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Posted by on Nov 28, 2020 in TG Roundup

Tom Nichols: Let’s Understand the ‘Other Side’

If you voted for Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden (or for any democrat for that matter), you might have been lectured about the need to understand the ‘other side’;  their economic anxiety yada yada. They also tell you that the other side is the real America (as if if you vote anti-Republican, you are not an American.)

Here is Tom Nichols’ (a Republican) a rebuttal to that.

Dennis, when you say “it behooves to be deeper in our understanding,” you say this as if the Trump cult is some unique tribe that requires our compassion and understanding, and not exactly what they are telling us they are.

But more to the point, why is it always a plea for *us* to understand *them*? Why is it always one way? Why is there never a plea – or demand – to people in rural Indiana to say: “Listen, you better start understanding the 100 million Americans who aren’t like you.”

I’m so f*cking tired of people going to rural Wisconsin like anthropologists on a field trip. Take those same people from Oshkosh and put them on a bus to Boston or LA and say: “You better learn about these people. They’re your fellow citizens and they way outnumber you.” 

And just to continue this rant a little more: These Trump voters did not spend a lot of time saying “You know, the inner cities are a mess, and people there seem desperate and unhappy. I wonder why. Maybe I should understand them more.” Instead, they said: F*ck those cities.

They didn’t give a rat’s ass if NYC melted through the earth’s crust; in fact, they reveled in it. They went to see “Escape From New York” and snorted about how Real America was better. They didn’t want to hear about the inner city, because that was a “culture” problem. 

But now that poor whites apparently have the same “culture” problem that poor urban blacks did – persistent joblessness, unmarried moms, drugs – suddenly it’s all national goddamn emergency because it’s in Ohio instead of New York (which is doing just fine, now). 

Do you see why I’m not really interested in endless hand-wringing about the inherent niceness of people who never cared that much about million of their own fellow citizens and then voted for a cruel, stupid racist? I think their beliefs are pretty obvious. 

“I am traveling to Bumblef*ck and East Jesus to interview Real Americans, because the 50 million people who live between Boston and DC are outliers and weirdos who have nothing in common with the authentic 5000 people in this hamlet.”

But you see the problem, right? 5000 people in a small town are Real America; 50 million in BOS/NYC/DC are just visitors or imposters. The GOP and Trump spoon-fed us this narrative and too many in the media accepted it.

Question by @dcherring

Tom, what percentage of Trump’s 74mil voters do u reckon voted from the primary motivation to hurt someone else?

Tom’s reply:

Way, way too many of them. Right-populism and the nationalist streak that goes with it is cruel and other-directed, not just in the United States, but the UK, Italy, Poland, Hungary, many other places.

In Poland, for example, anti-Muslim feeling is running super-high. But the punch line? There are almost no Muslims in Poland. It’s a scapegoating of other people for things Poles worry about. As @AdamSerwer once said of Trumpism: The cruelty is the point.

Read the new book by @anneapplebaum about democracy being on the ropes. It’s not about honest, hard-working people fearing for their way of life. It’s a nasty virus that is spreading in places where life isn’t really all that bad.

I know we want to believe our fellow citizens voted as if they are just making a civic decision about what’s best for America. I think that was a legit way to view 2016. I think there is almost no way to view Trump’s voters in 2020 that way.

I will quickly stipulate here that the left has a brutish authoritarian streak in it, and that there are millions of good people who might have voted for Trump out of foolishness or delusion, and millions who voted for Biden who are horrible citizens and dangerous to America.

But the insane Left does not control the Democratic Party, and the totalitarian streak among the liberals is still mostly stupid college kids and their professors, along with hucksters in the HR departments. Joe Biden isn’t that. 

In short, I think it’s time to stop trying to see the good in the most loyal Trump voters. The media has been tromping around diners for five years looking for the spark of goodness and civic virtue in them, and it isn’t there. We just have to accept that, imo.

I also think it’s time for the Trump voters to start thinking about understanding the rest of America, instead of it always being this one-way street of understanding and compassion. They’re the new minority. They might think harder about *why* others feel about them as we do. 

I’m not arguing for hating on every Trump voter. But I think over four years, we’ve run out of excuses for viewing them as somehow anxious or misunderstood or “just plain folks who want a fair deal” and all that shit. Those arguments, imo, are unsustainable.

PS: This is Maureen Dowd’s Trumper brother. Read this and tell me that this is not basically just an old white guy who thinks the world doesn’t love him enough.

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