Double Down Or Learn From Defeat and Change Tactics: What Did We Learn?

In 2008, just after Obama won the presidency, the Republican Party higher ups convened to discuss how to avoid having that defeat happen again.  They were dealing with the zealotry of the Tea Party (whom they invited to the Party but had no idea how strident they would be) and concluded that, in order for the GOP to grow and thrive, they needed to change their message to include women and PoC.

That lasted about 14 seconds before they collectively doubled down on their existing message of social conservatism, anti-science, anti-regulation, anti-immigration, Trickle Down economic rhetoric.  They didn't anticipate President Donald Trump but they set the stage so effectively as to make him inevitable.

They completely missed the point.

The easy thing to do is to point our Progressive fingers toward the 60 million or so voters who voted for Trump, call them racist, sexist xenophobes and double down on the public shaming, categorical name calling, smug lecturing, heightened rhetoric that we have engaged in since George W. Bush ascended to our Oligarchical Throne.

And completely miss the point.

We lost this election.  The Progressive Liberal message is one of tolerance, inclusion, and fairness and we communicate this egalitarian message using intolerance, exclusion, and aggressive, rage-filled exasperation.  What did we actually think was going to happen?

The irony of people railing against micro-aggressions and unfair labeling spending bandwidth lecturing millions on their "white fragility" and "white tears," calling millions of Americans in Nebraska and Kansas and Wisconsin racists and sexists and xenophobes and expecting that these millions wouldn't eventually fight back is astounding.

Imagine for a moment a white man living in Indiana.  He is a blue collar worker.  He does not have a college degree.  He encounters so few PoC in his day to day as only see them in the abstract, gleaned mostly from the news reports from cities he hasn't been to and popular culture.  Imagine him being told over and over that he is a racist.  Is it any surprise that eventually he becomes defensive, angry, and finds his opportunity to vote for a man so obviously racist but who says that the man in Indiana shouldn't have to be on the defensive?

Someone makes a poorly thought out joke online that is blatantly sexist.  The online response is suddenly overwhelming.  He is called out.  He is labeled "a human piece of garbage."  He is labeled a "sexist piece of shit."  Calls for him to be shunned and fired from his job and effectively destroyed pile up in a matter of hours.  Is it any surprise that he fights back?  Is it any surprise that he starts to see those pillorying him as the enemy?

The question at hand is not "How do we educate these troglodytes and make them see the sparkles of Progressive Enlightenment?" but "What is our goal here and what can we do to achieve it?"  If our goal is to simply shame those we can't see eye to eye with, as we have seen in this almost cartoonish election, we will ultimately fail in our own arrogance and demands for fealty to our perspective.  If anything, we can see in plain sight that shaming people into silence does not eliminate the thoughts behind the offense, just the outward show of them.

A democracy (at its best) is a marketplace of ideas.  It is our responsibility to effectively communicate our ideas to the broadest possible clientele rather than lecture the other half of the country and rage at them.  This "Shut Up and Listen to Me, You Ignorant Savages" approach, like Trickle Down Economics, DOES NOT WORK.

So, yes.  For right now, allow ourselves to be fucking furious.  Process the hurt feelings and bizarre despondency of not only losing the fight but losing to a man we all agree is a caricature of everything we stand against.

At some point, however, we will decide if we really want to create a place of tolerance, inclusion, and fairness or simply destroy those who offend our sensibilities.