ight off the bat, I’m going to tell you there’s a very good chance you’re not going to like hearing this. You could get irritated enough to stop reading. But I hope you don’t. Not because your anger is unjustified, but because what I’m proposing, I believe, is necessary to disable Trump. And that’s the whole point here, isn’t it?
What I’m urging you--will all due respect--is to lose your identity.
By that, I mean your identity politics--how you consider yourself aggrieved in terms of gender, age, race, religion, immigration status or sexual orientation. Yes, your complaint may be absolutely justified. Your wounds may be real. And certainly, the push for equal rights should march forward.
But not right now.
That’s because the flag of personal rights that you fly, intentionally or not, is one that separates and alienates you from many middle-of-the-road, middle income white voters who feel their rights are being trampled in the process. Really, they do. In their minds, they are suffering as much as you are, but you’re the ones whining about it and holding them back. Is that possibly true? It doesn’t matter. You can’t disprove someone’s feelings. People feel alienated for all sorts of reasons, and as long as those reasons freely bubble in the psyches of white, non-college educated voters, this president and his party remain their saviors.
This evil brilliance of the Trump dystopia is that it consistently steals resources from the “the lower 90%”--but blames it all on someone else. These voters accurately recognize declining real wages, disappearing benefits, ever-more-expensive health care, and diminishing prospects for their kids and grandkids to get into college…or at least to leave it without staggering debt. But if you point a finger of blame at the one known as Cheeto Jesus, you know his response: “Who, me?” His deflection always goes to the same places—rapacious foreign traders, marauding armies of immigrants, malicious journalists, and, of course, the Democrats—particularly “Obama” and “Hillary”.
he issues facing Trump supporters are real, pressing, and quite frankly an embarrassment in a nation as rich as ours. And thus, it’s no surprise that these are the same things foremost on the minds when they vote. Why wouldn’t they be? Remember that income inequality was the issue that most animated both Trump and Bernie supporters. (Bernie was the second choice for President among those that voted for Trump.)
The point is this: to them, the demand for safe spaces and transgender bathrooms and #MeToo takedowns is getting in their way. Of course white cops should stop killing black citizens for no reason. Of course Mitch McConnell's new legislative rape of Lady Liberty is an outrage...but when questioning that nomination morphs into the preeminently divisive argument over abortion, the conservatives have won. Talking more about controversial individual rights is counterproductive for the next few months, since it’s sucking attention away from things that most Americans actually agree on.
But what about the fact that yours are actual, authentic grievances?
They. Don’t. Care.
As I said, it’s purely dystopian. This isn’t the Hunger Games—it’s the Hunger for Attention Games. And to everyone—on both sides—it only feels like losing.
At this writing, we are just one state short of passing the Equal Rights Amendment—an entirely palatable and peaceful (and maybe just symbolic) movement that’s been brewing since the 1970’s. It’s about women—and it’s about time. But think about how long it’s taken. As the rap lyric from Cypress Hill says, “everybody wants a bite. Don’t happen overnight.”
If we truly want things to get better, we need to put down the megaphone and call a temporary hiatus on identity politics. Stick your personal grievances in your pocket and focus for the time being on the issues that matter to all voters.
Bill Clinton once said,
“I believe that in ways large and small, peaceful and sometimes violent, that the biggest threat to the future of our children and grandchildren is the poison of identity politics that preaches that our differences are far more important than our common humanity.”
Democrats, now is the time to run on common humanity. Think about what binds us, not what breaks those ties. Please judge if what you're yelling for now will cause people to vote against us in November. Because if progressives don’t win back at least one house of Congress, your personal grievances are just going to burn right through your pocket and into your hide for at least another couple of years. Those will be two years when things will go even more disastrously backward. We ain't seen nothin' yet.
So, I implore you—this year, it’s all about the election.
Which means, for the time being...tt’s not about you.
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