Wednesday, February 22, 2017

An Appeal to the Better Angels that Guide Us

In 1984 during his re-election campaign Ronald Reagan asked quite simply, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”  Enough Americans felt they and thus secured him another 4 years when they took to the polls.

A lot of Americans DID benefit from the policies of President Obama during his eight years in office.  Many of them in more urban or suburban areas.  However, in more rural areas, people saw their health care premiums go UP with the ACA, they saw their cost of living rise at a rate that was greater than the rate of increase in their income, and no they are/were actually worse off after 8 years of Obama than they had been when Bush left office in January 2009.

These people felt abandoned and betrayed by the establishment.  They felt a vote for Hillary was a vote to perpetuate the status quo that had existed under Obama and thus perpetuate their struggle and the decline in their quality of life.  Many of these people aren’t racist and they aren’t homophobic.  They didn’t vote on social issues, they voted based on their bank accounts and their wallets.  They were so disenfranchised that they were willing to overlook Donald J. Trump’s homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, racism, narcissism… heck the whole long and extended list of his many faults and voted for him.  These are voters that were willing to ignore Trump’s faults because after 8 years of Barack Obama they actually were WORSE off than before.  That may not be your reality, nor mine, but it is theirs and their voices deserve to be heard just as much as yours or mine.

That being said, I’m not going to candy-coat it.  There IS a racist element of Trump supporters.  They are a minority of the popular minority that elected him.  But they are the ones that are emboldened by Trump’s racist immigration policies.  They are the ones acting out against those that are different—different race, different sexual orientation, different religion.  They are the products of the socio-political climate that Trump has created and they will grow even more emboldened the longer Trump is in office.  But they ARE a minority.

I’m making this appeal, I’m making this strong appeal to my friends on the left.  I DON’T want eight years of Donald J. Trump.  But if you continue to marginalize Trump supporters, if you continue to make broad-sweeping generalizations about their character, their views on race, sexual orientation, etc. etc.  and berate them, insult them, call them names, you will only further embolden them.  You will ensure that Trump WILL get re-elected.  We’re still very early in Trump’s first term, there’s time to change the course.  We need to appeal to those who voted for Trump because they were disenfranchised with the status quo.  We need to listen to them, to learn how Obama’s policies made them worse off, not better off and we need to ensure that the candidates we choose to run against Trump in 2020 address those concerns. 

People’s minds aren’t changed all at once, it’s all a matter of degrees.  Our most successful presidents have governed not from the left nor the right, but from the middle.  They have understood the value of unity and compromise and they have understood that they can’t marginalize or berate any of their constituents whose politics run counter to theirs.  A good leader will recognize the qualities that bring us together.


TAD said...

Hi, Plex -- I appreciate your careful sense of balance on this issue, and your willingness to gently speak your mind. However, I think you've left the concept of selfishness out of your discussion.
Yes, people voted with their wallets -- but I think they also very much voted with a sense of WHAT WAS BEST FOR THEM. Not necessarily what was best for the country.
Not sure why any woman would vote for Trump -- I continue to think most of his backers were frustrated, past-it, aging lower- and middle-class white men who missed their shot the first time around and now look to Trump to get all the benefits and goodies and advantages they think minorities have been getting for years. They think Trump will give them one more shot at the brass ring that they were too lazy and self-involved to take the first time around.
I continue to think that white people take more advantage of The System than any minority I've ever met. I see these people every day.
And it's always aging white men who lecture me at work about how Trump will Make This Country Great Again. That happened BEFORE the election. And it's happened too many times for me to have much patience left for it. Who are they trying to convince?
I'm not sure it makes much difference who's President anymore, but I sure don't want this country turning into a power-mad fascist dictatorship, where the only people who benefit are the President's business buddies.
Can't we just be a little nicer to each other and the planet, and maybe give each other a break -- not step on each other's toes, or each other's rights?
...Good to see you're still blogging, by the way. I thought you'd "retired." I've missed some of your recent posts....

Perplexio said...

Fatherhood has put a substantial dent in my time, but I do blog every once in awhile. I'm a regular contributor to Something Else Reviews, a music blog/website so most of my writing of late has been about music.

I still consider myself a bit of a right leaning centrist. I supported Ohio Governor, John Kasich in the GOP primaries and even sent a note to him via his website today expressing my support should he decide to run against Trump in 2020.