Here is a riddle for you….Do you know what I am describing? Mostly white, mostly male, mostly older, mostly higher than average income, mostly Christian, mostly rural, mostly not college educated…Who are they? Yes, you got it….the average Donald Trump voter. Let’s unpack the actual stats before we delve deeper. White, older, men shouldn’t shock you. The part that gives me pause and gives me some information is this. These older white men are wealthier than average and are not college educated. Here is the second part of the riddle, what is another name for this demographic? Reach deep….Yes, there it is…they are the patriarchy. When you add the uneducated part, what you get is the portion of the patriarchy who live outside of the mix of cultures a city brings. They have not gone to college to have that Ethics and Logic class that would inform them of the flaws in their arguments. They have not been taught how to find accurate sources required by college professors. They have so much power in the world and they don’t even know it.
Their demographics are the only way to account for their lament that their voice has not been heard. I think what they don’t realize, one iota, is that the entire structure of our society and our entire culture is set up to hear them. Given the demographics, I can’t imagine that there is any real contact with the people, their new president promised to hurt. I grew up in Orange County, California. I went to an average sized high school and I can tell you that there were a handful of African Americans in my graduating class…heck, in my entire high school. We skewed white and wealthy. The silent minority of Latin(x) in our community were likely a larger group. However, in all my years, I can promise that not many of us got a great feel for Hispanic culture of any sort beyond the El Conejo fast food restaurant across the street or our penchant for Tijuana drinking binges. Bottom line is that our world, even in California, was lily white, by and large. I can’t imagine some rural, white, semi affluent neighborhood. It must be incredibly insular.
What aren’t they getting? Well, If you aren’t sent to get a “liberal” education, you stay in that insular situation. You primarily mix with other people that look, act, pray, and vote like you do. Hence, you don’t hear…or you disbelieve what is going on with minorities and has been going on for some time. Yet, it is hard for me to believe that you really don’t know or really disbelieve. When pressed on some hard issues. A white, median income person would rarely say they would trade places with a person of color. Watch this example, it is telling.
This is all getting very confusing…you just said that they disbelieve that people of color or women have it less fair than they do and you said at the same time that they do know that they have it better….you can’t have it both ways. Folks, this is doublethink. It is the ability to hold two opposite beliefs at one time. While you are believing one, you “forget” that you believe the other. Then, you absolutely forget that the mechanism is happening. It requires a great feat of “will” called the suspension of disbelief. So….deep down, they know they are the patriarchy. They wouldn’t want to trade places with someone who looked like the groups they scapegoat.
What does living in the patriarchy look like that they don’t realize? There is so much of it in so many places, to act like racism, bigotry, homophobia and the like don’t exist seems silly to me. It is overt as well as covert. Denying this flips the script. It gives this patriarchy righteous indignation and myopia – a deadly combination that they know well. What they can’t, or won’t, integrate into their psyche is that no matter how much better or worse off they are now than 8 years ago, they don’t live with micro-aggression and subtle racism every day of their lives. They don’t have to live in a world where every time they walk in a store, from a liquor store to a high end one, they are watched and followed by security. They don’t live in a world where their privacy to mosey around is not their own. They don’t live in a world where when they sit down next to a lady on a subway seat, she moves her purse, instinctively. You don’t know what it is like to live in a world where every time you are walking alone at night you know that down the next dark alley, you may be raped. You don’t know what it is liked to have to hide who you are and who you love from most people because you don’t know if you will be bullied over it. In short, you don’t know how good you’ve got it just by the randomness of you being born to the parents you were born to. This blindness allows the ignorance of “all lives matter” and questioning why we don’t have a straight parade or white awareness month.
It is precisely because you do not have to deal with the micro-bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny that the rest of us have to deal with that you have time to boo-hoo about the things that everybody else would kill themselves to have. Wealthier white people often have this idea that because they are hurting and sad, things that are hurting them and making them sad, no matter how vapid or inane, are every bit as important and meaningful as the things that make others sad and/or oppressed. I have heard it outside of the political context. The sentiment is something to the effect that even though the reasons for the hurt are different, the feelings are the same.
I have heard white, affluent people bemoaning all sorts of terribles. People aren’t acting how they want them to or they are too busy or not busy enough and their world falls apart. The very thought that they won’t have millions of dollars in savings at retirement sends them into a depression. It is all too much for them. I am sympathetic, for sure. It sucks when you look out at the world and are upset with what you see. But really? Meanwhile, the rest of the world doesn’t even really get how to set up an IRA.
Now I am going to get vulnerable. People like me are upset about having to go to food pantries. People like me are upset that they can’t pull a meal together from corn oil that may or may not be rancid, flour, and some stale chips. People like me are upset for their physical well-being on a most basic level. They are worried about not making rent and becoming homeless. People like me are worried about physical violence. You see, even though domestic violence is an equal opportunity offender, people like me have no where to go. We are trapped. I get that y’all relatively affluent, white…primarily men are upset. I get that you feel like your world is falling apart. I wish I could muster even a modicum of sympathy.
Problem is, you also think it is ok to judge everyone else and not yourself and then scapegoat your problems onto those most vulnerable. If for one millisecond you could summon “the observer” part of your personality you may have a chance of seeing the larger picture. The larger picture reveals that there are people who are really hurting about real things. They are hurting about things you can’t comprehend facing. Although it seems like me and you are feeling the same hurt, we are not.
This false equivalency, that the hurts of the uneducated patriarchy are “as real” or “as valid” as:
- the hurts that will be inflicted by DT’s policies if his promises are enacted
- those in poverty
- even women
Is patently false!
If the uneducated patriarchy had to walk a day in their shoes, I am quite confident their entire perspective might change. When they were able to return to their own shoes, they would have a much different perspective on their blessings and their comfy life as compared with others. What this isn’t about is the uneducated patriarchy not being, objectively heard. Seems like a lot of negatives in that sentence but I will roll with it. Through the mediums of ignorance, doublethink, and suspension of disbelief, the uneducated patriarchy can gaslight us and make us think we are going crazy. They can look us in the eye and cry to us that we are mean libtards who won’t listen to their woes. They gaslight us by calling on us to have empathy for their sad, powerful plight.
When the left plays these games, they are playing the Trump game. When the wealthy in the left act this way they reify this way of thinking and comparison. In our house, we are doing better now than we have in some time in all markers. However, the years I spent scraping money together to not make it taught me what real problems look like in the world. It gave me perspective on “first world problems.” For some of us crackers, everything that everyone else does, if different from the way we want them to act, is cause for meltdown. I suggest you allow yourself the space to contemplate that this very ability to complain about the insanity we complain about is a gift most don’t have. Their complaints are ones that are on such a different level as to be laughable. Their problems make our worst problems look like “first world problems.”
What is really absurd is that although Hillary and the Democrats didn’t do a very good job tooting their horn and although they did a shitty job campaigning to the uneducated patriarchy, the last 8 years are one large testament to you being heard. We all are better off than we were 8 years ago. I could run down the laundry list of ways but the DT voters wouldn’t believe them, anyway. They are in a state of suspended disbelief where they are victims of everything….Obama…big government…radical Islam….political correctness…Mexican immigrants….refugees. The list could go on and on. They are gaslighting us. They are not the victims of anything but their own ability to suspend disbelief and succumb to the promises of an imp spinning straw into gold. They are the victims of the evil that can blossom in the heart of any man if given room and a voice. This victimhood is born through first person self absorption and lack of gratitude. Sorry to be rough.
I, personally, want to remain grateful in this world. Grateful in the moment for the immediate things…like butterflies, and rain, and the green grass, and oxygen. That little mustard seed of gratitude then, has a chance of blossoming into gratitude for the more complex things in my life, like my husband and children and home…even when not behaving how we want. That blossom can then overflow to gratitude for things outside of our small understanding. The circle of gratitude can get ever larger, if you let it. When we do this we can see things. When we have this larger perspective our light starts to shine. We can see how good we have it, as part of a powerful class. More than that, we can illuminate the moral darkness pervasive in our our country and be part of the solution born in deciding to see and acknowledge those who face bigotry and injustice as just that. Gratitude for your own condition elicits this. It is easy for me to point the way. It is much more difficult to convince those entrenched in their own misery that they are the ones that have it better than most. Even more so, to convince those people that the answer is not to skapegoat those that have things worse but to get really, really, really grateful.