They Are Hurting? Who?

In one of the many conversations I’ve had with a local friend, I presented the proposition that Trump supporters, and most of his voters, were motivated by racism. In fact, many are primarily motivated by racism.

He responded with, “I don’t believe that. They are hurting and they voted for someone who promised to give back what they’d lost.”

Of course, what they imagine they lost was racial entitlement.

I have thought a lot about the phrase “they are hurting” since that conversation. I hear that phrase from liberal and wingnut commentators often, too. Living among the white working class my whole life, I’ve seen plenty of their hurting. When they pretend to be Christians and to care about the “unborn,” they are intentionally hurting women’s rights and liberty; even when it is women doing the hurting. When they “support the troups,” they are intentionally hurting the world by providing fortune and bodies and minds to the terrorism of whoever our “enemy of the moment” may be for the profit of the military/industrial complex and the 1% who profit from that industry. When they deny the overwhelming evidence and common sense scientific conclusion that human carbon output is the primary cause of rapid and destructive climate change they are hurting future generations of humans and the entire planet. When they pretend that athletes taking a knee in protest of police murders, racial targeting, and societal racism they are hurting everyone who doesn’t look like them. When they agree that building a Great Wall to stop immigrants from fleeing the political and environmental consequences of American exploitation of South and Central America they are hurting people who have no alternatives. So, it’s true that they are “hurting,” but who they are hurting is the real question.

I don’t believe that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist. As Lincoln once said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time.” I figure that “some” is about 5-10% of the population. You can also “fool most of the people some of the time” and that might add another 10-20% to Trump’s voters. The people who go to Trump rallies and who cheer for his racist crap and his mindless corruption, however, are not in Lincoln’s benevolent estimation. They love Trump because he says exactly what they think and believe. That doesn’t let the other 20-30% off of the hook, though. They are hurting exactly the same people who are the targets of Trump’s fascist policies. Ignorance and stupidity do not excuse fascism, racism, sexism, and homophobia. When you claim you are “hurting,” you need to at least admit that the hurt is something you are inflicting, not something that causes you suffering.