It sucks because at a time when we should be questioning the whole path that the “liberal” party has taken, one cannot really argue that the choice this time is really that stark. However, it is the neoliberal status-quo and our inability, or rather refusal, to offer a real solution to the suffering middle class that is fueling the fire that is Trump.
Trump is what happens when the country turns in on itself, or rather is manipulated to. However part of that blame is that we liberals haven’t been offering a viable alternative. While we have been focusing on the, yes, genuinely important issues around racism, prejudice, sexism, environment — we’ve largely held the line and followed suit when it comes to the police state, war, and, most importantly, economic policies.
We passed NAFTA and our president, if not president to be, supported TPP. We facilitated trading millions of middle class union jobs for the false dream of replacing them with cheap goods and upper class “technology” jobs, as if miraculously everyone could become a Mark Zuckerberg with a little training (or that everyone could simultaneously be Mark Zuckerberg at all).
We were the ones that repealed Glass-Steagall that nuked the financial system, leaving what is still for most the “great recession”. Our president turned the other way to all the crimes involved, choosing to look forward instead of back, while offering nary a crumb to the suffering victims of those same crimes — the lower and middle classes.
And even now we’re ready to claim that things are better than they really are, because the alternative doesn’t support the narrative that Democrats have made it better and that Hillary provides continuity to those gains. Meanwhile we ignore the fact that yes, while on paper the numbers show better, and for those of us in the elite, intelligentsia, and credentialed classes things are better, but for the vast majority of the un-hip, NPR rejecting, masses, things suck and Trump seems like he couldn’t make it worse.
We’ve been so above the very people we claim to care most about, that we are unable to see that while yes they have made an ugly turn, they aren’t bad people, and they wouldn’t be turning ugly if they weren’t desperate and we had offered them a real economic alternative prior to it getting this bad. Worse — doubled down this very election on that status quo.
To top this off, we’ve labelled them “racists”, “homophobes”, “sexists”, and “neanderthals”, not seeing the irony that our labels and stereotypes are just as toxic as theirs. We forget that people don’t change their opinions and mores on a dime. Our social agenda is the right agenda, but we demand immediate and complete ideological purity, ignoring that it takes time for people to adjust. Just as we are unlikely to “see the light” and turn to Jesus tomorrow, they who in most cases were raised in different circumstances, aren’t going to turn to suddenly embrace every aspect of our social agenda. Instead we tell good but misguided people they are bad and oddly enough instead of embracing us, they turn more strongly away than ever. At least Trump isn’t telling them they are neanderthals for not being instantly comfortable with the raging, albeit absolutely positive, social revolution going on around them.
Meanwhile we ask, “How could it have turned so bad?” while refusing to look in the mirror and realize as in any dysfunctional relationship, we are part of the damn problem.