So wow! Surprising and saddening few days! But for those on Trump's shitlist (black people, Muslims, Latinxs, LGBTQ, etc), not so surprising, mostly just the other thing. So why were we, all us incredibly intelligent, poll obsessed liberal white allies, so so SURPRISED?
Well because we, my pretty privileged family, are some comfort inclined motherf*ckers. Our aunts supported Trump, so we unfriended them. Our step-dads supported Trump, so we just didn't bring it up. Our grampas supported Trump, so we yelled at them. We built walls, y'all. We built beautiful YUGE walls around us. Because we were scared. And embarrassed. And we said, "Not MY aunt. Not MY peepaw. Not ALL white people.” But yeah. Us. We did this. Why?
FEAR. EMBARRASSMENT. These are the things that got Trump elected. We wrote our suburb-inclined loved ones off as monsters! We forgot what Yoda taught us, which is weird, cause we love those damn movies. HOW TO MAKE A SITH: Fear to anger. Anger to hate. Hate to suffering. Our white friends and families were so forgotten and afraid that they voted against their own self-interest. White women showed up hard for Trump, despite his propensity for pussy grabbin'. Old white men showed up hard for Trump, despite their manufacturing jobs being dead as dodos. Young white men showed up for Trump... well, to feel something, and to make the world like their Fallout games. And also the fear thing.
But us Hillary voters were afraid too! Afraid of Trump. Afraid for our non-white friends. Afraid of our blood and the more regrettable sides of our ancestry. Fear led both votes. So why were we successfully wrangled by the Clinton campaign, and were THEY so very unwrangled?
ELITISM. WALLS. ROGER SHITBIRD AILES. MARK FUCKERBERG. Here's a sneak peek into me: I was in a group for three and a half years that I casually refer to as a cult. The exact same tactics that we used, that I used, to keep people in the group, are used by both parties. But they are used SPECTACULARLY and THOROUGHLY by Fox News and the Facebook algorithm. Let no new information in. Spread misinformation if it means building your version of a brighter future. Research nothing. Get people mad, and then settle them down with ribbons. Promise DESTRUCTION to wandering minds. Tell your members you love them while you call the other team names.
So our cult and theirs, well, it feels like we’re speaking a different language. Our world of privilege is gender neutral zine relases and unitarian weddings and theirs is truck nuts, Big Bang Theory, and y’all… quiet. Slow waiters. Chain emails. When the TV isn't on, it is QUIET out there in the boondocks. I think that's part of the hate on protests, they're just like, "Who would wanna be so loud?"
But the thing is, it's not a different language. These aren’t legitimate wedges. And these aren't aliens, these are our people. My dad has been pissing me off all election year because he keeps insisting that the sides have to work together, and i'm all, “Dad! Their waterhole is poisoned! Do you understand that before the left can talk to the right about the economy, we have to get past Obama being a secret muslim, black people should just be nice to cops, and boy, it's funny to do a racist voice at the hibachi place?" and he'd just shrug. But I was assuming that all the hate, all those people I have direct contact to, didn't vote. That there was no reason to go through *gasp* slight discomfort to find our common ground, and maybe appeal to them in a way that my candidate refused to. But now we know, that those people we were so comfortable writing off as “deplorables” VOTE y'all. That pure fear can lead a MOVEMENT. You're talking about the 45-64 range too, and they're not dying soon. We can't "lost cause" these humans beings. We can't just hand them over to Fox News and Breitbart and Info Wars for forty years, not if we care about them, and not if we want to avoid an election like this again.
But in order to get back to the type of discourse my dad remembers will take PATIENCE. And COMPASSION. And if you want a lesson in this, look to the people of color who took the time to educate your dumb pasty ass and mine. Look to your first gay friend who let you get all the backwards shit outta your system so that you could be a straight ally today. These folks are patient every single day. Even when they're talking about dragging our ignorant brothers and sisters, you know in person they'll stop and educate. Or maybe they won't, but christ, they really shouldn't have to! Not when we gave up on it long ago because we were too “awkwarrrd”. We're counting on these communities that we pretend to support to educate OUR people. Or we're counting on our families, the ones who made us as strong as we are today, to be totally fine with alienation and mockery. Yeah right! And we're taking the concept of self-healing (which started as a way for oppressed groups to take time for themselves in the midst of having to deal with constant, widespread ignorance) and using it as an excuse to take vacations in the wake of election day. Vacations from what? This country is our cushy resort, only now has a gauche, gold TRUMP sign on the entrance. We can use the cushion of our white privilege to stomach a few hard conversations, promise.
So consider giving that vaycay budget to your black and brown friends, cause thanks to the white left’s all out dismissal of the drawlier sect, America just got much harder for the oppressed among us. It was already hard to be not us in this country, but now the most hateful and vocal of the other team achieved representation in the highest possible office. Still, we know the lion's share of the nearly sixty million Trump voters are not actively, violently racist. Not at their core. Not if you take them off the IV drip of Rush Limbaugh and whispered work jokes. Not if you bother to hear them out. The majority just want their factory jobs back, and they have a TV on all day long, telling them that they can have them. Our candidate called them deplorables and so did we. We looked down on them, didn’t bother to listen to their pain. Even when our white Trump supporter friends spoke out against his most disgusting comments, “ends justify the means” type of stuff, the type of stuff we all had to do to vote in this election, we’d call them racists and bigots and push them further into alienation. They're terrified of a changing landscape, so they bought a hat that said, "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” because it gave them hope. We made hats to make fun of their hats, and our candidate made no effort to give them anything resembling that hope. It doesn't matter if they were being sold a fake future, someone bothered to sell them something! To talk to them!
All this to say, white people, my people: we have to try harder. We don't get to have the bright and shining Star Trekkian future without Picarding some of these folks. It is not our black brothers and sisters jobs to get our high school friends to try and empathize with them. It is not our Muslim and Latinx friends’ responsibility to help break our mom’s cycle of paranoia. It is not on your LGBTQ family to field your second cousin’s stupid questions. So pour an Earl Grey, hot. Friend those people you unfriended. Hug your grampa again and fucking mean it. He has been terrified for the last eight years. He saw CARS become a thing, and if you were to show him the movie CARS, he'd probably be like, "HOW DID THEY DO THIS, WHERE ARE THE STRINGS?" Also, and this next part is important: you do not have to talk about politics with them. You can just tell them about all the things you have going on, cause they keep asking how you’ve been and just say fine. Maybe tell them about your gender neutral zine release! Force yourself to explain it in terms they understand. You will learn, they will learn, and then they will be less terrified when a candidate down the line talks about non-binary rights.
Just remember: people have to believe they are good. Similarly, you have to believe that the people you reach out to, at their core, are good. If you want to change someone’s mind, and you look them in the eye, and call them awful, and call them small minded, and call them anything but a good word, you will lose them. Challenge people, of course, but support them, definitely. If they lash out, that’s fine. We should attempt to weather some of the storm that our oppressed friends get day in and day out. It will be uncomfortable. It will be aggravating. But stay calm. Stay quiet. Remember the farmer’s market baguette you have at home, with the amish butter. Sip your tea. And communicate.
And if you have family members that are just too toxic, I get it. Some people just truly suck. And are mean. But the majority of Trump votin’ caucasians are not. They are simply not being reached out to. So reach out. That's what we used to do in the group, and you'd be surprised how powerful the words "I love you" can be.
Travis Broyles is a white dude. He once put on Raekwon at a party and everybody left. He is also a copywriter for hire, and was famous on the internet once. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or buy his dinosaur erotica zine for your Kindle here: http://bit.ly/raunchosaurus