Oh boy, this election huh? This soul crushing, agonizing, overlong stretch of e-mail scandals, groping tapes, false-equivalences, clueless punditry, and general loss of faith in humanity has been trying for a lot of us. It has also been oddly poetic. We’ve got the first female major party candidate in U.S. history up against this great big orange misogynistic buffoon we can’t afford to stop talking or thinking about until election day. It’s been tough sure, but it also taught this Canadian a lot about America and its people.
1. Snobs are better than Slobs
Most comedies are based on the Slobs vs. Snobs dynamic. Rowdy, crude, free spirits up and elitist standard bearers who just want to ruin your good time have been at each other’s throats in popular fiction for decades. This U.S. election feels like another iteration of that. Trump is the slovenly, perverted, rude, and disrespectful candidate that almost acts like a rallying point for people like him, and Hillary Clinton is the epitome of the political elite. Nothing showed the difference between the two more starkly than the Al Franken charity dinner that happened where the two basically roasted each other in front of a crowd composed of New York’s rich and powerful. Hillary seemed at home and at ease among these people, which makes sense since society’s elite is where I would assume her highest approval rating would be found, while Trump was clearly out of his element. Blundering, aggressive, and utterly graceless, Trump lost the room and received boos and derision from the crowd throughout the latter part of his set. He didn’t belong, and if this were a movie or TV show we’d be firmly on his side, but seeing this dynamic play out in real life? I’m with the snobs. Snobs don’t think joking about sexual assault is funny, snobs think making personal attacks on your opponent’s spouse is unacceptable, snobs don’t mock disabled reporters, and snobs have the decency to not snort like a warthog for ninety minutes straight while stocking your debate opponent like prey. Those seem like things only slobs do, and if that’s the case, maybe we shouldn’t root for them anymore.
2. Racism is mostly about a lack of empathy
I’ve covered this before when I was discussing Veronica Mars, but racism these days isn’t really the aggressive kind where white people get together and go around harassing minorities. These days, it seems to be a total lack of care and empathy when someone powerful speaks to the same fears that inspired those sort of actions. When Trump told the world that Mexico is sending rapists and drug dealers across their boarder to terrorize Americans, many of the most ardent #NeverTrump conservatives of today were willing to defend him on that. When reports of Trump’s housing discriminatory practices were brought to light again, many conservatives stuck by him then. To them, these things weren’t a deal breaker, and that wasn’t because they’re racist in the sense that they hold animosity towards minority groups, just in the sense that they don’t care about how minorities would feel if the leader of the free world did. It isn’t about direct animosity anymore (for the most part, since the alt-right is still a thing), it’s mostly about people not caring about the pain of those who don’t look like they do.
3. Political Correctness is mostly a good thing
A lot of the things Trump says and does has been defended under the banner of how “Political Correctness has gone too far!”, and that has illuminated a very important point for me. I have been annoyed at certain issues that sprang from the politically correct movement, but I’ve never been outright disgusted by them. When someone is overzealous in this regard, I see them as naive and ill-informed at worst, but on the other end we get… well, we get Trump and his alt-right cronies. They, and many mainstream conservatives as well, have mischaracterized being against political correctness as just being a dick. When Trump tells a crowd of people that the women accusing him of sexual assault are too ugly for him to assault, he isn’t being politically incorrect, he’s just being a disgusting scumbag but is too stupid to know the difference. If people are now interpreting “political correctness” to mean “being a half-decent human being”, then we should definitely have more of it.
4. The Far Left have no idea what they’re talking about
This was mostly a discovery I made during the Bernie era, but boy are these guys clueless. Because of this election, when I hear someone proclaim that they’re a progressive, I get a totally different impression from them than they think I’m getting. I now see a person who doesn’t really believe in the things they say they believe in, but just admires those qualities in other people and tries to claim that identity for their own without understanding its significance. For example, they say they want Citizens United overturned, but they won’t vote against it when it really matters. They say they believe every woman has a right to choose what they do with their own body, but are OK with a guy who thinks they should be punished for getting abortions as president. They say they want to fight climate change, but they actively work towards helping a man who thinks it’s a Chinese hoax get elected into the highest office in the land purely out of spite. They vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein as a second option after Bernie even though one has the opposite of his policies, and the other is a crazy person. They are people with high levels of idealism but no sense of the political reality or desire to learn that should go with it. They take things out of context and implement a ridiculous purity test to justify their complete lack of genuine interest in actually learning how to make their nation a better place to live. In short, the Far Left is the Tea Party wing of the Democratic party, except Democrats aren’t craven enough to hand over the reigns to them.
5. Conservatives have zero self-awareness
After this election, which I assume will be a disaster for conservatives, there will be a lot of soul searching about where the party went wrong. There’s probably going to be a lot they get right. They’ll realize the disproportionate power right-wing media has over its electorate, they’ll try to be more inclusive of women and minorities, and they’ll probably campaign with more hope oriented messaging rather than fear. However, I suspect they’ll miss out on correcting the general lack of decency and empathy that exists within the party. There is an overwhelming strain of nastiness that runs along even moderate conservatives they don’t even realize they have, as they decry their more extreme allies for alienating the American people. They’re the same people who didn’t speak up strongly enough when Trump was spearheading the birther movement, they’re the same people who routinely insult Hillary Clinton based on her looks and health, they continue to belittle gay people as disgusting aberrations, and there’s a general caustic rapport among them that paints people with different political leanings as not just wrong, but actively killing their nation. In short, they’re not just part of the problem, they’re exactly the problem and they don’t even realize it yet. This is evidenced by their constant scape-goating of their own issues with painfully incongruent false equivalences and whataboutisms of the lowest order they sputter out every time the GOP elite says or does something heinous. When Trump is vanquished and conservatives don’t change their attitude, I guarantee another “Trump” will rise from the ashes.
If that’s not an optimistic view to consider after this disaster of an election, I’m sorry to hear that, but it’s my way of giving back to the world after learning so much about America throughout this historic contest.
Quote of the Day:
“No puppet! No puppet! You’re the puppet!”
– Donald Trump on whether or not he’s Putin’s puppet.