I haven’t posted in a while because I have no particular insights on the Coronavirus, which has been the virtually exclusive topic on most people’s minds. With a perception that the course of the virus and peoples’ attitudes toward policies to address it will remain volatile for some time, I simply have had little to say.
Also, the presidential election has been in stasis: Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee and Bernie Sanders has embraced unreservedly the need to win. Biden faces some difficult challenges on messaging without appearing to be posturing for political gain, and the convention, campaigning, and the realities of voting are all challenging but I have no particular insights to offer on any of that at the moment.
Here’s what I do want to say now: The 2020 election will pivot more on turnout than prior elections because of the complexities of process. It is therefore imperative that Democrats mobilize our vote but also that we avoid helping Trump and his allies mobilize theirs. Whenever we act like the party of elites – individually as well as collectively – we are helping Trump.
I understand the temptation to castigate the people who protest because they are putting everyone – not just themselves – at greater risk by congregating. However, those who overreact – and call them stupid – are putting all of us at greater risk by helping Trump mobilize right-wing support and increasing sympathy for the protests.
For the record, the protestors are right that their freedom of assembly is abrogated by restrictions on the number of people who may congregate. They are also right that they are being asked to suffer economically as a result of actions of governments that many do not support.
There are several ways of disagreeing with what they are doing that do not feed it or make opposition to it an issue on its own. Wisconsin operatives are suggesting that the protests are a partisan effort and the Mayor of Madison is saying they are manufactured, as reported in Reid Epstein’s excellent New York Times article https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/23/us/politics/wisconsin-coronavirus-protests.html, which also shows that those organizing the protests recognize the danger in their looking like the political ones. There is also the option to say that while people certainly should have the right to protest, we hope they recognize that they may be putting their neighbors and coworkers at risk as well.
When those who oppose the protests call protestors stupid or crazy, as many have on social media, you are making it easier to mobilize against a party – the Democrats – that many believe harbors people who think others are stupid, crazy, or otherwise deplorable in comparison to themselves.
Social distancing helps contain the virus. When voluntary, it is also an economic privilege. The personal and financial costs of staying home are hardly the same for all of us. Many people are torn between the health necessity and very serious personal economic costs. Don’t help make the protestors point by raising the flag of your own privilege. And don’t help Trump make the point that anyone needs liberation by your displaying heavy-handed self-righteousness.
Trump’s presidency is a tragedy. It is costing tens of thousands of lives. It has wrenched the country and deepened cleavages of race, class, geography and gender. It has tarnished and perhaps destroyed our nation’s reputation in the world. Democratic voters have chosen a candidate who promises healing, calm, reliance on expertise in making policy decisions, and a re-birth of respect for people and their views. He may not have always been my first choice, but he is now. Let’s not make it harder for him.
4 thoughts on “Just don’t call them stupid, please…”
Diane, What a timely post. I recently told my husband that the pandemic (in particular, Trump’s handling of the Federal response) had created a visceral struggle in me. Up to now, I had been successfully keeping an open mind to his supporters’ perspectives (not easy in our liberal bubble, but doable). That changed when far-right voices started trashing Dr. Fauci as a Hilary Clinton supporter, my mother kept talking about her high hopes for hydroxychloroquine, and Michigan protesters demanded, “Give Me Liberty or Covid-19.” This past week, our president suggested that covid-19 scientists should investigate “disinfecting” human bodies like inanimate surfaces. Anyone who took hope in his comments aren’t stupid, they are desperate and fearful. Your clear-headed logic, with practical suggestions for framing our differences restored some to rationality to my brain. I don’t want to help Donald Trump to get reelected in any way, shape, or form.
I struggle with this too, having many relatives, employees and acquaintances who are republican–my friends are pretty exclusively democrats.
For me it’s a distinction between politically stupid and just stupid. All these republicans are politically stupid, no matter the other qualities that I value them for.
We’re all stupid in some ways and smart in others. But Thumper lovers ARE politically stupid. Period.
Interest in politics and policy is not an obligation – I am pretty stupid about a lot of things that are important to other people…like football…