Who’s Patronizing?

Who’s Patronizing?

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has an op-ed in the February 23 edition called “Fight Trump, Not His Voters”. In it, Kristof makes his usual argument about how liberal Democrats need to be nicer to Trump voters because they’re not all racists and misogynists etc. Kristof tells people like me that we shouldn’t lump all Trump voters together, their anger is understandable because the modern economy has left them behind, and on and on. This is typical stuff for Kristof, and, as usual, he’s wrong (not about everything, but about this topic). In fact, if anyone is being patronizing to Trump voters, it’s guys like Kristof. Here’s why. Kristof and others persist in telling liberals like me that we need to understand Trump voters better. Get out of our supposedly elite east coast bubble and get to know the people of the heartland. We are told that we need to be solicitous of their economic fears and anxieties and about how they’ve been left behind. And if only we did, we would understand why they voted for Trump. Balderdash. While I can understand their worries, there was no need to vote for a bigoted, sexist, ignorant narcissist like Trump. There were alternatives. If they wanted a Republican, they could have voted for Kasich, Bush, Graham or Paul. If they wanted a real fire-breathing populist, they could have thrown their support behind Bernie Sanders. And in the general election, they could have voted for Hillary Clinton, who would have preserved their access to health care, and social security, and to high quality public education, and clean air and water. But instead they voted for Trump. Economic anxieties alone did not warrant a vote for Trump, especially when there were plenty of alternatives available. I can grant that Kristof is probably right that not all Trump voters are themselves racist, sexist, xenophobic etc. But every last one of them was willing to tolerate racism, sexism, xenophobia, and all-around pig ignorance when they cast their votes. All of these Trumpian qualities were on full display throughout the election, so they can’t say they didn’t know about them. They knew, but they voted for Trump anyway. I’m sorry, but “I’m a really good person, and you would see that if you just got to know me, but, yeah, I did vote for an obviously unqualified bastard to be president, but I had reasons” just doesn’t cut if for me. And they are responsible for their own votes. Anyone who voted for Trump and is now surprised at how he has governed just wasn’t paying attention during the campaign, and they have themselves to blame for that, not me. It’s not my job to educate you, it’s your job to educate yourself. Why is it that people like Kristof say that urban liberals like me need to get a better understanding of middle-American Trump voters, but never the reverse? Why don’t they think that Trump voters have an obligation to understand me? I’ll tell you why. Because deep down, people like Kristof don’t really believe that Trump voters have the intellectual capacity to understand the motivations of anyone outside of their small cultural sphere. Sophisticated, educated people like me (and like Nick Kristof, by the way) have the capacity to understand Trumpites, but Kristof obviously believes that they can’t be expected to understand people like me. So now who’s being patronizing? I, at least, have enough respect for Trump voters to treat them like adults by holding them responsible for their own votes. I didn’t make them vote that way; they chose their candidate and now they are responsible for what he does. Not me. To say otherwise would be truly patronizing.


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