How Many Damn Defenses of That Basket of Deplorables Do We Need?

Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images
Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

Last November, a majority of white people in America voted for a bigot for president. If you voted for a man who campaigned on xenophobia, racism, sexism and other strains of bigotry, you either share his prejudices or you are complicit in them. The former makes you an audacious racist; the latter, a bystander, which in and of itself is a racist act. Nothing about that reality has changed since Habanero Hitler was declared the winner of the 2016 presidential election or officially sworn in to office.


But in senseless fashion, some continue to advocate on behalf of the big basket of deplorables responsible for the ongoing mess that is the 45th president of the United States. Only a week ago, I asked how many more of these disingenuous and intellectually dishonest diatribes will we collectively be subjected to? The
New York Times swiftly flew in with an answer: to infinity and fucking beyond.

In the news analysis “Are Liberals Helping Trump?” Sabrina Tavernise, a national correspondent for the Times, echoes all of the greatest hits associated with any defense of 45’s supporters.

First, there is the introduction of the 45 voter, who in this case is Jeffrey Medford, “a small-business owner in South Carolina” who apparently “voted reluctantly for Donald Trump.” Next we get his rationale for helping to elect a monster who is presently trying to reintroduce a travel ban aimed at people from primarily Muslim countries while stripping protection of transgender children in public schools. For Medford, it was the sentiment that “as a conservative, he felt the need to choose the Republican.”

Then comes the bullshit: the idea that assigning culpability is cruel and unjust, not to mention the cries of victimhood. Tavernise argues:

Mr. Medford should be a natural ally for liberals trying to convince the country that Mr. Trump was a bad choice. But it is not working out that way. Every time Mr. Medford dips into the political debate—either with strangers on Facebook or friends in New York and Los Angeles—he comes away feeling battered by contempt and an attitude of moral superiority.

“We’re backed into a corner,” said Mr. Medford, 46, whose business teaches people to be filmmakers. “There are at least some things about Trump I find to be defensible. But they are saying: ‘Agree with us 100 percent or you are morally bankrupt. You’re an idiot if you support any part of Trump.’ ”

He added: “I didn’t choose a side. They put me on one.”

How ironic that a supporter of a man who campaigned on absolutes like “build a wall” and “Muslim ban” suddenly longs for nuance and gray areas. In any event, Tavernise paints a picture that likely resonates with the likes of the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, who once tweeted, “The assumption that ‘Trump voter = racist’ is deeply corrosive to democracy.” Cillizza went on to add, “There is nothing more maddening—and counterproductive—to me than saying that Trump’s 59 million votes were all racist. Ridiculous.”

The same goes for the former host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart, who, in an interview with Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning shortly after the election, argued:

I thought Donald Trump disqualified himself at numerous points. But there is now this idea that anyone who voted for him is—has to be defined by the worst of his rhetoric. Like, there are guys in my neighborhood that I love, that I respect, that I think have incredible qualities, who are not afraid of Mexicans and not afraid of Muslims and not afraid of blacks. They’re afraid of their insurance premiums.


Many of those people are presently screaming at Republican members of Congress at various town halls across the country. Their anger is understandable until you realize that they voted for someone who vowed on the campaign trail to repeal their health care program. Regardless of their purported motivation, though, Mexicans, Muslims and blacks were rightly fearful of their choice for president—and their support shows that we were expendable. They may not have been afraid, but they rejected their own humanity when they voted for a man who categorized one group as rapists, the other as terrorists, and the last as folks who live in war zones in this country in desperate need of law and order.

Remember, though: It’s wrong to highlight what their votes meant for the rest of us.


Tavernise writes:

Liberals may feel energized by a surge in political activism, and a unified stance against a president they see as irresponsible and even dangerous. But that momentum is provoking an equal and opposite reaction on the right. In recent interviews, conservative voters said they felt assaulted by what they said was a kind of moral Bolshevism—the belief that the liberal vision for the country was the only right one. Disagreeing meant being publicly shamed.

Protests and righteous indignation on social media and in Hollywood may seem to liberals to be about policy and persuasion. But moderate conservatives say they are having the opposite effect, chipping away at their middle ground and pushing them closer to Mr. Trump.

“The name calling from the left is crazy,” said Bryce Youngquist, 34, who works in sales for a tech start-up in Mountain View, Calif., a liberal enclave where admitting you voted for Mr. Trump is a little like saying in the 1950s that you were gay. “They are complaining that Trump calls people names, but they turned into some mean people.”


To her credit, Tavernise’s article is not like the other various op-eds that have flooded the New York Times opinion section in that she is not forcefully presenting a point of view. Even so, her analysis fits right in with the bevy of other pieces trying to absolve 45 supporters of their sins. Her essay is as exhausting a read as all the others. Like, say, another New York Times op-ed, entitled, “Sorry, Liberals. Bigotry Didn’t Elect Donald Trump.”

Had Hillary Clinton campaigned just a little bit more in Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, the 70,000 or so votes she lost in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania would have made her president. There’s also the fact that had the Democratic Party itself pushed back harder on voter suppression in those three states and other states, perhaps the party wouldn’t be in as dismal a state as it currently finds itself in. And though “shoulda, coulda, woulda” doesn’t mean much in hindsight, had Clinton won, I highly doubt that the black women who would have carried her into history would be getting as much attention as those who voted for a man nearly 3 million behind in the popular vote.


Where are the essays advocating on their behalf? What about the trans kids and adults who live in fear? What about those, like me, who constantly wonder what an Attorney General Jeff Sessions means for our safety and the remnants of our so-called rights and liberties? What about the millions of undocumented workers of Latino, African and Asian descent who have already started being practically hunted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents?

All of this is happening, and mainstream publications are interviewing 45’s supporters who bitch and moan about not being able to enjoy Meryl Streep movies and social media anymore? To hell with those people, and to hell with these attempts to run filters through the ugliness of their actions. They are not the only people who exist in this country.


Perhaps some of these publications believe that if they behave like 45 and center white people and whiteness, they, too, can thrive. If that is the case, may they enjoy the same level of failure to which he is doomed. They all have it coming.

Michael Arceneaux is the author of "I Can't Date Jesus," which will be released July 24, 2018 by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, but go ahead and pre-order it now.


Raineyb1013, Misfit Black Girl Island Denizen

If you voted for a man who campaigned on xenophobia, racism, sexism and other strains of bigotry, you either share his prejudices or you are complicit in them. The former makes you an audacious racist; the latter, a bystander, which in and of itself is a racist act.

This needs to be repeated because people don’t seem to get it.