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Progressives, please listen

January 26, 2017

I don’t like Donald Trump (aka “The Orange One”). I didn’t vote for him and my concerns regarding his potential to disregard the Constitution should he find its restrictions too inconvenient haven’t gone away. All that said…

I don’t pretend to know what kind of President Donald Trump will prove to be. My hope is that he’ll be a really good one. I equally hope he doesn’t turn out to be a really poor choice. Odds are he will fall somewhere in the middle.

As a rule, I try to avoid feelings of schadenfreude. I think they are petty. More than that, I find them inconsistent with my Christian faith. I said I try. My success in that trying varies depending on a number of factors. Lately, I’ve been pretty unsuccessful in that effort. So, I’ll admit I find the perturbation of progressives quietly amusing. After so many years of hearing them suggest the rest of us were the cause of all society’s ills, that because we refused to embrace the latest explosion of previously unknown issues and increasingly intrusive (and arguably stupid) ways of addressing them we were all racist/xenophobic/misogynistic/homophobic/Islamophobic/Nazi/fascists. Did I say “suggest?” Nah, they didn’t suggest, they came right out and said it. They still are. It’s pretty amazing, really, that I can preface a comment on social media with a statement of my concerns regarding Donald Trump (and the fact I did not vote for him) and still have people who claim to be intelligent, well-educated and desirous of mutually respectful discussion begin by insisting I 1)voted for him, 2)am a Republican and 3)am a conservative. That is usually the high point of the discussion. Shortly thereafter, the “angry, middle-aged, beer swilling, gun hugging, white man” barbs begin to fly. All because I dare to call into question anything popular with the Left. So, to my progressive friends (I have a few) and readers (do I have any?) I offer the following.

  • I do not care what you believe. Regardless of whether I agree with it or find it objectionable to the point of repugnance, I will defend your right to both believe it and to express and defend your belief. I will tolerate no efforts by government to silence you.
  • I do not care how you or other adults live your lives. As long as the other person is an adult able to give consent, you can love anyone you want, live with who you want and sleep with who you want. If you want to have a relationship with several at the same time, that’s fine. I simply do not care. No one has the right to dictate otherwise to you.
  • I don’t care what you eat. Organic food grown in your community hydroponic garden? Fantastic. A 10,000 Kcal/day exclusively fast food diet? That’s fine too. Your call.
  • You say you get around by gas/diesel/hybrid/electric/pedal/foot power? Sounds good to me.
  • You believe anthropogenic climate change is a real thing? That’s fine. You don’t? That’s okay, too. Feel free to advocate for either one, or neither.

In short, pretty much anything you want to believe and any way you want to live is fine with me. There’s just one thing. I view everyone else the same way, including not only those who disagree with me, but who disagree with you as well.

That’s really the problem, isn’t it? You can’t really tolerate the idea that other people might disagree with you. Oh, intellectually you might be able to grasp it, but when it comes down to real disagreement, when real people suggest you and those who believe like you, might be wrong, you simply can’t tolerate that. You’ve spent so much time convincing yourself you’re right, so much time in a self-reinforcing pseudo (or even anti) intellectual environment, you simply lack not just the desire to accept that reasonable people can disagree with your most dearly held beliefs, you lack the ability. This expresses itself in disdain and anger. It perpetuates a certain smugness that predates the election (more on this later).

This isn’t made better by your belief your side had won the culture war (to be fair, lots of conservatives and libertarians thought you had, too). Now, you’re faced with the stark realization that’s simply not the case. Not only had you not won, but while you were celebrating your nonexistent victory, the people whose views you thought irrelevant and dying were becoming angrier and looking for a vehicle to bring you down. And you provided one.

See, Donald Trump was a long-time Democrat. He is the product of an age and place when being a Democrat was associated with success and rightness. His current identification with the Republican party is tenuous at best. Progressives marched further and further left, largely taking the Democrats with them. And Trump, a man it turns out who really wanted to be President, watched and waited. And when you had gone far enough, when the divide between you and the rest of America was great enough, when so many of the policies you had insisted were “the answer” had failed to deliver enough times, he read the mood of the rest of America far better than you and made his move.

It’s not like you weren’t warned. Oh, feel free to dismiss the words of conservatives (especially Republicans) and libertarians. That’s not who I was referring to, anyway. You were warned on Vox. By a modern liberal. Before the Republican convention. In April of 2016, Emmett Rensin had a lot to say. Among his words:

“Trump capturing the nomination will not dispel the smug style; if anything, it will redouble it. Faced with the prospect of an election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the smug will reach a fever pitch: six straight months of a sure thing, an opportunity to mock and scoff and ask, How could anybody vote for this guy? Until a morning in November when they ask, What the f*** happened?

This smugness, the belief that you know all the important facts and that those who disagree with you are victims of their own ignorance, led to it being almost self-perpetuating. That it could be otherwise was inconceivable. That smugness had a price. It was a price Rensin stated simply in the same article.

“The wages of smug is Trump.”

So now, here we are. Donald Trump is President of the United States. So much of what you believed to be true, views you believed were shared by an overwhelming majority of Americans, has proven itself to be not as popular as you thought. And the smugness continues. And many progressives, deliberately or otherwise, allow themselves to be associated with groups like Refuse Fascism and DisruptJ20. Really? Given the outcome of the election, what would lead any reasonable person to conclude they want the America that voted against their candidate and policies to associate them with at least one group that includes luminaries such as Bill Ayers (whom Refuse Fascism rather disingenuously refers to as an “activist/educator”) and Carl Dix (a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA)? As it turns out, the previously mentioned Rensin apparently gave into the hysteria too, even before the election. Vox suspended him as a result.

Did you really think having so many people walk around in vagina hats was going to endear you and your cause to the American people? Your spokespeople couldn’t even articulate a single coherent message. It didn’t help that you had organizers make it clear that women who might otherwise support you were not welcome if they couldn’t embrace pro-choice on abortion.

Allow me to suggest that if Trump enjoys even a moderate degree of success during his first four years, his odds of being reelected are pretty good. The White House, after all, is quite the bully pulpit. If progressives continue with the tactics they’ve used thus far, I suggest his reelection, in the presence of almost any measurable success, is almost guaranteed. And like it or not, as it stands right now, you have no one to blame but yourselves.

My prediction is that you will not learn. You will continue in the same smug behavior. You’ll convince yourselves Donald Trump received 25% of the Hispanic vote because they “just didn’t know” and so “voted against their own interests,” as if you, I or anyone else has any business telling others what’s in their best interests. Smugness is hard to overcome, isn’t it?

When this sort of thing happened years ago, progressive-ism began its decades long march. Have you considered the possibility that this is another wave? That 10, 20, 30 years from now, your views will be the ones at which people sneer? I doubt you have, because I don’t see you abandoning the smugness that produced a Trump win.

Look, here’s an unsolicited bit of advice on how progressives/liberals/Democrats can ensure they remain a viable force in the face of a potentially game changing election. Stop focusing on colleges and universities. Don’t confuse Vox and Salon for effective ways of communicating with the rest of America. Don’t allow yourselves to believe you’re the only ones to use Twitter (for however much longer it hangs around). Stop believing sites like Quora are much beyond a gathering place for pseudo-intellectuals. Here are places to go. Farms, ranches, job sites and union halls. Don’t tell small business owners unfortunate things like “you didn’t build that.” Cease pretending most American businesses are not small businesses and that they have the resources to fund your policies. Don’t tell Americans who are unemployed or underemployed that the country is enjoying a great recovery. Insist on real transparency. For instance, if you’re not going to include those who have stopped looking for work because they simply haven’t found any in spite of long months of fruitless searching among the unemployed, be honest about it. When discussing the national debt, present the numbers the way they are. If you talk about the budget, don’t pretend the way Washington calculates savings has any relationship to the real world – families and businesses that run finances that way go broke. Stop pretending being a celebrity who earns millions singing, acting or playing sports is somehow morally superior to the businesswoman who both earns millions and creates jobs. Quit deceiving yourself and others into believing there are answers that don’t have consequences – understand there are no solutions, only trade-offs. Above all, stop being smug. If you’ll do these things (and yes, many are things the right needs to do, too) you can remain a viable force in American politics. I just don’t think you will. I think you’re done but don’t know it, yet.

And I didn’t even have to vote for him.

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