I have been paying attention to GRP since before the BSA3 administration. It was here that I began to truly understand what drove Filipino culture – as well as how it derived from the showbiz culture inherited from the Americans. It was highly understandable to me why Filipinos would swarm to Duterte in droves.
Like virtually everyone on the left here in America I was shocked when someone who pandered to racists and ultra-religious fanatics pulled another George W. Bush and won control of Congress and the Executive Branch.
I turned to GRP again for answers, and in that characteristic caustic wisdom I’ve enjoyed, it all made sense.
The thinking that created “the Trump problem” is the real problem that needs to be solved here. – benign0
I had to be sure, of course. While it was a sentiment that was surprisingly starting to be echoed across “traditional” media sources, I needed to know more from the people who voted.
Immediately following Trump’s victory I partook in a discussion with some of his supporters (and having lurked on shady anonymous imageboards for the better part of a decade, I know quite a few). Some had been Trump supporters from the beginning, but some were “swung.” They confided to me that Bernie Sanders – that other anti-establishment candidate – could have given Trump much more of a run for their money in several battleground states.
It sounds incredulous at first. Why would a Socialist Jew stand a chance in neo-Nazi heartlands?
I realized during that discussion that asking that sort of question, in fact, is exactly part of the problem.
If you look at the electoral college state maps from 2008 and 2016, many of these battleground swing states were won by Obama – particularly Florida and the Rust Belt where the economic situation hasn’t been close to the American Dream for decades.
Now, calling out the left for their mistakes has already been done ad nauseum. It’s time to find the real solutions to this kind of thinking.
These aren’t all neo-Nazi skinheads, white trust fund babies and Klansmen. Many of them are more than likely the same people who were tired of the exact same Establishment that precipitated the Great Recession. These people did not believe their economic status had been righted in the 8 years since, and they needed hope that the ostensibly left-wing party could not provide.
So how do we as progressives change our thinking to make inroads with these people? It’s not something I can answer in one article – if I know the real answer at all. Instead, let me start the process with the story of Daryl Davis.
Davis is a blues musician who has performed with such luminaries as Chuck Berry and Bruce Hornsby. He is also famous for something else: he is an African-American who actively goes out of his way to befriend Ku Klux Klan members.
The story goes that while playing at a white bar, a patron came up to him and told him he’d never seen a black man play as good as Jerry Lee Lewis. Davis replied reasonably that Jerry Lee Lewis was a friend and that these white legends were heavily influenced by black musical pioneers as well.
He continued to meet with that Klansman and others, finding out why they believed the things they do, and then calmly and rationally helped them understand where their beliefs came from. Long story short, Davis convinced him and others to leave the Klan, and they even gave him their old hoods and robes.
Some of them remained untrustworthy that a black man would even try to befriend them, of course. But that didn’t stop him from trying.
Daryl Davis dedicated himself to knowing what makes these so-called racists tick. Where their beliefs came from, and why they chose to act the way they did. He was able to understand, and help them understand – all at very clear risk to his own life.
During the primaries Bernie Sanders, despite being part of the Democratic Party (and eventually caving into them), made that effort to reach out to voters in swing states and identify with them. When Sanders got canned, that left a wide open gap for people looking for that candidate to stick up for them against The Establishment. Trump swooping in and raking in enough of these voters was sound marketing in retrospect.
Angry protests in deep blue areas might be good for getting rid of stress, but that won’t change the past or stay out of copyright trouble.
We won’t all be negotiating with the Klan or Aryan Nation. But it is still important for progressives now to step off their ivory tower and get our hands dirty to truly realize where these grievances are coming from and how old-time prejudices capitalize on it.
After all, progressivism has its beliefs rooted in knowing what the working class want, regardless of their creed or color. The current hipster generation of coastal elites have utterly failed that ideal, and with a meager two years to mid-terms, it’s down to us in the trenches to rise above the stereotypes we created and make that change.
“When two enemies are talking, they aren’t fighting.” – Daryl Davis