I want to convert my followers, my friends, my family members who I know harbor a suppressed Trump crush and tune into Tucker Carlson every night but we aren’t going about it the right way. The Trump campaign and the shameful GOP that rode the MAGA wave into the White House forced Hillary to stand more in opposition to him than she did in promotion of herself and her detailed, multifaceted agenda so I don’t think it crazy to suggest we try a different approach as civilian liberals workin’ the social media platforms. I’m all about lawful assembly, flooding the Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121), tweetstorming every hashtag-worthy piece of the resistance, calling out white supremacists and, equally important, the casual, nonchalant, in-denial racists, for the bigots they are, but if our goal is to win seats, enact progressive laws, and keep America great on our watch, then we’d do well to consider growing our own numbers rather than alienating the potential affiliation swap-ers and swing voters.
Civivilian liberals aside, I would however, like to see the elected Democratic leadership grow a set, double down, and become the party of “aww hell no” by opposing everything he and they do/say that is inconsistent with our agenda. Like it or not, the Tea Party re-calibrated how things work inside the beltway and we’re a long way from the Tip O’Neil-Gipper camaraderie that was once a thing. And, by the way, Neil Gorsuch. They should go bolder than the establishment is comfortable with and be more inclusive than the Bernie bros would prefer because identity politics isn’t dead just yet and may serve to unite more than divide. And, they must learn to articulate an inspiring, where-do-I-sign message in four words or less. “A Better Deal” is more womp womp womp than grab my pen. Oh, and Neil Gorsuch.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the facts, the science, the data, in addition to the country’s moral compass are more aligned with the anti-Trump bloc so let’s back away from the mob justice à la Facebook and, instead, engage in a respectful and diplomatic manner or don’t engage at all. Seriously. Don’t poke the crazies. And, if draining your own social media swamp is what you’re goin’ for, have at it, but preaching to the choir doesn’t take back every seat and branch of government that we’ve lost. This isn’t some kumbayah bullshit where I tell you not engage because “love wins.” It is a plea for us to remember that our version of love doesn’t even stand a chance at winning unless we fight for it wisely and learn from our 2016 mistakes. Being on the right side of history is not enough because elections do have consequences and we will let ourselves get Neil Gorsuched (Mitch McConnelled?) again if we don’t smarten up and realize that this exodus not only will not be televised, but isn’t even happening.