Christian Gonzalez/Staff Writer
Donald J. Trump’s name can now be placed at the tail end of a list that includes Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The former host of “The Apprentice” will soon feature alongside the Great Emancipator and the vanquisher of fascism. For shame.
I did not want Hillary Clinton to win; I only hoped Trump would lose. Waking up on Nov. 9 and realizing that this didn’t happen was, to say the least, upsetting. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed to much of the Left’s reaction to the election results.
In writing this, I refer not to the understandable fears certain ethnic groups must collectively be feeling — Mexicans (“some of whom are good people”), Muslims (“none of which must enter the United States”) and others.
Instead, I became discouraged when not a critical Facebook status or liberal article went by without some permutation of the words “racist,” “misogynistic” or “xenophobic.” Out came the wild comparisons to Adolf Hitler, the mad ululations of college students demanding a day off to “mourn” the results, the obligatory (for millennials) hashtag of protest: #notmypresident.
The degradation of political dialogue continues even as record lows are reached every day. Some conservatives are guilty of this, too, of course: it’s as historically illiterate to call President Obama and Clinton communists as it is to denounce Trump as a brownshirt.
But the liberals who are genuinely unable to fathom why a person could vote for Trump for reasons other than prejudice are not just wrong and guilty of condescension. They are also wreaking serious damage on the prospects for democratic dialogue.
They miss, first and foremost, that Trump did not win because of the GOP South, which would have voted in favor of anyone whose name was placed next to an “R.”
He won, instead, due to the support of working class voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and to some extent, Wisconsin.
He won, in other words, because of the Rust Belt’s working class. He won because of Trump Democrats.
Never mind that such blue collar workers are, in theory, supposed to constitute the backbone of the Left; these are also the same people who twice decided to send an African American to the Oval Office.
Therefore, labeling half the country “bigoted,” especially with an almost complete lack of data to support such a bold assertion, is misguided, unfair and yes — prejudiced. This holds true even without pointing out that Trump proportionally won more Hispanics and less whites than the well-mannered Mitt Romney.
Reasons abound for Trump’s victory: anti-trade sentiment, fury toward Washington, D.C., the extremes of political correctness. Failure to understand such feelings feeds Trump’s narrative and cheapens political debate.
The main problem, unfortunately, is that many on the Left do not merely believe that Republicans and, by extension, conservatism, are wrong. They are convinced that Republicans and conservatives are evil.
This is why they attempt to define conservative positions out of consideration in debate. Oppose affirmative action or Black Lives Matter? Then you’re a racist. Oppose abortion? A sexist, surely. Against gay marriage? Viciously homophobic.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with defining odious opinions out of the national debate. As the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek often points out, it would be awful to live in a society in which the merits of rape or torture are seriously argued.
Very well. Off with Nazi sympathizers, members of the Klan, apologists for rape or torture. But the ability to define opinions as “out of bounds” is a dangerous weapon, to be wielded sparingly and reluctantly.
Many conservatives, for example, believe that abortion is equivalent to murder and that, as a result, a silent genocide has taken place in America since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. Liberal opponents cry foul and insist on a woman’s right to choose.
The abortion debate can only occur if both sides agree to set aside their passions in favor of rational inquiry. To define opponents as too repugnant for engagement is to crush all opportunity for dialogue.
This sort of self-righteous excommunication is becoming increasingly common with political issues, but it’s happening more and more because of the weaponization of the terms “racist,” “sexist” and so on.
Our civil discourse is in dire need of a more expansive imagination — an imagination which rids people of the ludicrous belief that sixty million voters elected Trump because of the prejudiced wickedness in their hearts.
Maybe I am expecting too much of a generation who is actively conditioned to think with its epidermis. But I don’t think so. I think we can do better.
We can talk to each other, rather than past each other. We can at least aim to fairly understand different motivations. We can be tolerant — not just of various physical characteristics but also of the thoughts that moved the residents of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Image retrieved from Flickr.