Sore Winners

On February 21, 2017, the Village Green of Maplewood & South Orange, NJ ran a piece about the lack of political diversity in the area, and how people with differing opinions have felt shunned by their supposedly open-minded neighbors. It contained a reference to a closed group FaceBook discussion about local businesses whose owners were “obnoxiously pro-Trump.” I was the person who started that discussion.

The discussion began after a local pro-Trump businessperson got nasty with me online about politics. I was not at that moment interested in making a specific complaint about nastiness from a particular pro-Trump businessperson — I was interested in a discourse about discouraging that kind of nasty behavior from local merchants by making it clear that we, as individuals and as a community, do not have to buy things from people who treat us badly.

I got a lot of messages. Some were from acquaintances and friends; some were from sincere-seeming strangers; but some seemed like they were gearing up for a battle I was not interested in fighting, trying to make things personal, to “gather evidence” and provoke even worse nastiness. Things devolved from there. Strangers began accusing me of leading a witch hunt; of having and distributing a McCarthyite list, etc. I got tired of sustaining the whole mess and deleted the thread within half a day of posting it.

After that unpleasant experience, I thought about starting a local action page for people to post about local (verifiable) instances of obnoxious Trump-ism that a person could reasonably react to by closing their wallet. I’m still unsure why this concept is so controversial. People are quick to pass around a link regarding a boycott of (for instance) L.L. Bean based on the bad actions of one board member. If there were an artisanal Widget Maker in your town who was constantly gassing off about liberals or minorities being parasites, wouldn’t you want to know about it so you could take your widget business to the next town over? I sure would.

As all this was percolating, some people, like those interviewed in the Village Green article, have been rallying around screenshots they took of my deleted thread, showing it as evidence that they, Trump (or Stein or Johnson) supporters, are being silenced, harassed, and intimidated. So persecuted are these people by me and others, that they felt justified in going underground and begging anonymity for the article.

My position is that these people are behaving petulantly. If the Trump-supporting “winners” of this election are unpopular among the rest of the townspeople, the liberal or centrist “losers,” it is not because of their personal decision to directly or indirectly cast a secret ballot for Donald Trump. It is because they believe winning the election entitles them to bray about it, while their minority status in the community entitles them to whine about “intolerance” if anyone tells them to go shove it.

Normally in this kind of a conversation, I would try at this point to explain the phenomenon of DARVO, an acronym for Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender. This is a characteristic trick abusers use to convince others that their victim is the abuser and they are the victim, that they use to rope others into helping them perpetrate their abuse.

And I am not casually using the word, “abuser.” Since the election, and especially since the inauguration, it has been very difficult to think of anyone who knows what Trump and his handlers stand for and who still knowingly supports them, as anything but an abuser.

Trump campaigned specifically on the promise to maltreat our LGBT friends, our African-American friends, our Muslim friends, our immigrant friends, our female friends, and our environment, and he has wasted no time in doing so. While his maltreatment of our political institutions and national laws were not explicit campaign promises, they were reasonably foreseeable.

I have nothing personal against any particular Trump voter, but I believe — and I am far from alone in believing — that they voted consciously against me, my family, our neighbors, the advancement of society, and the future of planet earth; and that they, as adult Americans, are responsible for making that choice. Whether they were end-stage Hillary Haters or $elfi$h people who bought into Trump’s children’s-menu-slash-coloring-book-placemat version of the American economy, they had the right to vote however they liked. But they do not have a right to my respect or the respect of the community.

To read the Village Green article about them, shivering and huddled around their flickering screenshots, Möbius-blubbering about an election they won, and complaining about being victimized by intolerant losers — one loses both patience and hope for these people.

I will say this plainly: I doubt highly, from all my experience in South Orange & Maplewood and throughout my life, that any of these people have received threats of any kind, or been silenced or oppressed in any way.

And lest they come back and challenge this assertion as one made from a person in a comfortable majority: I have been a minority voice on some heatedly-debated local issues, none of them of any great consequence to the community. I was astonished to find that I had lost acquaintances and that people I had never met would be rude or call me mentally ill online. It wasn’t pleasant, but I knew that however badly some people acted, I was confident in my position.

With that experience in hand, I wonder what these people have. Their position worsens with every news cycle, and their demands for respect and sympathy lose authority with every complaint. If they regret supporting Trump, they can always apologize for it. If they don’t want to do that, they can just stop talking about it. If they don’t want to do that, I wonder what they do want. To be right? That ship has sailed.

I do know this: they wouldn’t last a week as an actual minority in this country — they’re not tough enough.