On negativity and reaching out to snowflakes

Let’s first be clear about who’s a “snowflake” and who isn’t.

Much of the country cares about immigrant families. Even if they want to keep everyone out and have even stronger border security than we currently have, they don’t want families separated, and they don’t want to absurdity of 3-year-olds, wondering if they’ll ever see their mothers again, standing in front of a judge.

Much of the country cares about sexual-abuse survivors, and they care more about Christine Blasey Ford being harassed out of her home than they do serial liar Brett Kavanaugh being questioned on said lies. (Funny how many — not all, mind you — of the same people who are outraged about Kavanaugh’s “harassment” didn’t feel the same way about Bill Clinton, whose affair with Monica Lewinsky was far less relevant to his fitness to be in office than Kavanaugh’s offenses and whose alleged perjury was far less convincing than Kavanaugh’s.)

Much of the country cares about our standing in the world being undermined by a bully with a Twitter account in the White House.

Much of the country cares about the poor, the uninsured and a wage gap that continues to grow by leaps and bounds. The Democrats, to be sure, never did much about the wage gap, but they’re being held accountable for it by a new wave of younger candidates. Republican candidates are not.

Much of the country cares about the truth.

Much of the country cares about the rights of journalists to do their jobs without being assaulted or murdered.

Now a lot of this “much of the country” crowd actually benefits personally from GOP policy. Low taxes help out your “liberal elites” as much as they help your local hedge-fund managers (some of whom are actually “liberal elites” themselves, or at least concerned about the direction of the country and its short-term bets on deficit spending and dying industries).

But they care.

And for that, they’re labeled “snowflakes.”

Meanwhile, you have people who are backing Trump and his GOP lackeys because … um … let’s see … ah, here we go …

Because liberal elites are mean to them. 

Liberal (and progressive) people tell them their beliefs are wrong … and they freak out.

Senators do their jobs to try to hold Brett Kavanaugh accountable … and they say they’re more motivated to vote Republican because of it.

Bottom line: They’re afraid to face the facts. Instead of facing the reality that crime is a complex matter, they find scapegoats. Instead of facing the reality of climate change, they strain to find any scientist who tells them it’ll be OK — or maybe they convince themselves God will fix it all. Some of them know Trump has taken lying to new levels, lying about things that aren’t even in the slightest dispute (remember Sweden?), but they don’t care because it’s comforting to be in that alternative reality.

And yes, some of them are shying away from a complex world by craving the “simpler time” of their childhoods — maybe convincing themselves they’re not being racist or sexist or homophobic even though the world of the past was “simpler” because people of other gender identities or colors knew their place. (And because manufacturing jobs were plentiful, an unrealistic long-term view today because of automation.)

So tell me: Who’s the snowflake? 

Let’s be sure we understand here: A majority of people in this country — by popular vote, by any poll you can find — are worried about other people, and yes, that stresses them out. A minority of people in this country fret about feeling invalidated because their views don’t hold up under any scrutiny by the media, academia or the overwhelming majority of educated people.

And the handful of educated people supporting this minority are doing so out of naked self-interest. Tax cuts for the very rich. Cozy corporate jobs for those who ignore the evidence and come up with screeds denying humanity’s role in climate change. Easy cable pundit gigs by networks desperate for anyone who can defend this nonsense with a straight face.

So what do the rest of us do?

As I’ve said before, we can’t deal with the hard-core cultists. We simply have to limit their damage. Maybe when they lose their enablers within the Republican Party, they’ll start to question their beliefs privately. Maybe.

But we need to win over everyone else, which is a challenge because it forces you to be humble and to be somewhat nice to people who have abhorrent or unsubstantiated views.

So we the majority (which, I should point out, isn’t limited to either wing of the Democratic Party and includes a great number of people with justified skepticism of the Democratic establishment) need to strike a balance between these two notions:

First: Fighting back against the movement of the Overton window. We don’t need to let white supremacists into polite society. Journalists need to drop the notion of “both sides.”

(Profanity alert here …)

Second: Patiently associating with people who aren’t deep into the weeds. As hard as it is to believe, there are people who have been voting for Trump, McConnell and other reprehensible politicians who are good people who’ve simply been hoodwinked. We’re all hoodwinked at some point. I grew up a creationist homophobe. I got over it. If I had been left to rot in an echo chamber, maybe I wouldn’t have done so.

Consider the effects of travel and meeting people outside your circle. It’s easy to hate Muslims when you don’t know any. It’s more difficult when you work alongside Muslims and see that they’re humans just like you are. I grew up with negative stereotypes of Northeast “elites” until I went to school with them and started working alongside them — now I realize they’re hard-working, empathetic people.

Along those lines, here’s a warning …

Hey, Millennials — drop the judgmental bullshit on Twitter. 

If someone’s using the wrong word, quit treating them like they need to be thrown through the Overton window. Quit turning life into a contest to be the most woke.

If you are the most woke, congratulations. You will have judged everyone else out of your life. And there’s no way in hell they’re going to vote with you.

So we have a tough line to walk. We have to engage with a lot of people while refusing to validate the extremes of the “other side” on race, climate change, inequitable economics, etc.

But we can do it. Because we aren’t snowflakes.

For more writing on this election, see “Why we should reject the liberal label” and the catch-all “Why you have to vote.” Then vote.

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