Liberals: Stop The Self-Loathing And Get To Fucking Work

Photo Credit // ABC News

I have so many rants about the aftermath of this election, but I’m going to try to focus on just one thing that has been driving me crazy lately: Progressives drowning in self-defeating guilt over their liberal ideals.

Jon Stewart said that Democratic voters were being “hypocrites” for the way they criticized Trump supporters, Anthony Bourdain asserted that the “smug, self-congratulatory left” caused Trump’s victory, and Bernie Sanders even stated that “political correctness” was the reason for Trump’s ascendency.

Yeah, let’s be real: The vast majority of people searching for ways to explain away the bigotry that Trump voters empowered are the folks who won’t be deeply affected by his presidency. They’ll go on ad nauseum about “economic anxiety” while ignoring the fact that Hillary Clinton WON THE WORKING CLASS VOTE and talked about jobs/the economy more than ANY OTHER ISSUE.

All of this culminates in a deep sense of self-loathing among liberals that is counterproductive to the cause. When progressives co-opt right-wing talking points about how Democrats are “latte-sipping” “smug elites,” who “live in bubbles,” they’re doing Republicans’ rhetorical dirty work for them. What’s more, these characterizations are wholly inaccurate — Trump voters have a HIGHER median income than Clinton supporters, and blue urban centers more closely resemble America than red rural areas. As George Lakoff, a linguistics professor at UC Berkeley, underlines about the importance of establishing your own narrative:

When arguing against the other side, don’t use their language because it evokes their frame and not the frame you seek to establish. Never repeat their charges! Instead, use your own words and values to reframe the conversation.

And yet, I hear way too much deference toward conservative voters from my fellow liberals. They argue that we should try to “understand” Trump voters’ motivations and see if we can convert them over to our side of the aisle. To that I say, THERE ARE LITERALLY THREE MILLION MORE OF US, and it’s a waste of fucking time. Yes, if you have privilege, you should seek to expand the minds of people who are less inclusive, but politically speaking, this is not where we should be focusing our efforts to win back legislative power.

In one of the more insightful comments after the election, an anonymous poster observed:

The truth is that the winning side, the people who want what Trump promised, don’t give a fig for your understanding. They don’t need your common ground. They already got what they want.

The assertion that you owe a debt of understanding to the people who embraced Trump is a distraction meant to dissipate your energy. Save your compassion for the people he is gonna hurt.

Kara Brown from Jezebel brilliantly expanded upon this point further in her op-ed, “Love Is Not the Answer”:

Frankly there isn’t much to the idea that complex issues can be solved with a kumbaya circle…The rights of the minority have never been granted simply because the majority finally came around and changed its mind. Racism and bigotry are not the result of unfriendliness nor will they be undone by the opposite. We must ask if changing the minds of the few who are both reachable and open is the best use of our energy during a time that demands so much of it….We must fight to win — the safety of the vulnerable depends on it. Be the opposition your opposition deserves. Be the opposition that can defeat them. Because on the other side — on their talk shows and Facebook pages and Twitter accounts — they aren’t worried about our economic anxiety or the fear behind our decision-making. And they aren’t talking about loving us.

So instead of burning emotional energy trying to get through to Trump voters, call your reps. Go to town hall meetings. Volunteer your time toward social advocacy groups fighting poverty, voter suppression, and regressive reproductive policies, among many other worthy issues. Vote in midterm, state, and local elections. Get your friends involved and keep each other accountable.

We’re not going to win every battle over the next four years, but look at what our collective firepower can accomplish:

Because in this frightening new era that will test every democratic ideal that we hold dear, no one’s gonna save us but ourselves.


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