In the spirit of the holidays, I have a proposition for our Trump-supporting friends.
Say, “Fuck you.” Say it to my face.
Say it to my liberal, city-dwelling, higher-educated, Democratic-Party-voting, Starbucks-swilling, Whole-Foods-shopping, Heather-Has-Two-Mommies-reading face.
Say it morning, noon and night.
Say it as often as you want. As loud as you want. Say it in front of my husband, my daughter, and all my friends. Say it over and over and over again.
Get it out of your system. So that the rest of us can GO BACK TO WORK.
That’s my present. That’s my gift to you, Trump supporters. That’s my extension of empathy and generosity and understanding, based on everything I’ve heard and everything I’ve read about you since the election.
You see, I understand you have been left behind by the economy. I understand you have been struggling for a while, even before the dot-com boom and bust, before the 2008 crash, before the anemic “recovery” that didn’t help you recover from anything.
But I understand something else, too.
Racism is certainly a part of the story when these people make calculations about deservingness and who is or is not working hard. People would talk about opposing social programs because the recipients were lazy and not hardworking like themselves; those were often dog-whistle racist claims. But, at times, they were also talking about the laziness of desk-job white professionals like me.
So racism is a part of this resentment, but we are failing to fully understand these perspectives when we assume that racism is more fundamental than calculations of injustice. The two elements are intertwined. The way these folks described the world to me, their basic concern was that people like them, in places like theirs, were overlooked and disrespected. They were doing what they perceived good Americans ought to do to have the good life. And the good life seemed to be passing them by.
It’s worth noticing that Trump’s appeal to these folks is not about facts or particular policies. It is instead the act of delivering a message that resoundingly resonates with the perspective of someone identifying proudly as a resident of a type of place that the dominant urban society does not care about or respect.
I can’t do much about the location of the state capitals or the legislative schedule. I can’t make people’s representatives listen to them or interact with them, nor can I make people show up to the community meetings their reps might have. I can’t make anyone feel more comfortable in his or her skin any more than I can give anybody a job right now.
But maybe I can do something about the deep, abiding, burning need to tell someone who exemplifies what you hate to go straight to hell.
You want to prove you’re an underdog who tells the libtards who don’t respect you to go straight to hell, people?
You want to give the middle finger to everything that bugs you, including Happy Holidays at Macy’s, someone speaking Spanish on her cell phone at the restaurant, an ethnic scholarship at your high school, a gay storyline in your favorite police procedural?
Make that stupid Hillary “KFC” joke ten times. Tell me the story about Michelle Obama putting crack pipes on the Christmas tree at the White House. Talk about how Bill Clinton is the biggest sex offender the world has ever known. Offer your opinion that “we” have “banned” God from “the schools.”
Ooh, call me a babykiller. That one never gets old.
Send me a hundred memes just like this one:
I’ll post them on my Facebook timeline. I’ll nod and agree with anything you say. I’ll feel very, very bad about myself and everything I stand for. I may even cry, if that’s what it takes.
I am more than willing to take one for the team.
In exchange, you vote for health insurance for your sick neighbors. You expand Medicaid for your state’s poorest residents. You don’t fight about food stamps and subsidized housing, in fact, you support them.
In exchange, you vote for punishment for companies that poison your water. You support jury awards of damages for corporations convicted of harm to the environment and the people who live in it.
In exchange, you vote for lowering the Social Security retirement age. You vote for increased funding for public education. You vote for restoring the Voting Rights Act and you vote for expanding it to every state in the union: No one gets to fuck with anyone’s vote without review or check.
You vote for honest-to-God campaign finance reform, and consideration of judicial appointees in a timely manner so that the fucking courts can do their job.
You vote for all that shit, and you can tell me to my face that I’m a lazy liberal who doesn’t understand the real world, and I will agree with you.
You make your life better, you make my life better, you make our country better, and you GET WHAT YOU WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING, which is to say fuck you.
I mean it. I’m sick of people I love suffering because you want to make a statement. Because you want to have feelings about your place in the world. Because deep down you get mad and sad that you are not being given a parade for showing up every day. Because you resent.
I’m offering you a way out. Go ahead.