In a word: rage — that Trump channeled and Clinton did not engage. In a second word: intrusions.
Source, Todd Gitlin on BillMoyers.com: Rage, Misogyny and the Intruders: 3 Factors Behind Trump Victory
It’s been hard–impossible?–to get my fingers moving on the keyboard over anything but our impossible situation.
I’ve been spending a lot of (too much) time on Twitter, because it not only gives me hints of breaking news faster than the NYT site, it gives me what I don’t get otherwise: what the Trumpists are thinking, because the journalists I follow get trolled regularly by these people and forward some of these ugly tweets to show the rest of us what’s going on in that dark world. (One well-known writer warned these people that if they continue to threaten him and his family, he’ll report them to the FBI.)
Well, “thinking” is not the proper word for what these anonymous trolls spew, but it’s Sunday, I should be reading the Times and watching football and I haven’t yet had my full coffee dose.
So, not “thinking.” Emoting. And what they emote is, as we all know, horrifying, deathly, racist, anti-Semitic, anti-woman. Anti-elite, anti-liberal. See above, re the journalist who is being directly threatened. The worst of humanity is splayed all over Twitter. And elsewhere, of course: my sister, a passionate humanist and fully expressive of her despair at this election, just got dosed with poison on her Facebook page, and left me a miserable phone message to that effect. I’ll call her later.
The election post-mortem has begun. More than half the country is squirming wretchedly, analyzing deeply, trying to isolate blame. They’re all blaming themselves, of course, for failing to understand those people who voted for Trump. This is because the people doing the post-mortem–those who lost and who feel lost–are compassionate, humane and very smart. It is the great strength and great flaw of smart, profoundly informed people to react to defeat by agonizing, producing complex reasoning and explanations.
And most of all to assume that most people are as smart, informed, compassionate, and humane as they are. Because how can we assume other than those qualities in others, if it’s all we know about ourselves?
To think we’re all simply more human than otherwise is the fatal flaw and exalted strength of liberals.
I had this startlingly revelation years ago, provided by my then-boss at Paramount Pictures, Frank Yablans, a charming partial sociopath. I was in his office talking about our production schedule, probably. Suddenly he asked me how my love life was.
“Gee, since you ask…” I related a recent lousy episode which had left me in a state of bewilderment. I’d gone out maybe three times with a guy who dropped me fairly brutally. (He also introduced me to cocaine, long before anyone knew its addictive potential. The high was so extraordinary, I came away from it thinking, “I don’t care if they say it’s not dangerous. Any drug that makes me feel that way is dangerous and I’m never trying it again.” And I never did. But I did use that singular sensation as a model, a goal for how I wanted to feel about myself, sans drugs. Took a decade or so, but I succeeded.)
A few days after the brush-off, I’d gone to Dr. Vass, my psychiatrist, told her what had happened, and cried.
“Who is this man?” she said. “You’ve never talked about him before. How long have you known him?”
Snuffle, snuffle: “A week.”
“You met him only a week ago?” she said, incredulous. Snuffle, snuffle. “Yes.”
“Was he special, wonderful?” I thought about that. “No, not really.”
She almost yelled, “Then why on earth are you crying??”
My tears stopped dead, all by themselves. I said, “You mean I don’t have to?”
So that’s how dumb I was.
Back to Frank’s office. I told him all that, and he laughed. Said, “Let me ask you something. Was this guy really, really intelligent?”
I thought about the question–I actually had to think about it. “No, I guess not.”
Frank said, “Don’t you understand: no man who isn’t really intelligent is going to like you. Because you’re really intelligent, smarter than they are.”
I sat there for a few moments, absorbing this remarkable truth. Then I thanked Frank and went back to my office to continue with the absorption.
Frank’s insight changed my life and the way I evaluated men.
That was a long way of saying Todd Gitlin’s essay linked above is the truth. The people who put Trump into, well, I can’t write it. Who put Trump where he is today do not require the deep, compassionate analysis liberal thinkers are prone to. They don’t deserve our tears.
I’m not doing any deep thinking because those people don’t deserve it. Why this happened is simple. Boiling racism pouring out of people who could not accept a black man in the White House. Boiling misogyny added to the racist pot, pouring out of people who cannot accept a woman in the White House. And fear and hatred of the Other–people who don’t look or think like them.
Then further add hemlock to the pot, i.e., James Comey.
Well, I’m one of those Others, the ones the ignorant majority hate and fear. So are the majority of people who voted in this election.
Ergo, read Gitlin, because he calls it.