November 11, 2016

Some post-election thoughts

Am I taking crazy pills or does this post-election narrative of "lower-income white working class people voted for Trump because they're poor, their communities are succumbing to drug abuse, and they're disenfranchised—not because they were motivated by racism, misogyny, and bigotry" not make any sense? Keep in mind that minorities have had those exact same problems in this country for centuries, but somehow managed to vote, in an overwhelming majority, for Hillary Clinton.

I'm seeing this week's analysis break down into a few different camps:

— White male analysts: The DNC failed to pay attention to the needs of this country's white working class; media "elites" failed to give proper weight to the grievances of the white working class in this country; Democrats should have done more to back Bernie Sanders in the primaries (this all in spite of the fact that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the general election).

— White female analysts: We were optimistic, but the misogyny ingrained in our society made the election's results inevitable. We blame ourselves, we need to work even harder next time (as if Hillary Clinton didn't work hard enough).

— Minority analysts: Trump supporters voted for him because they fear people who aren't just like them. Their vote for Trump was a last grasp at maintaining white male power in this country: see the ensuing fallout and rampant increase in hate crimes and race-based harassment over the past three days (wherein perpetrators have near-universally invoked Trump's name as justification for their criminal behavior).

I don't really have any definitive thoughts on how to explain what happened on Tuesday. The United States is a big country, and there's no blanket statement that can account for the behavior of hundreds of millions of people. But my gut instinct is that the "why" of this week lies somewhere between these three mainstream trains of thought—and probably leans more heavily on the bigotry, misogyny, and racism explanation than white male analysts would like to admit or acknowledge.

The most important thing right now, I think, and the only thing we can do at this point is support and protect the vulnerable in our country—minorities, people who identify as LGBTQ, and our children—from hate-motivated attacks and bullies. I'm disgusted by what's happening in the United States right now.

One thing that's really been bothering me over the past few months is the rallying cry of some people I know (and am friendly with) against political correctness. Sure, the term "politically correct" is pretty absurd—I first started hearing it in the late-80s and it was always widely satirized as an extreme version of self-censure. But if you stop and think for just a minute about what political correctness really means: it really means civil dialogue, being conscious of how your words impact others, and not going out of your way to call people names. Being politically correct means: not being an asshole. That seems like a pretty good way to go about life: Don't be an asshole. I think our country could use a little bit of political correctness and civil dialogue right now. We could also definitely use fewer assholes.