lydy: (me by ddb)
[personal profile] lydy
So, let's talk about adults, for a moment. You know the ones, the ones whose lives are perpetually in a tangle, and in the end, you shake your head and say, "Well, he's an adult."

That guy, that guy who cannot manage his financial situation. He's basically a good person, someone whose company you enjoy and who you would like to see happy. You've done what you can to help. Maybe you lent him money, maybe you sat down with him and developed a realistic budget. Maybe you listened to him describe exactly why it is that he can't seem to keep the whole financial thing together. Maybe you understand why he's making the choices he's making, and maybe you don't. Either way, at some point, you shake your head and say, "Well, he's an adult." You keep an eye out, though. When it's clear he's having trouble getting food on the table, you invite him over for dinner a couple times. Maybe you pay his heating bill, or fix his car. You do little things to make sure that he doesn't end up dead or in jail. But you also protect yourself. You don't lend him money, you don't get involved in any financial schemes he has, and you quietly warn mutual friends. If he's homeless, you put him up for a while, but you set limits and boundaries.

This is not a bad person, per se, but he's definitely making some pretty terrible choices when he could have made better ones. So you stop trying to protect him from all the consequences, just make sure there's enough of a safety net that the possibility exists that things can get better for him. You don't pay attention to his self-serving explanations, and you are really clear that you don't support those choices. Understanding why he's doing this to himself doesn't really change things. You protect yourself, and do what you can for him, but you don't enable his world-view. You probably can't stop him from believing what he believes, but you don't have to buy into it, either. And if you have any hope of him changing, it is in part by refusing to endorse his bizarre justifications for his actions.

Now, let's talk about Trump voters. I am enormously tired of the call to "understand" the Trump voter. They're adults. They made some pretty bad choices. I am going to continue to fight for various safety-nets which will benefit them, because even though they did something incredibly stupid, they shouldn't die of unaddressed medical needs, nor should they starve. But I really don't need to understand why they did what they did. Nor would it help in the least. I am not their therapist. I am just their co-citizen, living in the same world. And I don't think that "understanding" them will make a wet slap of difference. Assuming I did understand the exact emotional structures that led them to want to burn it all down. Then what? I should...let them burn it down? No, that's stupid. So, I continue to fight for a more peaceful and prosperous world, and I stop accepting their juvenile excuses for why they did what they did. They're adults. I think we should treat them like it.

As for winning their votes next cycle... If it is possible, and it may not be, it's going to be by being really clear what the consequences of their last set of votes was. I say, ignore all the think pieces about the resentment and feelings of abandonment that the Trump voters have. Don't care, am not their therapist or their mommy. If they're going to vote for racist policies against their own self-interests, there is literally nothing I am willing to do to fix that.

Date: 2017-03-10 09:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] apostle-of-eris.livejournal.com
Leaving them to stew in their own juices may sometimes be the only course left, but I'm much more concerned about the rest of us suffering their just desserts.

Date: 2017-03-10 10:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lydy.livejournal.com
I almost feel like you didn't read what I wrote. Of course I'm concerned that they're going to take us down with them. That's why I made my phone calls today, that's why we have to continue to fight for a better world. As for "leaving them to stew" that's...not exactly what I meant. They're adults. We need to hold them accountable for their actions, which means when bad things happen, to them or to us, we don't gloss over it, we don't agonize over the whys of their actions. Instead, we focus on the consequences, and move to ameliorate the damage as best we can. "Leaving them to stew" makes it sound like I want them to suffer. I don't. And I don't think anyone should. But I don't think we should accept responsibility for their bad behavior, either, which is what most of the "understand the Trump voter" pieces seem to suggest. They're adults. Let's treat them like it.

Date: 2017-03-11 01:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] apostle-of-eris.livejournal.com
I don't know how you treat someone like an adult when they categorically refuse to adult.

Sorry if I misread you. Some of my buttons are sore from getting pushed.

Date: 2017-03-11 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lydy.livejournal.com
I am sorry about your buttons. However, the first half of my post is about how one deals with an adult who refuses to adult, so I'm still wondering if you read what I wrote, or if you just disagree with what I wrote. I think trying not to enable while still providing a safety net is a hard balancing act, but does sometimes help people find their way, or find their way back. It remains true that a lot of times, it doesn't, and you just have to accept that adults just aren't going to adult.

Date: 2017-03-10 11:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreamshark.livejournal.com
You make a good point.

I think most of the people who are agonizing over "understanding the Trump voter" ARE in fact the people whose jobs it is to get their votes for the Democrats in 2018 (or liberal commentators who are rooting for that to happen). I listen to a lot of those commentators, so I kind of identify with the whole thing and find myself trying to figure it out too.

But you're absolutely correct - there's no reason that you (or I) have to worry about that.

Date: 2017-03-10 11:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lydy.livejournal.com
I feel like the people whose jobs are to get votes are also missing the point and asking the wrong questions. There's a core of Trump voters who are perfectly hopeless. They voted for bigotry and hatred, and the only way to court their vote is by catering to that. Hillary was right to call them a basket of deplorables, and I don't think we should walk away from that. It's that understanding that energizes important work, like fighting voter suppression and gerrymandering. That work is way more important than papering over naked racism with "economic insecurity."

The people that felt so frustrated that they thought burning it down was a good idea...them maybe you can reach. But I don't think there's any real use to being sympathetic about their weird conspiracy theories about how the government is hiding the good jobs from them. We have to be better at explaining what government is, and what it can do. The ACA is a great tool for that, if the Dems are smart. (And, well, the horse might learn to talk.) But I think we need to stop listening and start talking.

Date: 2017-03-11 12:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreamshark.livejournal.com
During the election cycle I was struck by what seemed to me to be a considerable overlap between the concerns of Trump supporters and Sanders supporters.

Date: 2017-03-11 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lydy.livejournal.com
The base concern, that the economic system isn't working for 90% of the population, is one of those undeniable facts on the ground. But the essential world view of the Trump supporters is that the government stole their jobs from them, while the essential view of the Bernie supporters is that the 1% stole their jobs from them. Trump supporters believe themselves to be "temporarily embarrassed millionaires" who have been hard done by, Bernie supporters believe that the rich people should hand over their ill-gotten gains. So, sure, they are reacting to the same objective problem, but their world views are actually miles apart. I am deeply suspicious of the ways in which we try to equate the two populations, I think it is actually a false narrative, a story built of correlation rather than causation. What causes one working class guy to blame immigrants, black people, and a faceless government, and another to blame the evils of unbridled capitalism is a question that we don't have good answers for.

Date: 2017-03-11 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreamshark.livejournal.com
Although I do rather like your quick thumbnail descriptions, I don't think either group is as homogeneous in their viewpoints as you suggest.

Date: 2017-03-12 12:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lydy.livejournal.com
I completely agree. There is a lot of variation. The thing I was kicking against was trying to act like the two populations have identical understanding and identical goals. I do not believe they do. The underlying problem is the same, but the reactions are very different. And in trying to kick against one stereotype, I created two more. Yay, me?

Date: 2017-03-10 11:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreamshark.livejournal.com
You make a good point.

I think most of the people who are agonizing over "understanding the Trump voter" ARE in fact the people whose jobs it is to get their votes for the Democrats in 2018 (or liberal commentators who are rooting for that to happen). I listen to a lot of those commentators, so I kind of identify with the whole thing and find myself trying to figure it out too.

But you're absolutely correct - there's no reason that you (or I) have to worry about that.

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