The question Democrats are struggling with in our new, surreal President (pussy-grabber-in-chief) Trump world comes down to, in its simplest form, should we (1) despise the Trump voters or (2) feel empathy for them?
It is not merely a political question; it also has moral and practical implications. Should we do what Jesus would do, forgive them because they know not what they do, and try to bring them back into the fold? Or should we see them as racist, misogynist, mean-spirited idiots who may just get us all killed? Or are they just unemployed, disaffected, otherwise decent, ordinary people who through no fault of their own have been brainwashed by the vast right-wing propaganda machine? All of the above? How do we solve this? Perhaps some of us have already decided for ourselves; others may still be working it out. Maybe we don’t all have to do the same thing.
There are plenty of articles and books already out there on the subject. Here are some thoughts by Frank Rich in an article for Sunday’s NYMagazine, No Sympathy for the Hillbilly: Democrats need to stop trying to feel everyone’s pain, and hold on to their own anger.
I’ve chosen a few excerpts. You can read the entire article here.
No Sympathy for the Hillbilly
by Frank Rich
It is a fool’s errand for Democrats to fudge or abandon their own values to cater to the white-identity politics of the hard-core, often self-sabotaging Trump voters who helped drive the country into a ditch on Election Day. They will stick with him even though the numbers say that they will take a bigger financial hit than Clinton voters under the Republican health-care plan. As Trump himself has said, in a rare instance of accuracy, they won’t waver even if he stands in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoots somebody. While you can’t blame our new president for loving ‘the poorly educated’ who gave him that blank check, the rest of us are entitled to abstain. If we are free to loathe Trump, we are free to loathe his most loyal voters, who have put the rest of us at risk.
Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild, in her election-year best seller, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, was inspired by Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter With Kansas? She wanted “to scale the empathy wall” and “unlock the door to the Great Paradox” of why working-class voters cast ballots for politicians actively opposed to their interests…
In “What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class,” a postelection postmortem published to much op-ed attention by the Harvard Business Review, the University of California law professor Joan C. Williams proposes that other liberals do in essence what Hochschild did…
“The best advice I’ve seen so far for Democrats is the recommendation that hipsters move to Iowa,” Williams writes — or to any other location in the American plains where “shockingly high numbers of working-class men are unemployed or on disability, fueling a wave of despair deaths in the form of the opioid epidemic.”
She further urges liberals to discard “the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite” that leads them to condescend to disaffected working-class whites and “write off blue-collar resentment as racism…”
Read the entire article at nymag.com