From Nov 2016: Mad at Trump Voters

One of the more interesting sub-plots emerging from last November’s election is whether white progressives are ever going to talk to their Trump-voting relatives again. I may exaggerate a little, but there are reports from all over the country of progressives unfriending Trump supporters on facebook, changing holiday travel plans to avoid conservative relatives, and otherwise cutting themselves off from camaraderie with people on the right. In fact, I’ve done all these things myself. I don’t have any close friends who would have voted for Trump but I’ve unfriended some facebook friends and taken a break from others. I’ll be traveling past several conservative siblings on the way to Florida on Saturday but they’ll be lucky to get cards let alone visits.

There’s been a fair amount of surprise over the intensity of the anger over Trump’s election among white people on the left. I’ve seen that surprise from arguments on facebook, conservative writers for the National Review, and even some black commentators. I’m not sure why though. Donald Trump is a sex predator, peeping tom, and con man. He’s not just a racist, but he’s been flamboyantly racist towards blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims while his campaign single-handedly brought anti-Semitic hatred of Jews back into the public sphere. Trump’s also the kind of buffoon who bragged about how he would have dated Ivanka if she hadn’t been his daughter. Voting for Trump wasn’t just “deplorable,” it was despicable and any moral person—not just white progressives– would be obligated to reconsider their connections with Trump supporters.

Of course, this didn’t just didn’t happen overnight. The white population in the United States has been dividing into mutually hostile progressive and conservative tribes since the 1990’s at least. Just before the 2008 election, former Herald-Leader reporter Bill Bishop wrote in The Big Sort that white progressives and conservatives were beginning to move away from each other geographically and concentrate in politically similar neighborhoods and regions. If anything, the Obama years have accelerated that trend as more white progressives move to multicultural urban areas while rural conservatives sink ever deeper into evangelical churches, gun stockpiles, and nostalgia for the manufacturing economy and white-dominated politics of the 50’s. Commentators bemoan the increasing geographical and cultural distance between white progressives and conservatives and African-American writers, in particular, urge white progressives to stay in touch with their conservative contacts in the hope that some form of mutual understanding will develop in the future.

But I don’t see that happening. If the 2016 election has shown anything, it’s the power of bigotry and the lack of moral principles among the 45-46% of voters who supported Trump. In my opinion, white progressives would be better off if they left conservatives behind and became better friends and allies with the African-Americans, Hispanics, immigrant populations, feminist, and gay rights activists who are going to be the prime targets of the Trump administration and its supporters. Becoming more closely tied to minority friends and allies involves a number of issues for progressives whose lives have been as shaped by white privilege as any other white people. Progressives would do well to expand their personal allegiances, shared culture, and political alliances with other groups in the America’s democratic multicultural coalition while continuing to loosen their bonds with the white conservative world. That way there’s a chance that we can emerge as a better country after the dark days of the Trump administration.

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