I was going to write another election post, one that involved phrases to Trump voters like, “be a rationalist for one minute longer, voter, what is your analysis?” – but I just couldn’t.
But I still want to reach out to those mostly straight white guys who don’t understand why queers, people of colour – hell, women in general – are in such fear this election, when they aren’t. And it’s actually pretty simple.
It’s because there are pretty much zero straight white guys for whom this election is existential. That’s the difference, right there. Polling data relayed by fivethirtyeight.com indicates that, for heterosexual white men, as a demographic group, this is being seen as a fairly normal election – one with extreme rhetoric and a particular contempt for the Democratic Party’s candidate, but “normal.”
But there are lots of people, including me, for whom Mr. Trump’s stated plans are specifically existential matters. See Mr. Trump’s friendliness with white supremacists combined with the GOP’s plainly racist vote suppression efforts, and Mr. Trump’s history of legally actionable racism. See Mr. Trump’s pledges to jail Ms. Clinton if he’s elected. See Mr. Trump’s pledge to appoint justices only if approved by an organisation which thinks states should be able to make me illegal by fiat. See Mr. Trump’s well-known and continuing contempt for women – and as a blinding nexus of misogyny and racism, can you imagine what the reaction would’ve been to Mr. Obama had he sired five children by three wives, talked about how sexy is daughter was, and bragged about grabbing women’s pussies? Ye gods.
Now, I’m kind of used to every election being existential for me. But one of the things Mr. Trump has done has expand that sphere of targeted groups, and that’s a huge shift. By making the white supremacist and virulently misogynist ~~alt-right~~ a political factor, by making all that awfulness campaignable, he’s extended varying degrees of that horrible state out to pretty much everybody not a straight white guy.
(That speech about the secret cabal of international bankers controlling the world a couple of months ago, that really brought out the anti-Semites. He hit every keyword and phrase short of “dirty Jew” in that one.)
So now everything’s existential all the time, and every election is life or death, is citizen or not, is everything-short-of-bombings political war. And republics do not work when elections become existential.
Oh, they can tolerate it for small enough minorities, as the experience of queers over the last couple of decades shows – but not for large percentages of the population. And thanks to Mr. Trump and his courting of the “alt-right” – and the Republican Party’s general abandonment of the idea of a “loyal opposition” – that’s the path we’re on right now.
So maybe this does come back around to my original theme after all. Where are we? Not just you, whoever is reading this, particularly straight white guys for whom the existential nature of this clusterfuck has not yet come to apply – where are we all?
Look at what’s happened over these last many months. Look at where we are now. A victory by Mr. Trump makes this election – this lunacy – the new normal.
Be a rationalist for one minute longer, would-be Trump voter, and tell me – what is your analysis?