They Didn’t Vote For Trump. They Voted Against Us
Growing up I went to a variety of elementary schools. We moved around and so I was cursed with being that new kid almost every year. The effects of this were plentiful and included a tendency to find the edges of acceptable behavior, the boundaries of what was considered appropriate, and poking through the natural hypocrisies of any institution to find the cracks in which to climb.
By the time I entered eighth grade in Benton, Kan., I was primed to be a complete pain in the ass. What I didn’t know was that I wasn’t going anywhere from that point until I graduated high school so those impulses to bend and break the rules of decorum and establish my own sense of autonomy within what I had grown accustomed to being fugacious would create impressions that I would no longer escape.
Being a bit of a book hound and more of a smart ass than a smart kid, I almost always encountered the bullies early in the school year. Benton Grade School was no different. When, in early September, after refusing to bow down to the rule of three of the Eighth Grade Ruling Class and subsequently getting the crap beat out of me in a field just within sight of the school, I found myself in the principal’s office, trying to explain that, while I certainly mouthed off to these thugs, I never threw a punch.
He looked over his desk, his meaty hands clasped together over his colossal gut, and grilled me. I was the new kid and he felt it was his duty to explain things to me the way one who keeps the peace by ignoring the realities of brigandage under his nose feels entitled to do. Because I was a cocky little fucker, I pointed out his role in the beating I had taken. I casually explained that these prison rapists in training existed because he upheld the system in which they thrived. And, as was my tendency when being yelled at, I was smirking a bit as I said it.
“Christ, Hall,” he intoned. “You are one smug piece of shit, aren’t you?”
That interaction started the year of him seeking me out for punishments as often as he could and, given my DNA as a rule-challenging little smarmy jackass, it was never hard to bust me for something. Often as not, I was deserving of some sort of sanction but it was the many times when I did not deserve the lumps that burned. The ember of unearned injustice grew hot and the result was an increase in my pretentious arrogance which, in turn, made things worse rather than better.
By the time I arrived at Circle High School in neighboring Towanda, Tom Restivo, the hulking, muscle-bound Italian vice principal already knew me from reputation alone. And he was going to have none of it. I decided to see how far I could go and, that fall at lunch, I grabbed a semi-clear plastic glass from the cafeteria, went into the boy’s restroom and fished out an unflushed turd from one of the toilets. I waited until class was changing and slipped into his office and left it on his desk and, like an early Jason Bourne, disappeared unseen.
Twenty minutes later, I heard his voice over the intercom in the freshmen English class I had just barely made it to. “Mr. Warren? Is a student named Don Hall in your class? If so, please give him a pass and send him to my office immediately.”
I shuffled into his office and he sat there, reading something, the glass with the butt nugget still sitting exactly where I left it.
“Sit down, Hall.”
“Hall, what’s that on my desk?”
I couldn’t help the huge grin that split my face. “Looks like shit to me, sir.”
“You know I’m going to suspend you for this, right?”
I didn’t know how he caught me but caught I was so I just nodded as I giggled.
When I came back to school a few days later after my suspension, he called me back into his office.
“Hall, I’m going to give you some advice. You can take it or leave it, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m giving it to you because you didn’t do what every other kid would’ve done when I nailed you for the glass of shit. You didn’t try to weasel out of it. You knew you were beaten and accepted your punishment without question or excuse. I like that in a young man so I’m here to suggest something that may help you in your four years here.”
“So you’re giving me guidance because I was a non-conformist and accepted my suspension without complaint? Jeesh, I feel so privileged.”
He smiled a joyless smile. “Yeah, that’s your problem. That was your problem at Benton. You’re a smug little fucker. You’re smart and you know it and a lot of teachers around here are going to learn to hate your guts because of it. Four years is a long time, kid. I think you’ll be the kind of student who always challenges the rules but you will lose those fights a lot, even when you’re right, because no one wants a smart ass to win. I’ve seen it happen every year. Dial it down and you might survive high school. Or don’t, and we’ll see if high school survives you.”
Liberals dominate the entertainment industry, many of the most influential news sources and America’s universities. This means that people with progressive leanings are everywhere in the public eye — and are also on the college campuses attended by many people’s children or grandkids. These platforms come with a lot of power to express values, confer credibility and celebrity and start national conversations that others really can’t ignore.
But this makes liberals feel more powerful than they are. Or, more accurately, this kind of power is double-edged. Liberals often don’t realize how provocative or inflammatory they can be. In exercising their power, they regularly not only persuade and attract but also annoy and repel.
In fact, liberals may be more effective at causing resentment than in getting people to come their way. I’m not talking about the possibility that jokes at the 2011 correspondents’ association dinner may have pushed Mr. Trump to run for president to begin with. I mean that the “army of comedy” that Michael Moore thought would bring Mr. Trump down will instead be what builds him up in the minds of millions of voters.
Just the other day I bet my nephew $50 that Trump will not only not be impeached but will be our president past 2020. Not because anyone on the entire planet thinks realistically that he is anything but a political moron and overwhelming dickcheese but because there are more people who despise the smugness of the Holier Than Thou Army of Identity Fetishists who think nothing of branding anyone and everyone not in lockstep with their political ideology as racists, nazis or monsters, and self-righteously adopting the Faux Moral Authority of the republicans who impeached Bill Clinton for getting his knob polished in the Oval.
There is an argument to be made that few voted for Trump but many voted against us. How could 53 percent of white women voters vote for the pussy grabber? The easy answer is that they are racist. With the 50 or so recent examples of white women calling the police on black people doing nothing more than existing, that makes sense except for the fact that those viral videos of Starbucks racists are not statistically significant enough to brand millions of people so reductively. It is just as likely to suggest that an unreasoning hatred of the strident self-satisfied intellectual class of liberal, constantly lecturing from a claimed moral high ground, was their unspoken rationale.
Identity Fetishist Ricardo Gamboa wrote in May on his Faceborg:
“As radical activists we imagine ourselves as delegates, or representatives or a voice of our people. But the reality is we’re anomalies or minorities amongst our people. Most brown people who aspire to wealth and institutional wealth, are pro-police and prison, think gentrification improves the neighborhood, etc. I think it’s probably more accurate for those of us that identify ourselves as radical activists to maybe consider that our biggest problem throughout time is that we don’t have a people. We’re always in the work of forging radical people.”
I think that sentiment should be expanded to the totality of the self-proclaimed Progressive Wing of American politics. “Forging radical people” by throwing out labels and minimizing whole groups of people by skin color or complex choices is what got us here with the most accurate representation of the social media name calling reductionist eighth grader we could find sitting on a hemorrhoid ring with a fat finger poised over a Twitter account behind the Resolute desk. He sits there, in no small measure, because the rest of the country hates us more than they despise him.
I say “us” as if I am part of the extreme left, the hardcore faction of self-righteous idiots who believe that identity politics is anything but the Politics of Narcissism. When I say “us” I mean to say that I didn’t take Restivo’s advice in high school.
I stayed smug. More so, I doubled down on it.
I occasionally go back and read my strident name calling rhetoric during the Bush Jr. years and can hear the voice of a Lydia Lucio, a Ricardo Gamboa, or a younger Donald Trump within the arrogant, pompous asshattery of self-righteous rage. I then observe in hindsight the unreasoning obstacles forced in front of Obama and wonder how much of that Mitch McConnell driven resistance had to do with a simple disgust with us.
Like me in high school, we aren’t learning that that smugness doesn’t win elections it merely makes us feel warm and fuzzy as if our ineffectual resistance will be noted by future historians as somehow significant when figuring out how to persuade those out in the world of real, flesh and bone humans separate from the avatars of the digital world that perhaps we might be able to work together for the better of everyone.
I really hope I lose that $50 to my nephew but I’m not counting on it.