At the time I’m writing this, the votes are still being counted, but several Democrats I trust are saying that Joe Biden is on track to win the election for President. I’m staying cautiously optimistic, but the truth is that I’m so angry with and disgusted by America that I couldn’t sleep last night, and I’ve been having trouble concentrating on anything today. This shouldn’t have been a close race, at all.
Obviously, getting a sane President in office is necessary for us even to survive, and it shouldn’t be underestimated. But it’s somewhat like hearing you probably won’t die in the next few months, but you’ve still got an inoperable, terminal disease.
Over the past five years, I’ve tried — with wildly varying degrees of success — to stay at least somewhat moderate, and give Trump voters the benefit of the doubt. Vocal Trump supporters could of course piss right off, and good riddance. But I strongly believed that most of the people who voted for him in 2016 weren’t vocal supporters, but had just made a bad choice for any one of a thousand possible reasons.
It would be wasted effort to “win them over” politically — Stacey Abrams has the best analogy with “you shouldn’t try to turn Catholics into Baptists; you should try to get more Baptists to go to church” — and we should instead be doing more to keep them from being able to hurt marginalized people, and the concept of American democracy itself, instead of trying to appease them. But going full scorched earth and cutting them out of your life entirely has always felt overly simplistic and bitter.
“People are complicated!” “We need to focus on unity if we want to fix what’s broken in this country!” “We’re not red or blue, we’re purple!”
It’s long past time to tell it like it is: Trump voters had their chance to make up for the mistake they made in 2016. They had the opportunity to show us that they deserved all the benefit of the doubt that we’ve been giving them. That all those years of the media bending over backwards to make excuses for them — economic anxiety! election interference! the growing rural vs urban divide! — were valid and deserved. And they blew it. They decided instead to say “yeah, nah, we’re good. We tried to show you who we were back in 2016, and it’s not our fault you couldn’t believe it. And how dare you judge us for actively working to continue this disastrous, criminal, shitshow?”
Even now, people are going back into overdrive trying to make more excuses for them. “They’re not all racist, they’ve been brainwashed by a massive disinformation campaign!” It’s long past time to ignore that nonsense. Yeah, Fox News lies constantly and brazenly. No shit. They’re free to change the channel and free to educate themselves. Blaming it all on “the media,” or even the Republican Party for that matter, isn’t sympathetic. It’s condescending and infantilizing. It’s just another flavor of the same lie that Republicans are telling them: that 60 million adults shouldn’t be forced to take any responsibility for their own actions.
And that is precisely the thing that has been so infuriating to me for the past four years: that no one who matters at all to me is willing to take responsibility for what they’ve done. I’m blessedly free of hardline Trump supporters in my life. I finally learned to block people wasting my time with abject nonsense, and it wasn’t long into this disastrous nightmare that I happily invited anyone who still supported Trump to block me in return. Several people silently slunk away, so all I was left with was a few people obligated to stay in touch because of family connections, or the people who didn’t even respect me enough to honor my invitation to piss off. And the most I’d ever hear from them is how tiresome it is to be hearing about politics all the time.
I haven’t been quiet about how strongly I feel about the issues, and I’ve been especially vocal about the issues that affect me directly and personally. Nobody ever made an attempt to explain their side; the closest I ever got was hearing that I was being unfair for making assumptions about what their side was, exactly. Oh no, I don’t support Trump — or so goes the common refrain — but I still vote Republican for some bullshit, easily disprovable reason like the preposterous lie that Republicans are good for the economy.1I’m paraphrasing here. Even if that were sincere, instead of being nonsensical, hypocritical, bullshit, they were given a perfect opportunity to prove it by voting against Trump and still voting for all the shitty Republicans down-ticket who aren’t quite as openly terrible people. But they didn’t.
They made their choice. Refuse to let them distance themselves from Trump. They are indelibly stained by Trump, and never let them forget it. I have yet to hear one of them offer an excuse for the disgusting, disqualifying display pictured above, which happened during the damn campaign.
So they’ve left me with absolutely nothing. And still expect me to “reach across the aisle” and work towards unity and reconciliation? Nah, I’m good. I’ll let the Democrats worry about Healing Our Divided Nation. I’m going to be doing whatever I can to help stop a bunch of selfish bigots from hurting more people in their ceaseless attempts to ensure that everyone in the US and the rest of the world is as paranoid, fearful, and miserable as they are.
Michelle Obama, who is awesome, said “when they go low, we go high,” which is exactly the kind of thing that a responsible adult should say at a national party convention. And we do have a responsibility to be honest and accurate, to test our assumptions, to verify anything that we share online, and to think hard about what we’re putting out into the world.
But we don’t have the responsibility to show an NPR-like even-handedness, trying desperately to appease people who won’t even show us the basic respect of explaining why they choose to enable corrupt bigots to hurt us. I’m tired of people reminding us that we can disagree about politics and still be friends, when our disagreements exited the realm of “politics” years ago and crossed into ethics and morality. I’m tired of being expected to give racism, homophobia, and any other dumb-ass bigotry a pass because “it’s not worth making a scene” or “they don’t really mean it” or “it’s just the way they were raised.” And I’m especially tired of hearing that we’re the ones who have to make the effort.
Trump voters had their chance to make things right, and they blew it. Spectacularly. It’s neither petty nor vindictive for us to do everything we can to make sure that they end up as powerless as they’re afraid of being. We’ve seen the selfish choices they make after gross government corruption has resulted in the deaths of well over two hundred thousand Americans. At this point, putting a stop to it is just plain survival.