Soothing the anger of Trump supporters must not become the progressive Empathy Test. (More)

“We have a long-term responsibility”

So begins E.J. Dionne’s latest column at the Washington Post:

The urgent task of progressives in this election is to defeat Donald Trump. But even if we succeed, we have a long-term responsibility: to understand why Trump happened and to face up to how failures on the left and center-left have contributed to the flourishing of a new far right, not only in the United States but also across Europe.

Dionne tosses a passing fillip to the reality that Trumpism is “a creation of the conservative movement’s radicalization and the Republican leadership’s pandering to extreme views over many years,” and then turns to the ‘failures’ of “the left:”

The grievances of Trump supporters have been well-covered this year (although it should not have taken both the Trump and Bernie Sanders campaigns to bring them to the fore). Many voters fear that the social and economic world that has defined their lives is irretrievably passing away.

The left is in trouble precisely because it has not responded adequately to this fear or managed to tame the forces that produced it. This is not just a political mistake but also a moral failing.

It’s not all about racism and sexism and nativism, Dionne insists. Trump supporters have Real Concerns:

Technological change has undercut incomes and living standards for a significant share of our fellow citizens. An influx of immigrants has shocked certain communities, leading them to experience a genuine sense of displacement and powerlessness in the face of change they cannot control. There are struggles for power as new groups gain political ascendancy and older groups, once a majority, become minorities. There are also battles over material resources as newcomers are perceived as taking jobs (sometimes for lower wages) from groups that once dominated particular fields.

Ack. Okay. Enough.

“The condescending self-serving progressives elites”

I appreciate empathy as much as anyone. But that starts with listening, and crediting people with meaning exactly what they say, as this Washington Post reader explains:

After reading this article it is becoming clear why Europe and now the US are going the why they are. The condescending self-serving progressives elites have been living in their own little world for too long and now it is time to pay the piper.

Or this one:

“Progressives” is a rather arrogant and elite assumption and isn’t that part of the problem? the tendency of “progressives” to look down their noses at people who are different from them…who hold different but not wrong values… It is funny that E.J wrote “Progressives regularly preach empathy and insist that the best way to solve a problem is to deal with its underlying causes. ” they may preach empathy (really? where? “they cling bitterly to their guns and religion” is that empathy? ) but it isn’t put into practice. rather people whose values and backgrounds are different are regularly looked down upon. indeed there was the entire progressive discussion about not understanding how people in Kansas could vote against “progressives” because “progressives” will take care of them via govt programs etc. You need to go back and wipe the smugness off your face as you consider yourself a “progressive” with “empathy” and realise you have a long way to go in the empathy department and if you truly represent “progressives” then that will be a sad day for the US if the “progressives” truly are in charge. You don’t listen to people but only want to preach solutions.

Thing is, President Obama proposed – and Hillary Clinton and other Democrats are already proposing – policies to create jobs, boost workers’ real incomes, and make education more affordable so displaced workers can enter new career fields … the solutions Dionne proposes.

And those are not the kinds of solutions Trump voters want.

“OK, I want you to really understand something here”

Consider this equally well-meaning article by Jonathan Weaver at The Good Men Project:

I get it. Angry white guy is exhausting and distinctly unsympathetic. There is much to hate about hatred, but that can only yield more of the same. If we can bring ourselves to recognize bigotry, gun culture, misogyny and white male rage as merely the outward symptoms of a very real fear, we can meet fear with empathy, compassion and even love.

Weaver at least confronts the real cause, aggrieved privilege:

The racism we see in America today is inseparable from the broken promise of a “birthright” and privilege, and the scaling back of hopes and expectations as wages decline. As in pre-WWII Germany, racism whispers in the ears of white men, “It’s not your fault you can’t provide for your family, that you’re not going to do as well as your father did; it’s THEIR fault!” and it points it’s bony finger at women who’ve gone to work (“because if you were man enough, she wouldn’t HAVE to work, taking a job away from a man.”), Or at immigrants. Or anyone else who is “different.”

And readers shred him for it:

Minorities demanding subsidies, reparations, welfare, affirmative action, special treatment. They demand this stuff because “the white man is keeping me down.”

Look at the women. Look at feminism. They demand subsidies and special treatment. They demand stuff because “the white man (patriarchy) is keeping me down.”

OK, I want you to really understand something here. Your average white guy is not doing that well. Your average white guy is not Bill Gates. He’s not Warren Buffet. He’s not holding political office. He’s just some shmuck trying to make a living at some job and enjoy what little time off he gets.

Then you tell the white guys, “hey, we’re going to tax your hard-earned income and give it to minorities and women because they complain a lot and we want their votes.”
White men are tired of being wailed on for crimes they did not commit. They are tired of their tax money being given out to people who not only have done nothing to deserve it, but given to people who actively hate them. They are tired of their culture being dismantled in the name of PC. They are angry because they are watching white people be destroyed in the slowest, most appalling way possible – from the inside out, and if they dare dissent, they are shouted into silence.

I can shoe a horse, rip apart an engine block and put it together again, hit a moving target at 500 yards, hunt my own food, live off the land if need be, and I built my home with my own hands. Tell me again how I need to learn to adapt. People like you don’t get people like me, and you never will. You call my masculinity toxic? I call you a pampered idiot with no useful skills.

The globalist want to show the white male like a dump person while the United States was founded by white people. The real american coulture [sic] is not Hollywood, obama the real american coulture is the pilgrims, the love for the work, family and the soil, private property and the right for gaving [having?]guns.

A woman can’t afford to take care of her children? Give her subsidies, grants and free cash for housing, college tuition and healthcare.

A man can’t afford to take care of his children? Give him a prison cell, a cold slap in the face and lessons on manning up for women.

If men were on average let off as easy as women under our “equal justice” system, most men sent to prison would never have been sent.

There’s a difference between anger and being utterly repulsed by the hypocrisy and double standards against white men by women, minorities and the privileged, ignorant white knight boot lickers that support them. “White Male Anger” is a meme used to excuse and cover up the increasingly obvious, culturally accepted, prolific racism against and hatred of white men by women and minorities. The handful of privileged white knights that run the show globally – in order to get elected/re-elected and maintain their power – give women and minorities whatever they demand – but only in majority white countries.

Maybe the best tool is to listen. Too many self righteous people on the left feel that they have it all figured out. What me wrong? He feels he is disadvantaged through race and gender based affirmative action. He understands giving people who need it a hand up and agrees. So why not create non-gender, non-race based affirmative action? No one is arguing against income based scholarship money or class rank. White men are told to shut up this is not discrimination, but when men ask what are we going to do about the education gap between men and women in this country? Where then is the affirmative action for men, they’re told we don’t need THAT gender based affirmative action. To use your words affirmative action becomes is tailored in a way that it becomes something that is simply against men. White men even more so.

I’ll pause for a dose of reality, courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics[:]

Asian Men…………$1147
White Men………….$914
Asian Women……..$907
White Women……..$742
Black Men…………..$696
Hispanic Men………$619
Black Women………$615
Hispanic Women….$581

[Data for 2nd Quarter 2016; table resorted by median income]

Asian-American men are the only demographic group whose median income is higher than that of white men. So please explain exactly how white men are being held down to benefit women and people of color?

I’ll wait.

I thought not.

“They’ve been feeding their base all kinds of crazy for years”

President Obama summarized it best, yesterday in Ohio:

Speaking at the Ohio Democrats’ annual dinner in Columbus on Thursday night, President Obama blasted Republicans for nurturing the sort of extreme thinking that led to Donald Trump’s political rise.
“But so the problem is not that all Republicans think the way this guy does. The problem is, is that they’ve been riding this tiger for a long time,” Obama said, referring to those who questioned whether he was born in the United States, those who called him “the antichrist” and subscribers to other conspiracy theories. “They’ve been feeding their base all kinds of crazy for years, primarily for political expedience.”
“This is in the swamp of crazy that has been fed over and over and over and over again,” Obama said to applause. “So the point is, if your only agenda is either negative – negative is a euphemism, crazy – based on lies, based on hoaxes, this is the nominee you get. You make him possible.”

It’s not just Republican leaders and candidates. There’s an entire Resentmentainment Industry catering to white male rage, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s even been mapped:

You can see that in a readable size here. If you’re curious, HBD stands for “Human Biodiversity,” the pseudoscience that angry white men offer to legitimize their racism and sexism.

Add to that map Fox News, Breitbart, InfoWars, and talk radio. Turns out telling white men how oppressed they are is very profitable.

So no, E.J. Dionne, empathy is not about pretending Trump supporters are angry about real problems that progressives already want to address. Empathy is about listening to them and crediting them with meaning exactly what they say.

And what they say is they’re being oppressed to benefit women and people of color. It matters not that income data show otherwise. Trump’s angry white men feel oppressed because the Resentmentainment Industry feeds and profits from their rage.

That is not “the left’s” problem to solve. It’s theirs, and theirs alone.


Photo Credit: Getty Images


Good day and good nuts