I’ve seen a lot of people commenting online that “milquetoast” liberals like me need to grow a spine and stop trying to be nice to people with different political views, like Trump supporters and Brexiteers, because they are EVIL RACIST SEXIST MONSTERS and we shouldn’t in any way try to engage with these people.
This post is to those people who think we can go on divided while (IMO) the political, corporate and media elite continually tear down living conditions for everyone not part of their small group. This rant was inspired by a comment I saw online where a so called progressives hurled only non-productive insults at Trump voters and those who were willing to listen to them (because if you don’t agree with me you must be evil). I feel a tiny bit hypocritical telling someone they need to listen more, speak less, and act courteously towards people with what turned into a very long and and self-indulgent rant. After writing it I realised I was insufferable and decided not to direct this at some poor frustrated democrat who just felt the need to rant, so it is going here instead, my safe space for self indulgence. Gods… maybe I am a milquetoast?
We need to realise that people who voted for Trump 100% percent believe it was the best thing for their future, and you need to listen to them to understand why.
I know how all you left leaning yanks feel, I really do. I’m a Brexit survivor after all. The night of the EU referendum I started out pretty hopeful planning to stay up and watch the remain vote come in, but that never happened. I was angry for a very long time, and heartbroken, the world has pretty much felt like it is ending ever since. There was a big divide in my extended family over the issue and after talking to them extensively and politely (with some good natured jokes on both sides) I’ve decided they are angry about the exact same things I am, but they just blame the injustices they face in day to day life on something different. I completely disagree with where they lay the blame for the mess that is UK living standards at the moment, but at least I can empathise with the situation they find themselves in, because life in the UK, especially in rural parts of Northern England and Wales is pretty bleak and has been for a while now. We still disagree about the EU, but that’s a complicated matter. We listened to each other without making the other person out to be a monster and now discussing other issues is easier because none of us are putting up a defensive wall. We don’t feel judged for expressing our viewpoints so we’re far more likely to share and learn from each other.
The majority of Trump voters and supporters are not your enemy. Like Westminster your whole political establishment is rotten, not to mention the mainstream media. The first example of this rottenness that comes to my mind (many others think differently about this) is the labour coup. The UKs Labour party has elected a leader who is not part of the traditional elite, a life long back-bencher with slightly socialist views. He’s running an anti-austerity platform and actually offers something different from the policies of the two major parties in the last two decades. Over here, he is sort of considered our version of Trump, but left leaning. Almost all mainstream media sources, and even his own members of parliament are against him. Many people think he is crazy, some think he is very dangerous. I’m not saying he doesn’t have major flaws, but he wouldn’t stand a chance even if he was the second coming of Jesus! For example his own shadow cabinet pulled a coup (THE DAY AFTER WE VOTED TO LEAVE THE EU!!!) on a flimsy pretence because getting rid of him was more important to them than grabbing (by the pussy ;p) the opportunity to show a united and competent front in the one week window of the Tory party going into meltdown. It was an absurd way for an opposition party to act and proved to me once and for all that the current system of parliament here is rotten to the core across all parties. They don’t work for me, it’s just a game to them, a career. Here is your enemy, a neo-liberal political class that would rather give the other side a huge political advantage than let in anyone who is threat to the status quo and their comfortable lives.
Trump voters live in different places to you, they have different friends, they consume different news and books and films. They have different Facebook feeds and have lived different experiences. They face different problems. One of the first things the left taught me was that I needed to check my privilege, shut the fuck up and listen to people when they are talking to me about things they have experienced that I have not and will never experience. I think it’s a good rule to live by generally, a good rule to apply to everyone, at all times, because we walk in different worlds and we will never understand each other if we just keep shouting insults over the fence and shoving fingers in our ears singing “lalalalala I am right you are wrong lalalalala.”
Currently we are divided and conquered and that is what the people in power want. None of us can say we know objectively what is real anymore, we live in bubbles and I personally have very few sources of information I trust. If we want to get even close to some sort of truth we need to open ourselves up to other points of view. Listening to someone’s experiences does not mean you have to agree with them, but maybe it will help you understand why that person voted the way they did and you can start seeing them as human again instead of an evil other out to oppress you. Find some common ground. I promise you, if you listen to each other long enough you will find it.
Wow. What a diatribe! These thoughts have been rattling in my head for a while now and I am glad to have expressed them somewhere, but good god is that preachy reading it back. I even start to sound a little bit like a conspiracy theorist towards the end there! So I feel a disclaimer is needed. This blog is called “This Is What I Know” not “This Is What I Know & It Is Objectively True.”