People like me—members of a desperate and discombobulated coastal elite—have floated a number of different explanations for this outcome. Maybe Americans don’t mind that Trump is racist because we’re racist, too. We live in a racist, sexist country, and Trump has given the racists and the sexists the chance to vote their true beliefs. But what about all the counties and states that went for Trump after having voted Barack Obama into office? Maybe Americans are more sexist than they are racist, in the end, and their votes for Trump were really votes against Hillary Clinton. A third explanation blames white women for the outcome, given that a majority of them voted for Trump in spite of his misogyny. Or perhaps it’s the case that millions of people—including, for example, the third of Latino voters who lined up for Trump—are living in a world built from outright lies and fake news reports from Macedonia. Perhaps these people didn’t know, or would not believe, the truth of what Trump has said and done. They failed to understand that he’s a racist pig, and so they elected him.
Here’s my theory: Tuesday’s surprise had less to do with dueling facts than rival definitions. I suspect that many Americans—an electoral college victory’s worth, at least—would agree that we shouldn’t elect a racist to the presidency. By that logic, Trump should have been defeated easily; he failed a basic moral test. But if racist is to be a decisive and disqualifying label then we need to have consensus on its meaning—my understanding of what it is to be a racist must be the same as everybody else’s. What happened Tuesday tells me that it’s not.
Here’s my theory: Tuesday’s surprise had less to do with dueling facts than rival definitions. I suspect that many Americans—an electoral college victory’s worth, at least—would agree that we shouldn’t elect a racist to the presidency. By that logic, Trump should have been defeated easily; he failed a basic moral test. But if racist is to be a decisive and disqualifying label then we need to have consensus on its meaning—my understanding of what it is to be a racist must be the same as everybody else’s. What happened Tuesday tells me that it’s not.He’s right of course. The definition of racist and misogynist are very much not a consensus. I think the author correctly identifies the problem, and I commend him for his relatively honest take on it.
But the reason that’s so is because leftist’s have been using those subjective terms in a blatantly opportunistic way. Bit by bit, they have expanded the definition of both ‘racist’ and ‘misogynist’ to include… well … everyone. Or at the very least everyone who doesn’t agree with them about the solutions to these ‘problems’. And to paraphrase the great animated movie “The Incredibles”, when everyone is a racist and misogynist, no one is.
I’ve been saying this in part for decades, and very very specifically for a year or two. We need a hard definition of what these words actually mean. But Liberalism doesn’t dare give us one because the minute they do it will be judged as either overly broad and politically self serving, or overly specific because it doesn’t deliver the demonization they want.
None the less, admitting the problem is an excellent step. Now maybe we can begin the discussion about what ‘racism’ and ‘misogyny’ really are, and in the process bring some ‘facts’ into the conversation. Facts that detail the very real and obvious behavioral difference between blacks and whites, men and women. Facts about biology, genetics and thought. Facts which are objective, and will therefore be much more persuasive to most people, than all the subjective nonsense the left has been trying to sell.
These won’t be easy circles for the left to square, but if they were ever going to start thinking rationally about what they really believe or ever seriously engage in honest introspection, this would be the time. They have suffered a crushing and … let’s be frank… utterly humiliating defeat to the twin pillars of leftist ideology. And that’s the kind of thing that fosters genuine self examination. The entire movement to demonize and marginalize white heterosexual men has been mugged by reality.
More than that, it was mugged, beaten, brutalized, and left naked and bleeding on the front lawn of its parent’s house. Trump was such an extreme example of everything they despised, that even the establishment right bought into their thoughtless characterizations of him, even though they subscribe to only the absolute minimum of the leftist pillars of ‘thought’.
This is a good, and healthy step for American liberals, and I’d like to once again commend Slate’s “Daniel Engber” for being so honest and thoughtful about it. When the rest of the girls are ready to put down their ridiculous signs and start talking instead of screaming and crying, I hope they begin to listen to him.