Look, I am also freaked out by the 70 million voters who wanted four more years of what so many of us experienced as a nightmare. I also felt fear, dread, and disappointment as the numbers rolled in, feelings that stood independent of the election results. And then my liberal “friends” started unfriending Trump voters and writing off 70 million people as “racists” and “bad people” and “evil” on Facebook. I have so much to say about this that it will take several posts, but let’s start with a rational list of the kinds of people who voted for Trump. Please feel free to add your own.
- White Supremacists
- Single issue “pro-life” voters
- Cuban and Venezuelan immigrants who associate socialist democracy with fascist communism
- Evangelical Christians who think Trump is literally a flawed savior carrying their values into the law
- Rich people who don’t want to pay taxes
- Single issue Second Amendment voters
- Lifelong Republicans whose identity is tied into party affiliation
- Frightened people. Most Americans agree with Democratic policies, so Republicans earn their votes with a steady dose of “scary stories and threats.”
- People who found community and acceptance at Trump rallies
- Cops and the descendants of cops who think Democrats are looking to destroy their livelihood and the family business
- Men who hate and fear women
- People who believe they are self-made and resent government as a whole
- Coal miners and oil workers who think Democrats will take away their jobs and leave them with nothing
- QAnon believers who think Trump is literally going to save the country from Democrat pedophiles and cannibals
- Previously unemployable folks (former felons, people without college degrees) who found decent jobs during the post-Obama recovery when unemployment plummeted, and can truly say their lives are better now than they were 4 years ago
- Folks who grew up making fun of women, LGBT folks, the disabled, people of color, and see the invitation to change as a personal attack
- Millions of people whose community watches, repeats, and reinforces the lies of Fox news Trump loyalists posing as journalists
- Millions of people whose social media feeds distort, decontextualize, hide, or simply lie about what my cohort sees as the horrors of this administration – from refugees to the uprisings to suppression of First Amendment rights to the failure to confront COVID-19 to sexual assault to sympathy with violent racists to dangerous deregulation to tax fraud to … I can’t even remember most of it, because it was constant and relentless. The impact of social media on the widening divide in this country probably cannot be overstated.
I know this is an incomplete list. I also know that this may not break down that wall of hate for any of you. I have a hard time with almost all of these groups myself. But I don’t believe that 70 million people in this country are evil or bad people (whatever that means). We are all at the mercy of our environment, and if our environment can change, then we can too.
Are any of these folks unreachable? Probably. Probably quite a few of them. Certainly unreachable by me, because I am not enlightened enough to speak to them all with the humanity I know is necessary to reach out to anyone. But if we give up on all of them, our species is pretty much doomed. As fatalistic as I am, I can’t surrender to that.
If you really want to understand why people voted for Trump, there is copious information out there. If you prefer to think of them all as stupid, rabid, racist (throw the first stone), xenophobic, anti-Semitic cultists, I can’t stop you. If you are a BIPOC person who isn’t interested in putting more energy into people who don’t recognize your humanity, I would never ask you to take responsibility for these folks. But to the privileged White liberals who make up most of my community: our self-righteousness and anger will not move the needle to the left in two years, or four years. And I would really like that needle to move. I don’t have answers; I’m currently trying to figure out how to throw my weight against it. But I don’t think shutting down is the answer, politically or spiritually.