There’s a video making the rounds of Ann Coulter appearing on Bill Maher during the Republican primaries, in which she is asked who she thought had the best chance of winning the general election. “Of the declared ones? Right now? Donald Trump.” Then the audience howls with laughter. In fact, “howls with laughter” has never been a more appropriate description than it is in relation to this video.
But think about that for a moment. Is that a funny statement? Forget what you feel about the election at this moment and consider this: Would you have “howled with laughter” at that statement a year ago? I mean, a chuckle, maybe; perhaps even a guffaw. But the sustained, freak-the-fuck-out cackle on this video? Nah, man. That’s not a normal laugh. That’s the laugh of people trying to prove something. That’s the laugh of condescending intelligence. “Thou doth protest too much,” said The Bard. And I say: that laugh, and all the opinions and things that go with it, are precisely the reason why Trump is president-elect.
Some would say, “That’s just a feeling,” “you don’t know that for a fact,” and “those laughs don’t feel that way to me.” But it doesn’t have to feel that way to everyone. I’m just saying that laugh feels that way to a lot of people. In an election that was all about feelings, this matters. If you voted for Hillary, then I’m guessing it was based on a feeling. A lot of people will say that Trump is a misogynist or a racist and present that as fact. But those are just feelings. One person’s racist is another person’s “guy who speaks his mind.” It’s an opinion that’s a completely valid one upon which to base your vote because you’re an American adult. So give that freedom of feeling to the other side.
I had another comic ask me a few nights ago if I “had spoken with” a family member who was voting for Trump. Had I had “the talk” with them yet? Like they were a child with a predilection for getting into cars with strangers. The question was insulting. Not because they disagreed with my family member, but because the person just assumed they didn’t have the intellect to come to a decision. That since I was in this liberal comic’s presence and was capable of having a conversation with full sentences, that I must be my family’s special ed teacher who walks them to class and re-explains the homework.
I can understand why someone would be shocked by a Trump win or even a Trump vote. I can understand if you think he’s a racist who preys on women. I can’t tell you how to feel. But if you think 60 million people voted for Trump because they hate black people and women, you’re simplifying it to a point of absurdity. 60 million people voted for Trump because they wanted to drain the swamp, and they didn’t care who they hired to do it. Honestly, if Bernie Sanders had been the democratic nominee, I think a fair amount of the people you’re calling racist vote for him. You can either accept that we live in a complex world where everyone acts on their own feelings that you can’t control, or you can keep telling people that their vote was “a disaster.”
But please try to understand the very act of proclaiming this a disaster is condescending to the people who voted for him; it’s a subtle “you’re stupid,” and that lack of empathy is the very thing that created Trump’s presidency. Call someone stupid once, they buy a Make America Great Again Hat. Call someone stupid for a year and they make sure to vote.
We stopped listening to people. We labeled them “racist,” “misogynist,” and “redneck” when they didn’t agree with us and we felt self-satisfied in our superior intelligence. We didn’t converse with them; we didn’t care about what they cared about. So now this is the revolution of the trodden that the liberals have always sought — it just didn’t happen on their terms; as if it ever would..