Am I? Part of the problem, I mean? I kind of am, I guess. See, I met a Trump voter in the wild today. It didn’t go too well.
See, for almost as long as I’ve been online (which is almost as long as the internet has been around, because I’m old) (ish), I’ve been part of a group that discusses the Lord Peter Wimsey novels. The group used to live on Yahoo, but then had to migrate to Io or whatever they are, and it’s had its ups and downs. I’ve never gotten around to participating much, having not much of value to contribute to the discussions, but I’ve enjoyed dipping into the conversations about the books.
But then over the weekend apparently the discussion led to observations about how “We all tend to accept whatever is going on around us as somehow ‘normal'”, in the context of not really looking past the trains running on time in Nazi Germany. Another person – one whose comments I’ve found abrasive and off-putting – finally said something I agreed with: “And unfortunately it continues today in American society with MAGA.” And he got jumped on for making a political comment.
As I mentioned, I don’t much like this person, but there are some buttons which, when pushed, I can’t ignore, and I made my first comment in months to support him. It did not go well, and I decided that now was a good time to unsubscribe from the group. I mean, I get it. Sort of. I get wanting to have one place on the internet that’s free of political commentary of any kind. But at a certain point the politics become a big, huge, neon pink, sequin-tutued elephant pirouetting in the corner of the room, and not addressing it just seems … dumb. I didn’t like the way the situation was handled; I have had nothing to contribute in a long time; and let’s face it – this is the eleventy-first time the books have been discussed. The well isn’t dry, but the bucket is getting a little old. (That is probably my worst metaphor ever, and I’m leaving it.) (I did NOT flounce. I just left.)
A while later, I got an email from the technical owner of the group. It was a very nice email; actually, it’s sort of the sort of email you secretly hope to get when you quit something online – she said something nice about the small amount I did contribute once upon a time, and invited me back.
But then she said this.
“Just to be clear: I voted for Trump twice, once against Hilary, and once against Biden, but would have greatly preferred to be able to vote for a better candidate. I still think that Trump was far better for the country than Hilary would have been, but I recognize that many, many people disagree with me on that. As they should. However, I am not a racist, not a sexist, not a bigot, and I think long and hard about my positions. Vast swathes of my husband’s family were killed or left stateless by the evil of the German fascists and the Russian anti-semites. So, painting all “MAGA” supporters as evil is bound to rub me the wrong way.”
Now, maybe I should have opened a dialogue with this person. I’ve been lucky; I’ve been sworn at (by my cousin’s husband), and gotten blindly pro-Trump messages from a few people, but it’s been rare. I generally tend to hang out in groups which are avowedly anti-Trump, because life is short and I know nothing I say is going to change any rabid MAGA fool’s mind. So, having this person in front of me, so to speak, with the common factor of the Lord Peter books between us, maybe I should have looked for answers to the questions I’ve had for over four years: WHY? HOW? I understand not agreeing with someone’s policies. I wouldn’t have chosen Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate in 2016, nor Joe Biden in 2020, but once they became the only viable alternatives to Trump, my votes for them were locked in. Granted, I would have voted for Gef the Talking Mongoose if he had been the best alternative. Because Trump is not a good human being. But – okay. Let’s say I … Nope. Nope nope nope. I was going to bring up the hypothetical that I ever voted … the other way … and I can’t even write it. Because we knew what he was in November of 2016. He’d shown his colors, in HD. And when the 2020 election finally rolled around, it was even clearer. He sold off Federally reserved land to developers. He worked very hard to initiate drilling for oil in hitherto pristine wildlife preserves in Alaska. He rolled back regulations to make sure our air, water, and land is less safe. He tried to build his ridiculous wall, and largely failed. If there has been a racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, rapacious, or otherwise inhumane move to make, he has, with clockwork predictability, made it. If he has had the choice of saying something civil and adult, he has – again, very reliably and predictably – chosen instead to be rude, crude, childish, racist, homophobic, xenophobic … whatever he could squeeze in. Every time. Every. Time. All the way up to now, when he is petulantly refusing to end his shameful term with any kind of grace, but instead is sulking, raging at the few people he still has around him, and ignoring every single tradition of the orderly transfer of power. No concession call. No congratulations. No attendance at his successor’s Inauguration – for the first time in 150 years. No note left in the Oval Office desk. (I hope he doesn’t write one, at this point.) Instead, he wants a red carpet and a full military send off (careful of those bone spurs getting on Air Force One for the last time, sir!) hours before Biden is sworn in, so he doesn’t even have to watch it. Then he’s on his way down to Florida, where he can take out his pique tearing out whatever renovations Melania has made which he doesn’t like.
So … while I had someone apparently clever enough to appreciate the Lord Peter books, whose husband’s family was decimated by fascists, who nevertheless voted for … that creature – that fascist creature – maybe I should have tried to – what’s the awful corporate phrase? Open a dialogue? I mean, if we don’t start talking to each other in some kind of intelligent fashion, if no one starts building bridges and all those other metaphors, et cetera et cetera…
Nah. It’s too soon. (See also: this article.).
I cannot be a part of any community run by someone who voted for Trump not only once, which could have been excused by ignorance, but a second time, in the midst of a pandemic he has done nothing to alleviate and after four years of his constant spewed hatred, misogyny, and xenophobia. I am frankly shocked that anyone who can profess a love for a character as intelligent and empathetic as Lord Peter Wimsey could even consider voting for a hate-filled, sociopathic piece of shit like the creature who is about to finally ooze his way out of an office he did his damnedest to destroy – literally, as of January 6.
Seriously – you voted for someone who talked about grabbing women’s pussies and mocked a disabled journalist? TWICE?
And, for the record, yes: if you support a racist, that does, in fact, make you racist. Sorry.
Oh well. I’ll try to do better next time.