The Left

Sorry, not Our Fault

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Donald John Trump, Sr., born June 14, 1946, is an American business magnate, investor, television personality, author, and 2016 US Presidential candidate. | Donald Trump, Investor, Presidential Candidate, Money, Real Estate, Hair, Personality, Wealth, Face,

Liberals didn't create the Trump voters

A common topic for conservative pundits in recent months is that we shouldn't blame Republicans for Republican voters making Trump the Republican nominee.

Some writers have argued we should blame Trump's blue-collar supporters for being pathetic failures. Pundit Megan McArdle says it's a complete coincidence that a racist, sexist candidate happens to appeal to a lot of Republican voters. The take I've seen most often, though, is that Trump's popularity should be blamed on liberals.

National Review's David French, for example, argues that feminism drives men to become sexual predators ("living a life in full reaction against feminism") so Trump, as the ultimate alpha predator, became their hero. Likewise Fox's Andrea Tantaros has explained that guys see Trump as "their last hope to get their masculinity back." Other writers have argued more generally that Republicans vote for Trump because he's a voice against "political correctness."

No question a lot of conservatives (no, not all) resent what they imagine is liberal oppression. They resent being forced to let gay couples get married (some conservatives, as I've mentioned before, equate gay marriage supporters with segregationist Bull Connor attacking civil-rights marchers). They resent that government officials who issue marriage licenses have to do their job even when they don't want to. They resent being forced to tolerate Muslims living among us, building mosques to worship their heathen god. They resent women having the option to have sex without pregnancy. They resent having to see someone they didn't vote for leading the country — I've known conservatives for whom electing a Democratic president was by definition oppression.

And for many right-wingers, criticism is a kind of oppression too. Saying that opposing gay rights isn't the moral godly side, it's the side of hate. Saying that dropping the n-word or calling blacks inferior and subhuman is racist, rather than just a plain statement of fact. Criticizing people for saying such things isn't just disagreement, it's political correctness and thought policing — how dare liberals sit in judgment on them instead of letting them judge everyone else!

It's not surprising some people with those attitudes gravitate to Trump. Not only does he vent their feelings openly (declaring Mexican immigrants are rapists lusting for the flesh of white women rather than bland statements about controlling our borders), he never backs down. Trump never appears embarrassed by anything he says, even when it's lies. He's "politically incorrect" — a wonderful phrase that pretends cliched bigoted sentiments are daring and radical — and proud to be so. For people who can't shrug off criticism as easily as Trump does, he's a symbol of defiance against the supposed tyranny of the liberal thought police.

Liberals didn't create this, any more than Obama can be blamed for people thinking he's a secret Muslim or for the Birther conspiracy. His election triggered a flood of political paranoia but the problem is with the people who choose to buy into it, not with Obama. The attitudes that fuel right-wing resentment have always been with us. Racism didn't disappear when slavery ended, when Jim Crow ended, or when Obama got elected. Sexism hasn't gone away despite women's gains over the past half-century, nor have the growing number of non-Christian Americans ended religious intolerance. If anything, resentment has intensified as traditional white Christian male dominance continues losing its influence (the influence isn't gone, but it's way less than it used to be).

But no matter how miserable some voters feel about being criticized, I can't feel any sympathy. Criticizing bigotry, sexism and hate is a good thing (excluding death threats, rape threats, doxxing and other forms of harassment and intimidation of course). People who brand blacks as mentally inferior, think any woman who uses birth control is a slut, or that gays are all pedophiles deserve to get flak. Even if the flak fuels their delusion they're the most unjustly oppressed people who ever existed.

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Updated Apr 24, 2017 7:34 AM EDT | More details

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