First, hats off to Caitlin McGill, Vox, for having a “Scary, Awkward” conversation with her Dad about his vote for Trump.
Political discussion shouldn’t be scary or awkward, though.
But we have made it so. One reason it is is that both sides have overused identity politics for so long.
“Our side is good and great. The other side is bad. You don’t want to be bad, do you? Stick with us.”
I wanted to take the opportunity to address some of Caitlyn’s conversation. My responses below aren’t necessarily what I think, but what I imagine her Dad might think and just point out areas where I don’t believe what she says and he says are on the same spectrum of political speech.
Caitlyn: I voted for Clinton because she seemed to represent equality for women and people of color, but more so because she did not represent the Islamophobic, homophobic, sexist, and racist thinking that Trump does.
This is a great example of the ‘my side good, other side bad’ politics. It keeps you from having to do the harder work of actually thinking.
I Googled the things that caused people to think Trump is the names she calls him. There are articles dedicated to each of the names she calls him.
I didn’t find them convincing. This Huffington Post piece is the top result when you Google “why is Trump a racist”. Its author, Lydia Cooper, provides “13 examples” of his racism.
First, some of the examples seem to have nothing to do with racism, like the first example. Lydia doesn’t even attempt to connect it to racism and left me scratching my head right off the bat.
This piece by Scott Alexander sums up well how I feel after reading stuff like Cooper’s piece. It also provides counter evidence to one of Cooper’s examples, “He refused to condemn the white supremacists who are campaigning for him,” which shows that she has her facts wrong, but is willing to put her head in the sand about that. And, if she’s willing to do that for that example, her credibility for the rest of her writing is in question.
Not only that, but Cooper herself, just a few paragraphs later says that Trump did disavow them. What she didn’t include, and what Alexander covers, is that no white supremacists campaigned for him or even officially endorsed him. That meme is a fiction meant to paint a specific picture in your head.
Caitlyn and Lydia should both read up on the story about the Boy who cried wolf.
The other thought I had, that is different from Alexander’s, is that if those examples were considered reasonable proof of Trump’s racism, then anyone could be painted as a racist, or any of the other things they called Trump.
I believe the election results show that, for some people, those on the left have already cried wolf a bit too much. Now might be a good time to bone up on forming better arguments, instead of faking it.