I have a Trump supporter on my Facebook. Not just any Trump supporter, that Trump supporter. Every post I make is an opportunity for her to rail against liberals and recite the talking points from her favorite sites. She has so much to share; I suspect I’m her only “liberal” friend. Therefore I’m lucky enough to have her share it with me. To her Trump is God and savior, he can do no wrong. He is here to save the country from the scourge of liberalism. It’s a radical idea.
No less than a dozen people have asked me to go ahead and block her. A lot of individuals were defriended or blocked following the election. Politics is increasingly emotional today, with disagreement taken as personal affronts. Plus the personal space afforded from being online allows us to say some nasty things that we wouldn’t say to each other in public. My Facebook Trump friend wouldn’t say the juvenile insults to me in person. At least, that’s what I think.
I keep my Trump Facebook friend because blocking her is part of the reason Trump won. She says offensive things, and I have an inclination to point out her offensiveness and try to speak to her better side. But that’s a fault of mine. Trump won because people didn’t care that he was offensive. His offensive qualities and statements, his inconsistencies and insults, his Twitter trolling, his lack of policies; all of this offensiveness were not that offensive to a significant portion of this country. Now people said they were offended sure, that’s why the polls were so bad for him, but in the privacy of their homes and voting booths they weren’t. And, given the low turnout of Democrats and all voters in general, you can also assess that the public at large was not as offended by Trump either. I was one of those people who thought just showing campaign ads of Trump being Trump would offend people’s decency enough that they would vote for anyone else. I believed that a candidate bragging about grabbing the pussy of married women would offend enough people. I thought his Russian obsession would at least alert a lot of people. I was wrong. All was excused for a few impossible promises and some heartwarming American exceptionalism. Trump is the traveling snake oil salesman who tells you exactly what you want to hear and we believe him, and defend him, and forgive, ignore, don’t care about his past, current, and future transgressions.
I was wrong because I don’t watch Fox News, Americas most watched cable network, where everything one side does is defended or excused, and the other side is demonized. (I’d bring up Fox’s rival MSNBC, for completeness of argument, but look at the ratings, there’s no actual rivalry there.) I was wrong because I don’t watch reality TV where points are made by stars based on their ability to lob the best insult, not necessarily possess the best quality.
So I need my Trump supporter now more than ever. I got comfortable under Obama. I thought we turned the corner and learned some lesson in intellectualism and critical thought. I thought we, as a nation, would be offended by populism and offensiveness. We have made some progress on these fronts but not nearly enough. Angry radicalization, conspiracy theories, and anti-intellectualism is a very real threat to our country. Cancer, and one we cannot treat without facing.
My Trump supporter reminds me of how far we have to go. And if we are going to continue on a progressive path, even if we are to take a more conservative path but still address the real issues that are the seat of her anger, we need to know there are people like her out there. And that’s why I keep her.