Everyone is responsible for Donald Trump being president except the racists who voted for him, and exactly who deserves the most blame depends on which liberal you ask. The latest reason we are stuck with the most incompetent and deranged chief executive in US history, according to one of the most prominent voices in progressivism, is you.
Even before the electoral apocalypse of Nov. 8, 2016, and certainly since, Hillary Clinton supporters accused anyone who voted for a third-party candidate of abetting a Trump victory. Aside from badgering a voter into supporting a candidate they strongly disagree with on key issues (a tactic on which both sides of the two-party system are dependent), such a blanket condemnation reveals ignorance about basic elements of our voting system, namely the Electoral College: a liberal Alabamian voting for Jill Stein did zero damage to the Democratic candidate in the Heart of Dixie or nationally.
Earlier this month, Clinton echoed the cries of many resisters by claiming she was “on the way to winning until a combination of [FBI Director] Jim Comey’s letter on Oct. 28 and Russian WikiLeaks raised doubts.” This presumptive posture is what contributed to Clinton underestimating the rise of Barack Obama in 2008, cheering for Trump to win the GOP primary with the assumption it would guarantee a general election victory, and bypassing states like Michigan and Wisconsin while “on the way” to the White House.
To her credit, Clinton accepts that ultimately she is responsible for leading a failed campaign, but fretting over the minuscule wedge of voters swayed by the FBI and WikiLeaks mitigates how white supremacy revivals passed for campaign rallies, and Trump’s winning message was ridding the country of Mexicans, Muslims and any other minority who had forgotten their proper place in America.
Given her political genetics, it’s understandable that Clinton would avoid calling more than 62 million Americans bigots (or at least active in bigotry prevailing). But a rising number of folks who call themselves progressive, most recently Bill Maher, have laid blame for Trump’s victory not at the feet of those who voted for him, but other progressives.
“Ease up on the identity politics,” Maher advised the Democratic Party via an interview on CNN. “They pulled off quite a neat trick in 2016: they made white people, who are still the majority in this country, feel like a minority – or at least enough of them to swing the election.”
Maher’s analysis turns into political strategy the adage that in today’s America, it is worse to call someone a racist than it is to be a racist. It also ignores what a conservative panelist on Maher’s HBO show recognized as early as August 2015: Trump was transforming the GOP into “the party of white identity politics.”
Of course, white identity politics are nothing new, as evidenced by the consistent correlation between maps showing voting patterns and ones demarcating Civil War borders. Nor is this the first time Maher has peered down from his privilege to scold or mock black activists, transgender individuals and others who care about their existence as passionately as Maher cares about climate change.
Was the civil rights movement entirely a niche group ignoring the needs of the country by focusing on its own inequality? Which LGBT advancement would stretch beyond “identity politics” to qualify as an appropriate, mainstream progressive issue? Does it matter that while the Democrats’ leader, President Barack Obama, was granting LGBT soldiers access to the military and protecting transgender students, he was also rescuing the US economy, fighting ISIS, trying to save the environment and all sorts of other things that prove he didn’t have tunnel vision?
Maher’s statement is the liberal version of the “white genocide” paranoia on the right, where any suggestion that minorities are discriminated against is considered anti-white propaganda. As with his reckless Islamophobia, Maher offers intellectual sanctuary to bigots trying to purify their prejudice, and helps explain why so many white supremacists awarded one of their own with the presidency.