Posted on November 25, 2016
A lot of Trump voters say “I’m not a racist or a sexist or ethnocentric bigot, because I had a different reason for voting for Trump.” And I’m willing to go a certain distance with that. I’m willing to grant there is a reasonably likelihood that, if we figured out a valid way to apportion importance, then all forms of bigotry combined would be less important than all other motives for supporting Trump.
Nevertheless, I come back to these Trump supporters and say: “Now if you admitted your vote did enable an outbreak of bigotry, though that was not your goal, and said you were sorry about that, then I’d agree you might not be a direct bigot.” However I am still waiting for one single Trump supporter to say something like that. Since they don’t, I infer they are OK with enabling an outbreak of bigotry. And in my mind that makes them a type of bigot themselves. In particular, they are people who recognize no compelling sense of solidarity with other people not like them. And that is a form of bigotry. In particular, they have divided the world into those who deserve sympathy, and those who do not.
Now I know they they will come back with various forms of denial: there is no outbreak of bigotry, or Trump did not cause the outbreak, or my vote did not contribute to the outbreak. But given the number of confirmed violent act of bigotry reported since the election, denial is simply another form of bigotry. So I am faced with the reasonable conclusion that nearly all trump supporters are in fact bigoted in some degree. (I’m not claiming Hillary supporters are all pure, but that is a separate question.)
Now I know there is another defense that claims Hillary is in some way worse than Trump because she bombs foreigners of a different skin color. Hence voting for Trump was arguably the lesser of two bigoted evils. But even if we accept that logic for the sake of argument, the fact remains than no one using that argument seems to be acknowledging or regretting the outbreak of bigotry they helped cause. I say that still makes them bigots.
So we are left with a problem: once we have a perception like that (admittedly based on a puristic moralism) how do we go about engaging in politics with such people? We have to assume that most of them have a retrievable better nature. Some of them are friends and family members whom we are better placed to reach than is anyone else. We also have to assume that we have our own moral failings that are probably more evident to them than to ourselves. Even so it is a tough sale. Somehow we need to convey the idea of universal solidarity, and all it entails, and what it means for supporting Trump, without personalizing it into an attack.