Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Am I a Bad Person Because I Have No Empathy for Donald Trump's "White Working Class" Supporters?

A two-part question. Am I the only person who has no empathy for Donald Trump's voters? Moreover, am I a bad person because I want all of his voters and other supporters--especially the so-called white "working class" to get their glorious comeuppance when the American Il Duce guts programs such as the Affordable Care Act which they are increasingly dependent upon?

In the last few days and weeks, there have been several essays which speak to these concerns.

Writing at Salon, Conor Lynch argues that Trump's voters should not be treated as enemies by those who opposed the American Il Duce. He suggests:
A majority of these folks voted for Trump, of course, and he blamed Obama and the Chinese — among many other scapegoats — for very real problems. (These problems are largely a product of the inherent forces of capitalism, but it is much easier to scapegoat certain individuals or groups than to talk about a complex economic system.) What is needed when resisting the president-elect’s dangerous agenda is empathy and compassion for these Trump voters, not scorn and selfish indifference (something quite common among liberal elites). A politics of solidarity is the Kryptonite to Trump’s politics of resentment and division, and the goal should be to expose Trump as the dangerous charlatan that he is, not play into his game of demonization. 
Trump knows who his enemies are, and there’s no telling how he will use the presidency to seek revenge. His enemies are legion, of course, and just about anyone who criticizes him publicly can count themselves as a foe. Those who oppose him must encourage empathy and promote a politics of solidarity — but it is equally important to know who your true enemies are, and treat them accordingly.
At Psychology Today, Psychologist Michael Bader wrote a widely shared piece called "The Decline of Empathy and the Appeal of Right-Wing Politics". Bader does an excellent job of locating empathy in the context of systems level thinking and how a crisis in empathy has helped to create the swamp that birthed Trumpism and his brand of American fascism:
Adults, like children, try to cope with the stress of failures of recognition in the best ways they can. They certainly get anxious and depressed and may turn to drugs and alcohol to manage these painful feelings. In addition, when social trust is weakened and people are isolated, they try to find ways to belong, to be part of a community. The Tea Party is one such community. Others turn to their church communities. Their social brains seek an experience of “we” and often do so by creating a fantasy of a “them” that they can devalue and fight. Tribalism draws from our need for relatedness but, tragically, can also pervert it. Rejected by employers and government, they reject and demean others. All the while, they are trying to deal with the pain, powerlessness, and lack of empathy that they experience in their social lives. 
Donald Trump clearly spoke to this pain. He empathized with the traumatic losses and helplessness of the white middle and working classes. He helped them feel part of something bigger than themselves, a “movement,” which combatted their isolation. And he helped them restore a feeling of belonging by positioning them against demeaned others, primarily immigrants and countries on the other end of “horrible trade deals.”
The research on the development of empathy and the trauma resulting from its absence, on the links between economic inequality and physical and psychological suffering, and on the corrosive effects of social isolation has to lead progressives to renew their campaign for radical reforms of our economy and politics.
Vox profiled white "working class" Americans (read: poor and truly working class as opposed to whites who work in the skilled trades and elsewhere and that make more than the national average) who have benefited greatly from the evil black president's onerous "Obamacare" plan yet have chosen to support Donald Trump. The masses are asses:
I don't know. I guess I thought that, you know, he would not do this. That they would not do this, would not take the insurance away. Knowing that it's affecting so many people’s lives. I mean, what are you to do then if you cannot … purchase, cannot pay for the insurance?
You know, what are we to do? 
So I don't know. Maybe he's thinking about, you know, the little people that are not making the big money, like what they make in New York and Washington and all the places that, you know, this is not, you know, something — this is people’s lives that's being affected... 
I don't know. I guess the next four years is going to be different. I don't know what to look for.  
You're scaring me now, on the insurance part. 
’Cause I have been in a panic, so I'm afraid now that the insurance is going to go away and we're going to be up a creek.
The Vox profile is priceless...and I hope that these fools who voted for Donald Trump get everything that is coming to them.

Fellow Jedi, have I fallen to the dark side?

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