When Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election last month, I was just as shocked as anyone. Not because I thought Hillary Clinton was awesome (she’s far from it), but because I truly believed that most people, regardless of political leanings, would not support a guy with rhetoric like Trump’s to represent this country for the next four years. As far as I was concerned, either candidate winning wasn’t going to change much, as I see them both as two sides of the same crony capitalist coin.
Nevertheless, Trump’s victory via the Electoral College (the only thing that stands between the voters’ actual representation and special interest-funded rigging) gave us all a lot to think about, and the conclusion I have drawn actually amounts to something of a silver lining in all this bleakness:
The loonies of the left are losing.
It’s difficult sometimes to keep one’s fingers on the pulse of the overall American electorate, especially when living in a very blue state and attending a very liberal campus as I currently am. The ivory tower bubble certainly burst this past month, and I looked around and saw nothing but horror and confusion out of my fellow students. One girl actually said she didn’t know why more women didn’t vote for Hillary — as if merely being a woman herself should have been enough.
And while this may make me a bit of a jerk, I do somewhat find this all amusing. After all, Hillary Clinton is horribly corrupt, and the evidence proving it has been headline news perpetually for this entire past year. How did any of us think she would win despite that? How did I?
Because the “experts” told us she would. Because the polls seemingly showed an electorate that was completely behind Clinton and against Trump. But what those polls actually showed was something far more notable: They showed an electorate that was scared of what they perceived as the status quo, and so they gave the answers they thought would be safe to give. But in private, they all yearned for the ballot box, where they could vote for the candidate they felt actually represented them, and who promised to “drain the swamp” and end corruption on Washington.
While I still think by and large these people have been taken for a ride… I can’t say I blame them for feeling the way that they do. They didn’t vote for Trump; they voted against the system. A system that, for them, amounted to much more than just the expected amount of corruption. Indeed, for the Trump voters, by and large, they felt strangled by the very culture of overt political correctness and shaming of dissent that the modern left’s most vocal arbiters appeared to promulgate. Country-wide, this culture or neo-puritanism was expected to be followed, even in the areas in middle America that was completely disconnected from the context.
Personally, I am quite liberal on the social front. And yet, I am hopefully pragmatic enough to recognize that one-size-fits-all philosophy almost never works, and is largely unnecessary. Branding is important if one wants to be understood, and telling the working class white guy from Mississippi who struggles to put food on his family’s table every week through laborious, backbreaking work that he is “privileged” because of his skin color, rather than what economic class he exists in, will almost certainly make him feel misunderstood and cast aside. Do I think the “check your privilege” people intend on sounding bigoted and divisive themselves? No I do not. But I also think it has been incredibly shortsighted of them to assume that boiling their nuanced views down to a hashtag would be ubiquitously lauded.
And so, that demographic of person who exists within the liminality of not-quite-poor-but-not-quite-rich, and who lives in places where minorities are underrepresented and therefore do not have the same sort of representation as they do elsewhere, is not going to understand why “Black Lives Matter” isn’t followed by “Too,” or why “Check Your Privilege” isn’t instead written as “Count Your Blessings.” And the worst part of all of this is that people like myself, who believe in rebranding depending on which type of person one is talking to, and who strive to bridge the divide by having empathetic conversations with both sides… we are a rarity. Most people on both sides of this debate would rather get angrier rather than truly understand one another. And it has been no different, here. For years and years, the proto-Trump voter has been asking to have one of those conversations with the SJW left, and in response got little more than accusations of bigotry, shout-downs, and disownment.
What did the extreme leftists, who now seem to have become the most visible on the left, really expect to happen after all of that? When one calls everyone who doesn’t agree with them a racist, it waters down the issue of real racism and allows extremist groups on the other end of the political spectrum like the alt-right to creep up on us without us noticing. The left, in many ways, created the alt-right. They also created the average Trump voter, who was the Obama voter in many cases, merely four years ago. Because rather than have conversations and build bridges, they dug their heels in the sand, declared moral high ground, and recreated the world in their own image. Except, like all creation myths, there must always be a moment of reckoning that grounds the fantasy back to the harsh reality we actually live in. In this case, it was the 2016 election. The average Joe had had enough. And, unfortunately, even some good, honest-trying centrists like myself missed the mark. I never agreed with the left’s SJWs, but I at least empathize with many of their plights. I simply think less extremism is in order for any real progress to be had. And it would seem more people agree with me on that front than I realized.
So it really comes down to this, leftists: Either take this as a lesson learned and bring your platform back to sanity, or you will continue to lose election after election. Because now, there is no more guesswork, polls, or pundits to tell us what Americans want. The people themselves, stuck in the despondent cage of argumentum ad passiones, have spoken. And they want out.
This post was written by Micah J. Fleck.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.