Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Enthusiasm Gap

From a comment on Facebook:
"Much of this country is extremely frustrated by the inability of the government to take care of the middle and lower class. Hillary represents to a lot of people the class responsible for that failure. That was working against her from the very start and she never addressed it to the American people in a way that was convincing. She simply didn't represent a meaningful change in the states where it mattered. That's why her vote totals were lower than Obama's. The data basically tells you people just didn't show up where they needed to for her."

Meh. Maybe? I mean, you switch from a charismatic 40-something president to a... seventy-something? ...woman, you're going to have an enthusiasm gap. You nominate a candidate who's talking about policy and what can actually be done instead of making "bold" promises that nobody could possibly keep, you're going to have an enthusiasm gap. I'm not sure you can blame Hillary Clinton for that, especially since I'd generally consider a realistic outlook and a desire to present it honestly as, well, Things That Should Be Virtues.

But those virtues cost her votes. That's not all that cost her votes; belonging to the same party as the encumbent also cost her votes, being a woman cost her votes, years of Republican demonization cost her votes, agreeing that Black Lives Matter actually had a point cost her votes.

It isn't just an enthusiasm gap. It's also a perspective gap. Those of the Trump voters that I've actually spoken to (and admittedly, that's a small-as-hell sample size) not only genuinely thought that she was lying, corrupt, and definitely guilty of *something* even if we hadn't quite found out what yet. They also thought that Washington was hopelessly corrupt, even while they cheerfully voted Republican up and down the ticket. They thought that minorities were imagining racism, or maybe manufacturing examples of it to gain advantage for themselves. They genuinely believed that Trump was a bold outsider, and as such was the only person who stood any chance of "draining the swamp".

I don't know how to argue with that. I don't know how to react when someone presents me with "facts" that seem self-evidently wrong, but are just as self-evidently right to them. I don't know where to go when we can't even agree on how to decide on what actually constitutes a fact.

I'm not in touch with the ones who voted for Trump on the basis of open, proud racism. The ones I've spoken to seem, instead, simply to be blind to it: it's horrible, so naturally nobody would actually *do* that, so naturally minorities et al must be making it up. They're not bad people; they just want to get along... and that's precisely the problem: (what I see as) their blind spot is going to hurt an awful lot of my friends and co-workers, and possibly them too, if Paul Ryan gets his way.

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