We Need Vigilance Against Bigotry, and That Means Increasing Our Understanding—Of Trump Voters

Emotions were extremely high this election, and one only need glance at social media to see that.  My regional, educational, and generational cohort swing liberal, so I’ve seen the gamut of raw, day-after shock and anger.  Much of it calls for vigilance against further bigotry and hatred of the kind we saw during the campaign.  And it’s spot-on.  We will need to be vigilant in opposing further bigotry and ignorance out of Trump, or bigotry he might continue to inspire or expose.  LGBT and racial minority rights and relations are literally a matter of life and death for many Americans, and directly affect the quality of life for the rest.  We are in this together after all (and even if we somehow weren’t, every decent person still deserves a decent life!)

Some of the reactions go further, and blame Trump voters for being ignorant, racist, sexist, selfish, or hateful—that as privileged whites, they’ve demonstrated that they don’t care about the needs or aspirations of anyone but themselves, or people superficially like themselves.

But to the people who feel this way, who are assigning blame this way, please remember—people’s choices were constrained.  Most of America wouldn’t have chosen Trump to be a nominee, and it should provide some small relief knowing that ~70% of America disapproves of him, despite the 48% (of people who voted) who voted for him.  Most people are appalled by the disgusting, offensive, and hateful things he’s said, even those people who checked his name on the ballot.

The reason many people chose him over Clinton in spite of all that is not because they are white, or because they only care about themselves, or only care about white straight men.  Starting from that premise assumes far too much about their motives, and assumes the worst about them—its the least empathetic interpretation of their decision, and is thus an extremely inaccurate interpretation in most cases.  It’s also thus a non-starter for building understanding and working together to move forward as a country.

What would you say to the 29% of Latinos who voted for him?  Or the 8% of blacks?  Or the 29% of asians?  Are they all “white” on the inside?  The very notion is offensive.

What would you say to the 14% of LGBT voters who chose him?  Are they simply unaware of who they are?  Do they not care about their own rights?

You have to be willing to understand someone’s decision-making before you judge their motive, or before you assume they made such a decision out of prejudice, ignorance or callousness—or even privilege. Many of the people who are appalled by some of Trump’s attitudes, also have fears about war, or the balance of power in society, or terrorism, or the economy, or malfeasance in government.  Those are life and death matters too.  Decisions about war and peace are clearly a life and death matter.  And the health and accountability of our institutions intimately affects everyone’s opportunities and quality of life.  Many of the same people who voted Trump are themselves economically down and out, disadvantaged, suffering because they have been beaten down by society in one way or another, held back by a government that is corrupted, or left behind by established interests and institutions that enrich themselves at others’ expense.

A thought experiment: hypothetically, if Hillary Clinton fueled a war in a smaller foreign country that Donald Trump wouldn’t have fueled, and 100,000 people died as a result, and a million ended up in refugee camps—is all that death and suffering “worth it”, to have a president who is a bigger proponent of LGBT rights for four years?  What if the actual resulting policy difference, or cultural difference, between candidates around those rights is minimal, or non-existent in those four years?  What if the war was with Russia, and the prospect of war actually threatened your life and livelihood, and your family’s?

Now, you may disagree with the premise that Clinton would be more likely to fuel war than Donald Trump, and you may hotly contest and debate that premise.  Good!  Society needs such debates.  But that debate gets off to a really bad start if you assume someone believes such a premise, or gives it the weight they do, simply because of the color of their skin.

So please do not fret, about this, at least: the results of this election do not mean bigotry has won.  It does not mean half of America is okay with bigotry.  If we understand that, we’ll all be better equipped to operate in the political arena in the coming years, to work together to make the world a better place for all, and a better place particularly for the most disadvantaged among us.

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Some Overlooked Considerations When Choosing a Presidency (not just a president)

On November 8th, we’re not just electing a president, we’re choosing a presidency.

A Donald Trump presidency would see his feet held firmly to the fire by the media on many, if not most, issues—just as we’ve seen so far.

A Clinton presidency, and we’d see: more of the wall-to-wall obfuscation of the Clintons’ self-enriching, corrupt “charity work” and the ongoing obligations they have as a result, or the morally bankrupt worldview it represents; and more obfuscation of her obsession with projecting American power militarily, and encirclement and brinksmanship with Russia.

Donald Trump is an awful person, and certainly unfit to be president.  He could do a lot of damage to the country and the world.  But at least he’d be held somewhat accountable by a media that clearly has an interest in opposing him.

Hillary Clinton is also an awful person, and certainly unfit to be president.  She could also do a lot of damage to the country and the world.  THE MAJOR DIFFERENCE IS: she would not be held accountable by the media to nearly the same extent—they would continue to shield her, keeping the public in the dark as they so often deliberately do, making it that much easier for her to march us to war with Russia, to pour new record amounts of weapons into the Middle East (surpassing the records she set as SoS), to fuel civil wars in a few more countries that refuse to roll over and be complete U.S. puppets, to continue to aid and abet terror-exporting Gulf states, to continue to support Islamic extremists in Syria for the sake of unnecessary regime change.  Millions more people could die, tens of millions more could suffer and be displaced.  And if she should lead us into war with Russia (which could come sooner than later if she enacts her no-fly zone, which she’s been itching to do), those numbers might not “just” be numbers any more—civilian Americans might be faced with risking their own lives and livelihood for unnecessary war, rather than somebody else’s, for the first time in a long while.

And that’s just on foreign policy.

There’s a whole other realm of her shady, staunchly pro-corporate worldview that poses a threat to the quality of life domestically, and a threat to the health of our politics, our government, and our economy.

For these reasons, when I look at these two astoundingly awful candidates, I can’t shake the feeling that Clinton is the more dangerous.  This comes from someone who can count on one hand the number of Republicans they’ve voted for in their life, and has said for years that Trump is a toxic, ignorant, xenophobic buffoon.  But to me, the behind-closed-doors machinations of an extremely well-connected Kissinger acolyte draw a clearer line to death and suffering in the world, than does divisive, ignorant bluster spewed into a microphone—particularly when that bluster is roundly condemned by American media and both political parties in this country.

No matter who is elected, we will have some serious challenges ahead in constraining their behavior, but such is the conundrum we find ourselves in.  I personally will be voting for Gary Johnson, and I encourage everyone else in a non-battleground state to vote for either Johnson or Stein.  The more support they get, the more likely we are to break free from the two-party stranglehold that put us in this situation in the first place.

If you’re not in a locked-in blue or red state, I won’t tell you who you should vote for.  Directly advocating either way in this regrettably high-stakes crapshoot, for such terrible candidates, wouldn’t feel right.  But I will encourage you to make as informed of a decision as possible, and to please, inform yourself about Clinton’s history on foreign policy (my other essays would be a good place to start), and about her fundamentally corrupt style of politics and governance (the latest Doug Band / John Podesta emails would be a good place to start, as well as the repeated intersection of corporations (and Gulf dictatorships!) who donated to the Foundation, paid the Clintons millions for speeches, and/or received lucrative State Dept-approved contracts).  I assume, thanks to the media, that you’re already familiar with Trump’s deplorable personal behavior, suspect business practices, and dangerous policy ideas, but if you’re not, I certainly encourage you to read up on those too.

And when you enter that booth, or mark that ballot at home, please, above all, consider the totality of the presidency and its potential effects, including how they will be treated by the media, the Congress, and already established elites, and whether or not as president they’ll be enabled or opposed in enacting the more troubling aspects of their agendas.