It’s time for my quadrennial post about politics, which I normally avoid because arguments give me migraines, but then again, pretty much everything gives me migraines, so here goes.
This morning I read an article in the NY Times about Trump supporters, and it really got to me. It got to me so much, I have to say something. Probably nothing that hasn’t been said before, but what I want to say is:
Conservatives, I hear you.
Not what you expected? OK, I admit it, I subscribe to the NY Times, and not just for the crossword. So yeah, I don’t always agree with you. (I don’t agree with all liberals either.)
But I hear you.
I hear you that it’s frustrating and insulting to be called a “white supremacist” just because you voted for Trump. I think true white supremacists exist, but are mostly rare. I believe that a political party should not be defined by its extremes (“Republican” ≠ “White Supremacist”, “Democrat” ≠ “Antifa”).
I hear you that you are not a racist. But I admit that I probably have some racist ideas. After reading How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, I’ve come to see that racism is entrenched in our laws, our history, and our culture. It’s a new way of thinking about racism. Thinking “being a ‘racist’ is a Really Evil Thing” is, by Kendi’s definition, a racist idea, in that it makes it harder to fight racism. Racism is much, much more than simple prejudice. It can exist without hate. It cannot exist without self-interest. I agree with Kendi that policies that perpetuate the legacy of racial disparities are, in fact, racist, even if those policies never mention the word “race”, even if those policies have good intentions, even if they have Black supporters. I think in order to overcome entrenched disparities, laws that are “fair and equal and colorblind,” although appealing in theory, are not enough. I hear you, that you might not agree with me on all of these points. My ideas are still evolving. I hear you, and I will listen, and maybe together we will learn, because I certainly don’t have all the answers.
I hear that you love our country. I do too. There’s a lot to love about it.
I hear that you are not “xenophobic” because you believe illegal immigration is, well, illegal. Can’t exactly argue with that (although we can differ about how to deal with it).
I hear you that your ideals are important to you. Mine are too.
I hear you that you are not against abortion because you hate women, but because you cherish life. I have my own reasons for wanting abortion to be safe and legal, which maybe even differ from most liberals’, and I’m happy to talk about that if you’re interested, and more importantly I’m happy to listen to you if you want to share your beliefs. I really don’t think belittling your beliefs about God or morality is a winning strategy for anyone. It’s mean and insulting, and it’s not the way to reach common ground (and I do believe we can someday reach that ground, that we can have a country where abortion is legal but exceedingly rare).
I hear you that you don’t like protests, not necessarily for their message, but for when they erupt into violence and looting. That’s a heck of a way to undermine a message, and I’m with you on that.
(Protesters: I also hear you, and your anger, and your desire for change. I get that you are equally frustrated by the violence. I tend to be a moderate, but honestly that’s where some of my more racist ideas come from. Being afraid of radical change is not always the best way to make bad things better. There are times when the solution is not in the middle—non-violent protests can be very effective.)
We may not always agree about the details, or the right way to solve our country’s problems. You don’t even have to agree to disagree, you’re allowed to just disagree.
I’ll listen no matter what.