Monday, April 3, 2017

A Voice from July 2016

Back on July 22, 2016, which was the day after Turnip’s speech at the Republican National Convention, Clay Shirky posted the following to Twitter. Back before just about anyone thought Trump could win (except Keith Ellison, Michael Moore, and a few others), back before we were being told all the time about the resentment of the white working class, etc., etc., Shirky wrote this.

He reposted a link to it yesterday, and it’s bracing to read now:

I want to say something to my liberal white friends: Trump talked a lot of shit last night, but not one word of "I am your voice!" was a lie.

Trump IS the voice of angry whites. He wasn't on stage because he has unusual views. He was on stage because he has the usual ones, loudly. He is the voice of whites who want their neighbors deported if they speak Spanish. He is the voice of whites terrorized by seeing a hijab.

He is the voice of people who think legal and cultural privileges for white conservative Protestants are God's plan, not a bias to be overcome. He is the voice of people who hear 'hard-working' as a synonym for 'white.' He is the voice of people who think black lives matter less.

He speaks for millions.

During the speech, a lot of white liberals in my timeline — people like me — were reacting in disbelief. We can't afford disbelief, not now.

So, believe this: Trump could win. We can help stop him, but that means giving up on a lot of comfortable illusions. The hardest illusion to give up is the majority illusion, where we confuse our neighborhood with the world. Elections are a harsh corrective to thinking everyone agrees with you. Winning isn't about policy, or passion. It's about headcount.

Liberals cluster, in cities and in states. My home state, Missouri, has gone from purple to red because enough liberals left. Meanwhile, California's high-margin vote for Clinton will be wasted, because the election hinges on Ohio and Pennsylvania and Virginia.

I'm a white guy, so I'm an imperfect vehicle for this message. Follow @docrocktex26 and @jbouie, who serve hot coffee on this stuff all day.

But I can remind other white people, as an insider, that the amount of white rage available for political use in America remains enormous. "When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression."

White liberals should know head count is against us. In our communities, we're a comfortable majority. In the U.S., we're a permanent minority. Most whites vote against Democratic presidential candidates, and have done in every election since LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964. When Democrats committed to reducing whites' ability to lord it over blacks, it cost the party the white vote for two generations. So far.

The liberal cause has been saved by African-Americans, who are populous and disciplined and consistent enough voters to overcome white rage. Unlike President Obama's campaigns, though, whites can't coast on minority Get Out The Vote work in 2016, not with VoterID laws in 33 states.

Trump can win, if he can whip up white rage unchallenged, if enough women vote for him, and if Red states suppress black and Hispanic votes. Trump can win, if he concentrates on white fear. That's how you get white evangelicals to pick a libertine agnostic over a liberal Christian.

So what's a white liberal to do?
  • First, realize we are a minority, and we have to campaign like one. 
  • Donate to the campaign, for starters. Yes, yes, Clinton's not as liberal as we'd like, but minorities never get the luxury of demanding a perfect candidate. Just give.
  • Talk with pro-Trump relatives, because they won't listen to people who aren't white. (Statistically, they won't know any they care about.)
  • Donate to fight voter suppression.
  • In November, call voters, or better, get to a swing state and knock on doors. Get to poorer communities and drive people to the polls.
Trump has promised 40% of the country what they've always wanted: a racist welfare state. If he persuades 1 additional voter in 10, he wins.

Seeing my timeline during the convention last night made me despair. We've brought fact-checkers to a culture war. Time to get serious.
And it has all come true, except that last part about Trump delivering a racist welfare state to his supporters. So far, it looks like he's only delivering a racist state to everyone, without any "welfare" left over for them.

No comments: