Monday, September 26, 2016

A Political Wish

I couldn't watch the debate tonight. It was in the middle of dinner time and the bedtime routine. And really, I just couldn't face it. I am finding the coverage of this election really gets under my skin and brings up all sorts of things I prefer to keep stored under lock and key in my imaginary trunk of sexist crap that has happened to me.

So, anyway. I didn't watch. I gather from my Twitter feed that Hillary did great, Trump was Trump, and no one knows what this will mean for this election.

I am finding it funny to watch a bunch of men be amazed by Hillary's calm, collected response to Trump spewing hateful nonsense. Do they not realize that the Republicans have literally spent more than 20 years giving her opportunity after opportunity to practice the ability to control her reactions to being on the receiving end of hateful nonsense? Practice makes perfect.

I have one other election-related thing I want to get off my chest, too.

As long time readers know, I follow several Republican pundit-types on Twitter, because I like to know what people with different political viewpoints than my own are thinking. Mostly, I'm glad I've done this. Even during this election season, it has on the whole been more informative than infuriating. All of the Republicans I follow are anti-Trump. It just turned out that way: I added these people to my Twitter feed after the last election. I picked people whose views were different than mine but who wouldn't make me want to punch my computer, well before Trump was a candidate.

However, I've noticed a certain lack of self-awareness. To be fair, we all have a lack of self-awareness in some area or another, so this is hardly surprising. But I've watched one after another of these guys do things like tweet about how much Hillary does or does not smile. Sometimes it is serious, sometimes it is a joke, and usually they are surprised and/or dismissive when people are displeased by what they've said. I think that is because they "know" that they aren't sexist or racist or whatever, and so of course the rest of us must be misunderstanding them or not "getting" the point they are making.

I think they genuinely mean well, at least most of the time. In fact, having followed them for quite awhile now, I tend to think they are not more racist or sexist in their own personal beliefs than their peers on the other side of the political divide. But they live inside a distortion field of sorts. No one ever tells them to smile. No one ever holds their purse tighter when they approach. They have never wondered how to handle the weirdly sexist thing their colleague just said to them. No one has ever called them an affirmative action hire. And so on and so on. They probably read about these things happening, and they may even believe what they read. They don't see it and they certainly don't experience it, though, so it is easy to forget about and dismiss.

This makes it is all too easy to decide that it is OK to overlook the racist crap some Senator is spewing, because he agrees with them on taxes. And they can convince themselves that it is OK to ignore the misogynistic policies a candidate proposes, because he's got trade policy ideas they like.

The problem is that ignoring that racism and sexism, and in fact agreeing to be a fellow traveler with that racism and sexism, has allowed this cancer in our body politic to grow and spread, until it threatens our democratic norms. Anyone who thinks they can control this cancer is mistaken. If we let it remain, it will continue to weaken us, and we will always be at risk from another outbreak of Trumpism or some other equally disturbing disease.

If we make it through this year without electing a racist, misogynistic fascist to the White House, it is my fervent wish that these nice, reasonable Republican guys stop and really think about the extent to which their own willingness to be fellow travelers with people who embrace racism and sexism and other forms of bigotry helped enable Trump's rise.

Really, we all need to stop and assess this, because like I said: this is a cancer. It makes us weaker. I suspect most of us can find a way to do more to help excise it. But in particular, I hope the "never Trump" Republicans think about it. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept, etc., etc. They might hold themselves to a higher standard, but they walked alongside the standard Trump has embodied for a long, long time. Is it really so surprising that so many people think it is acceptable?


  1. Poe's law can easily be avoided with a /s. And when one is caught one should not be defensive to the injured party, but make it clear that was the opposite of what was meant and sometimes the failure mode of clever is asshole, to quote scalzi.

  2. I wasn't sure whether to watch the debate. I was nervous and dreading what might happen. I am so glad I did watch. Hillary did so much better than anyone I've ever seen debate anything. I can't think of a single mistake. Trump looked like a loud bully who didn't know what he was talking about. It was reassuring and gave me more hope for this election than I had thought possible.

  3. Anonymous4:10 AM

    Thank you, thank you for showing that they are Americans aware of sexism and racism in their society and working very hard to combat it. It heartens me when it can look like everyone is cut from the same cloth.


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