I’m still angry at the people who voted for Trump, maybe more than I should be. But, then, I read yet another conflict of interest, or see him tweet something stupid or hateful, and that anger feels pretty justified.
Some of my conservative friends are *really* tired of hearing about this anger. It’s not fair, they say, to lump people who voted for Trump for good reasons with those who deliberately voted to screw over minorities. To me, a lot of those “good reasons” seem pretty dubious, like wanting to criminalize some fictional epidemic of nine-month abortions, or believing that Clinton was more corrupt than Trump. But, let’s say a given Trump voter’s reasons were perfectly legitimate and compelling. They still knowingly elected someone who has incited violence, maliciously slandered minority groups, bragged about committing sexual assault, defrauded contractors, and promised to commit war crimes and discriminate against Muslims. And probably a dozen other horrible things I forgot about, because there are too many to even keep track of.
Regardless of what good they got, or hoped to get, they’ve already caused harm, to the tune of over 700 incidents of harassment or hate crimes reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center. I personally know three people who’ve been targeted. One got a Facebook nastygram about how he should die of AIDS, another had slurs yelled at him at his home, and a third had her home spray-painted wtih swastikas and slurs. There are children being treated for anxiety who never had symptoms before the election, because they’re afraid that they or their parents will be thrown out of the country. There are victims of sexual assault being retraumatized and reminded that they live in a country that doesn’t believe them or care what happens to them.
That’s just the start. It doesn’t include the people who will go without healthcare, or end up in poverty (or worse poverty) due to medical bills when the ACA is repealed. Many of those people will die. It doesn’t include the women who will die if Roe is overturned, from self-induced abortion, or pregnancy complications, or suicide. It doesn’t include war crimes, or Muslim registries, or mass deportation, or global destabilization if we back out of our NATO commitments.
None of that harm is in any way affected by the intentions of the people who voted for it. Whether their intent was to vote for fascism and oppression, or whether their intent was to bring jobs back to the Rust Belt, the impact is the same.
To me, it’s kind of like the trolley problem. You know, the train is rushing toward five people, and you can throw the switch to hit only one. Or it’s rushing toward someone you know, and you can throw the switch to hit five strangers. There are lots of variations.
If you voted for Trump, whatever you valued was on one side of the track, and all those people I mentioned before were on the other. You might be able to make a convincing case for why you threw the switch. Maybe Fox News convinced you that all those other people on the track weren’t really there, but that you yourself would be hit by the train if you did nothing. Maybe you felt that being careless with potentially classified information was a complete dealbreaker, or you believe that Clinton was personally responsible for Benghazi.
Whatever your reasons, good, bad, or indifferent, you threw the switch. Hillary Clinton didn’t make you throw the switch, nor did “PC culture” or “identity politics” or whatever else you want to blame. And now you want all the people you sent the train towards to pretend that nothing has changed. To trust you, the same as they always have. To pretend that they aren’t currently tied to the train tracks, or that the train hasn’t run over their foot already. And you’re so concerned about your own good name that you’re wasting time arguing with them about how their being on the tracks has nothing to do with you, rather than, I don’t know, untying some of them? Maybe driving that guy with the broken foot to the hospital? John Pavlovitz has good suggestions on where to start.