Colin Jost Is Why The Democrats Lost
On the November 19 episode of Saturday Night Live, Colin Jost referred to Tinder’s new options for recognizing gender outside of a cisheteronormative spectrum as “the reason the Democrats lost the election”.
November 20th was Transgender Day of Remembrance, where trans people and our supporters mourn the trans people murdered in hate crimes (usually by cisgender, heterosexual-identified men).
I’m not going to waste my time appealing to Colin Jost’s sense of shame. SNL has been a flagship in normalizing transphobic violence. Whenever they can get a misogynist, anti-LGBT, fundamentalist Republican to come on their show and a be in on the joke of their own reprehensibility, they do it, every time. Anyone who works for SNL is impervious to such appeals.
Maybe they repress their shame, the way their unoriginal rabbit-punching of queer people, disabled people, people of color, immigrants, and abuse survivors have likely caused those people to take up less space, to speak up less, and to keep their heads down.
And maybe that repression will help Colin Jost assimilate into the America that Trump and his white nationalist administration have in mind for us.
Every struggling social movement has their Colin Josts; they take up our causes not because it resonates with their values, but because doing so is an extension of his superior intellect; he’s here because he knows better, and the second you tell them otherwise, once you force them to confront their privilege and the ways they actually aren’t helping, they forsake you for someone who will appreciate their rightness.
And every reactionary movement is replete with Colin Josts, brought together by a shared spite for those feisty minorities who wouldn’t recognize their individuality. They tried to tell us: they had gay best friends, they took Women’s Studies courses in college, they voted for Barack! But it’s too late now. We had our chance. But now they’ve found new friends. People who appreciate their gifts.
The Colin Josts of the world form the fifth column.
Trans people asking for accommodations to avoid being sexually assaulted and/or murdered by men did not cost Democrats the election.
White men cost the Democrats the election.
White men voted for Trump.
White men brought guns to polling places to intimidate people of color from voting.
White men bragged about donating money to the North Carolina GOP when their office burned down, because “we’re all Americans and we need to play fair”. With each other, as white men. When the vestiges of white supremacy were damaged, white men rallied to continue subsidizing the suppression of the black vote.
When white men had opportunities to call out white nationalists for what they were, they insisted they were “controversial” or even “dapper”.
White men asserted, in thinkpiece after thinkpiece, that the inevitable violence against women, PoC, queer people and immigrants was worth not voting for a woman. They knowingly ignored her genuine faults — her complicity in war crimes, her racism, her Johnny-come-lately acceptance of gay marriage — things that could have led to genuine debate, and instead propagated one insipid conspiracy after another which would rile up the misinformed and baffle the opposition.
White men wore their white supremacy literally on their heads.
And they did all this because they knew that, push came to shove, that they could count on the Colin Josts of the world to clean up and normalize them.
They knew they could offer up the sparsest crumbs of rationalization — the trans people did this with their bathrooms, they forced us to embrace white nationalism— and that men like Colin Jost would latch onto it, if not for an unspoken gratitude for white men ensuring he would remain at the top of society, then maybe out of naivety or guilt at his own privilege or complicity or whatever the fuck, who fucking cares.
White male rage has walled our country into a bloody years-long conflict over the right of the not-straight-white-men to exist free from state-sanctioned hate violence.
And the Colin Josts of the world are intent to make us pay for it.
ETA: My focus on white men in this essay isn’t meant to downplay the role that white women had in electing Trump. You can read about the ways racism influenced the white female vote here, here, and here.