I’ve been weaning myself off of social politics for several reasons, but I got caught up in political Twitter this morning. I saw a tweet by Trump being circulated around in which he called out Meryl Streep for the speech she made at the Golden Globes Awards. I read about what happened, and then I saw Meghan McCain call out the speech as the reason people voted for Trump, and it irritated me. Then, a Hollywood type responded to McCain, and she said he lived in a Hollywood bubble. That set me off on a mini-rant of my own because I hate the conceit that liberals live in a bubble. Her father said something similar back when he was running about liberals in their salons, and it pissed me off then as well. Here is the first tweet in my mini-rant:
“Liberals look down on working class white people!” I’m not saying this is a complete lie, but the reverse is even truer.
— Minna Hong (@asiangrrlMN) January 9, 2017
First of all, Meghan McCain is the last person to be talking about bubbles. She’s grown up very privileged as the daughter of a senator, and I’m pretty certain that most of the people she is friends with are from a similar background. That is human nature–to cluster with like-minded people. We all do it, but for whatever reason, only liberals are called out on it. I’d also like to remind McCain and her ilk that many liberals don’t live in bubbles. There are plenty who live in very red areas and are doing their level best to turn their states blue. I admire them because they’re doing yeoman’s work, while I sit in a fairly reliable blue city, relatively safe from destructive policies.
More importantly, I’m tired of all this talk about how we (liberals) have ignored the white working class and/or look down our noses on them. As I said in my first tweet, it’s not necessarily untrue that some liberals do look down on the white working class, and I’m not against including them in our umbrella. I’ve written about this subject before, most recently in this post*. We do have a problem with talking about the poor in our country. We avoid it like the plague, even liberals. We talk about the rich and the middle class, but the working class and the poor? No. We just ignore them. We pretend they don’t exist, or, worse yet, we blame them for their situation. It’s a failing of all Americans, and I do not want to sweep that under the rug.
However, this post is not about that. This post is about my frustrations with the continual notion that liberals are in a bubble and not in touch with the common man. You hear it incessantly from Republicans, many of them who are lifelong politicians. “DC doesn’t care about the Beltway.” “NYC sneers at the flyover states.” “Hollywood liberals don’t know anything about reality.” Meryl Streep mentioned that most people who go to Hollywood to act are from other places, and Hollywood is a place for the misfits and the geeks. By the way, in her speech, Streep was standing up for Serge Kovaleski, the disabled reporter whom Trump mocked (and who’s won a Pulitzer Prize, by the way), the freedom of the press, and the freedom of the arts. There is nothing in her speech that was hateful, but it was interpreted that way by conservatives. The most powerful part of her speech was when she was talking about Trump mocking Kovaleski and how stunned she was by it. She said:
And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.
This was part of my mini-rant. To all the conservatives who were clucking their tongues over liberals being mean to Trump and the common man, where the fuck were you during the entire campaign when Trump was cruel to everyone from Mexicans to women to Asian people to disabled people to…there were too many to count. He was putting down someone almost every day, and no one said shit about it until the tape of him talking about grabbing a woman by the pussy came to light. Even then, many conservatives dismissed it as locker room talk, and it didn’t stop Trump from getting elected.
There’s plenty of media on how the liberals ignored the white working class this past election, but why do we never hear about how Republicans fueled the fear of the same demographic to win the election? It’s the same as what Streep said above–the worst part of all the shit Trump said during the election is that he normalized that kind of thinking and made it OK for his supporters to say the same kind of things. They didn’t have to feel bad that they thought ‘illegal immigrants’ were stealing their jobs or that black people were lazy or that women were only useful for sex. One thing I said in my mini-rant was that we never talk about the fact that WWC have legitimate reasons to be angry, but their reason for hating/fearing minorities and members of other oppressed groups is because they’ve been talked that no matter how low on the totem pole they are, they’re still better than minorities. So, when they see people they consider lesser outpacing them, they are consumed with rage. I’ve heard it enough from people who’ve lived in WWC areas–the disdain their neighbors have for anyone they consider an outsider.
Trump is far from the common man, but he is the perfect leader for his supporters because he embodies the victimization mentality that they feel themselves. “The world is out to get me. I can’t catch a break. If it weren’t for X, Y, or Z, life would be good.” I mean, the man is hate-tweeting his ‘enemies’ at three in the morning, for fuck’s sake. He can’t let any slight, perceived or real, pass him by without responding. Everything is personal to him, and he cannot abide someone he considers under him (which is most people) not knowing their place. This is the same as his supporters. They consider someone like me a personal affront them. Back when marriage equality was being debated, I couldn’t understand why straight people were so up in arms about it. I mean, there’s the religious aspect, yes, but there are plenty of things in the Bible that are condemned which they ignore, so why did they fixate on this? Something that didn’t affect them at all? It dawned on me that they felt marriage to be the propriety of straight people, so if queers were able to do it, too, then something was taken away from them. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that, but I heard that from more than one person opposed to marriage equality. Somehow, me being able to marry a woman made their traditional marriage meaningless. No, it doesn’t make much sense, but many beliefs are based on emotions.
I was subtweeting** McCain, yes, but it really goes beyond her. She was only voicing the same bullshit that her compatriots have mouthed for at least the last eight years. The Democrats are the party of the elites, and the Republicans are the party of the common man. Can I say how much I hate that phrase, ‘common man’? It’s a myth, as is Middle America. It’s a way of putting down anyone who is different without being too overt about it. In addition, there’s no such thing as a prototypical American. We are such a diverse country, it’s nearly impossible to say who is normal and who isn’t. In addition, talking about the typical American as some Joe Schmoe from Racine, Wisconsin, who only eats meat and potatoes and chews on a hayseed is really damn insulting to the people you’re purporting to uplift.
I feel as if I’m spitting in the wind. I can say all this shit until I’m blue in the face, and still, I’d have to read about how liberals are elitist and don’t understand the regular folk. Side note: I’m perfectly fine with being an elitist if that means I believe in knowledge, diversity, and showing compassion for my fellow human beings. I don’t know when those became bad things, but I still believe in them. In taiji class today, we were talking about how the ability to analyze a situation accurately can help in solving the problems of said situation. It’s one reason I’ve pared back on social media, actually. There are too many hot takes and not enough in-depth analysis. There is so much circle-jerking and back-patting, it’s hard to have a nuanced discussion. It’s much easier to do your own thread as I did and to have people agree with you than to thoughtfully engage with someone who has a different idea than your own.
I will fully admit that I gravitate towards people who are like me in some way or the other. I’m most comfortable with the freaks and the geeks, the underdogs and the losers. I’m uneasy around more traditional people, and I know I make them discomforted as well. Here’s the thing. I don’t want to be around people who are disdainful of me or think I’m lesser of a human being. I’m fortunate in that I work for myself, and I live in a very liberal area, so I don’t have to interact with rabid conservatives if I don’t want to. I know that it’s possible to change a person or a group, but that takes time, energy, and is taxing on the person trying to elicit the change. I admire and respect people who are able to do that work, but that’s not me–at least not now.
The difference is, I shy away from people who hate me. I feel that many of the WWC Trump supporters shun people whom they hate. I’m sure they feel as if I and others like me hate them, too, but most of us don’t. On the other hand, I’ve seen enough from Trump rallies and from Trump supporters to know that many of them do hate me and people like me. Or at least fear us. My brother reminded me that conservatives lost their minds when Obama was first elected and predicted that the country was going to hell. He was implying that maybe liberals are showing the same mindset now. I disagreed with him because the fear the conservatives felt when Obama was elected wasn’t based on anything he said, whereas there’s plenty of evidence from Trump himself that his presidency, however short it is, is going to be a major shitshow. That’s why I don’t like ‘both sides do it’ if it’s a false equivalence, which I feel this is.
I don’t have a pithy summary of what I’m trying to say. I’m just drained and afraid of what’s to come in ten days. The best I can hope for is that Trump decides to be a dick to Republicans and actually does some positive things. It’s a dim hope, and it’s dampened by the fact that the appointments to his cabinet are horrific. There’s a Chinese curse which states, “May you live in interesting times.” We’re about to find out exactly how ‘interesting’ this time can get.
*Which, ironically, was also in response to a tweet. This is one reason I can’t quit Twitter completely–it gives me good fodder for my blog.
**I have a running gag of when I subtweet someone, I tell that person I’m subtweeting them. It’s funny to me, and I’m not stopping it any time soon.