I can’t say I’ve ever spent much time in, say, Mississippi or wherever, but I can definitely say that, as a born-in-Berkeley-lives-in-Cambridge lifelong progressive, I’ve known elite-status Democrats all my life and my impression of them is not “principled”. Maybe the average Trump voter is worse, I don’t know because I haven’t met them, but to me the average young intellectual liberal is mercenary, tribal, and prone to believing in ludicrous narratives.
Your experience growing up was different than mine. I’m far too well acquainted with Trump’s base. Regardless of either of our personal experiences, the numbers bear out what I’m saying with regard to who votes with more information, who is more educated, and which bunch are more backwards and flagrantly racist.
They believed that Trump was literally Hitler and was going to throw minorities into concentration camps and was going to nuke the world. They believe in free speech, unless Ann Coulter or Milo Yiannopoulos or Charles Murray happens to be speaking, at which point out comes the pepper spray.
This is starting to be a straw man, with you taking your perceptions of various liberals you have known and somehow creating your own “ludicrous narrative” that people are out, en masse, trampling on free speech as a matter of course. Protesting alt-right speakers is, itself, a form of free speech. I take no issue with college students protesting speakers who promulgate anti-intellectualism and lies. If one person uses pepper spray, that’s assault and not protected by free speech, but it does not invalidate the right of thousands of other protestors to protest against hate-mongers.
They believe in compassion towards the less fortunate, unless those less fortunate happen to think that Trump is a better bet than letting globalization suck their communities dry for another ten years.
[You can definitely argue that Trump isn’t going to change this trend, but he was the only one saying he would try, rather than simply mocking them.]
Compassion toward Trump voters is about trying to understand what series of events led to them being the way they are today, and looking for ways to rectify a system that enabled this clown to not only be a viable candidate, but to win. When millions of people are desperate, deluded, or morally bankrupt enough to vote for Trump, that’s a problem for all of us. It suggests massive flaws in our entire political and economic structure.
To give some flavor, here’s an actual post from one of my Facebook friends after the election: “The scum of America have spoken and they have chosen this monster.” Scum! And this guy wondered why they didn’t want to vote for his team, which has been continuously shitting on them from a great height for at least an entire generation!
What one anonymous guy on the internet thinks is largely irrelevant to anything.
[Ok, before I go further, not all or even most of my friends share this perspective, but enough do, and my social circle tends to self-select for political moderation — so the typical young intellectual liberal is likely more radical then them. And regardless, the crazies do the talking and indoctrinating (see Session #24, “multicultural stories and activities for kids”) and everyone else keeps their heads down. And the tone taken by, say, Colbert on the Late Show says everything about how we as a class view them as a class.]
I am in the same economic class as a majority of American voters in both parties. I am not in the same economic class as Colbert. I would say most of our problems stem from Colbert’s cohort, not my own. It’s one thing to be the unfortunate soul born in some racist backwater in Kentucky or into the streets of St. Louis, but it’s quite another to sit atop a class structure that creates these conditions of inequity and chastise or deride those at the bottom. For every Colbert, there’s an O’Reilly (or, at least, whoever replaces him) on the other side, punching down at the less fortunate.
As for “more educated”, having gone through it myself I regard modern blue-state education to be no more than classic indoctrination with regards to its political aspects. I have had precisely one Republican teacher, and many communist teachers. My high school had a “Diversity Coordinator” named Tigress, and an art teacher who proudly painted anti-capitalist murals bearing violent imagery. Maybe my high-school education was a rather extreme one, but it was an elite community — virtually all of us went to top-rated colleges, and I have no doubt that in aggregate our current and future influence on American culture and policy is orders of magnitude above average.
That you have had few Republican teachers has little to do with education and more to do with Republican hostility toward education. Teachers have little incentive to vote Republican, and professional intellectuals, artists, and scientists have little incentive to support a party that actively undermines the arts and sciences.
This also, again, speaks to the peculiarity of your upbringing. I came up in a vastly different community, and I had far more than one Republican teacher. I even had more than one evangelical teacher, the thought of which may seem even more mind-blowing to you than it was to me.
That said, I do agree that the education system is flawed and, at least in my experience, is far more geared toward indoctrination and routinization than it is about enlightment. But, education extends beyond what is credentialed and approved. It stems from intellectual curiosity and the gathering of information from many sources, and when we say voters are low information, we are saying they are not acquainted with facts. You don’t have to go to college to know facts.
Being anti-intellectual in the sense of being against pompous elites is different than being anti-intellectual in the sense of diminishing the importance of facts and knowledge, but Republican rhetoric has fused these two into one thing, such that it is virtuous among Republicans to not only hate the professional class of scientists, for example, but also hate science. You are falling for the same trap, conflating intellectuals with intellectualism.
In this sense, establishment political rhetoric on both sides has conspired to create an electorate with a broken epistemology. This is current and ongoing, and while Democrats are certainly complicit, it has been a cornerstone of Republicanism, at least since Reagan, and has only been amplified in the neoconservative era.
Furthermore, you wrote that “not every Republican is an ignorant, racist hillbilly, but virtually all ignorant, racist hillbillies who do vote, vote Republican”. This is true, but you’re rather ignoring the mirror statement that “not every Democrat is an ignorant, racist gangbanger, but virtually all ignorant, racist gangbangers who do vote, vote Democrat”, which happens to also be true.
Not if we consider the police ignorant, racist gangbangers. Not if we consider Energy Transfer Partner thugs ignorant, racist gangbangers. Not if we consider the KKK ignorant, racist gangbangers.
The parallel I want to draw is that your “ignorant, racist hillbillies” are often those caught in a different raw deal, with rampant unemployment, social decline (to the extent of skyrocketing suicide rates) and drug addiction in their communities, and have simply taken the obvious step of voting against the party and social class holding them in active contempt, and for the only candidate who seemed to give a flying fuck about their condition. Your blithe dismissal of them as, effectively, stupid (“ignorant, racist, low-information” — do I detect a whiff of that glorious contempt?) might hold some small power of explanation as to their voting preferences.
That’s one narrative. Another narrative would be that they voted for the only candidate who seemed to give a flying fuck about maintaining white supremacy. Yet another narrative would be that vast numbers of miserable people who hate Washington and want to watch the world burn voted for the candidate most likely to deliver that outcome.
We can sit around and make up theories about why hillbillies voted for Trump, but it does little good in solving the problem that they did, in fact, vote for Trump. The fact that large numbers of people were in a position to think that was a good idea signifies large problems in American society that extend beyond the hills of West Virginia and into the offices of Hollywood producers, the highest floors of Manhattan bank buildings, and the halls of Congress.
You have correctly identified a liberal archetype among your circle which represents why I am not a Democrat and not a liberal, because, even if a larger proportion of Democrats than Republicans do have principles, establishment Democratic tribalism and half-measures are not helpful in creating a society where nobody would vote for a guy like Trump, and that’s really what the goal should be. A vote for someone like Trump by anyone is a bad outcome, but instead of blaming the voter, intellectualism demands that you figure out how things got to that point in the first place.