‘We’d cried wolf too many times’: Eight ways liberals can blame themselves for President Trump

The nightmare interpretation of Tuesday’s U.S. election result is that half of America decided to inaugurate a regressive, sexist white nationalist empire. The more generous and more likely interpretation is that this was a vote — a vote of such force and intensity that American voters were even willing to register it with a candidate with such obvious character flaws.

But against what were they rebelling? Plenty of American liberals are wondering this weekend whether they themselves played a role in making the Trump presidency possible. Below, the National Post’s Tristin Hopper sums up the main arguments.

Calling everything all the time

Plenty of big names spoke at the convention in July, and virtually every one of them has recently been the subject of a protest, a hashtag or an editorial calling them racist. Meryl Streep got it in February for serving on the all-white jury of the Berlin International Film Festival. Bill Clinton has been shouted down by Black Lives Matter protesters for his 1994 crime bill. Even Lena Dunham, who threatened to move to Canada if Trump won, faced a Twitter backlash in September for Tweeting, “An uncool thought to have: ‘is that guy walking in the dark behind me a rapist? Never mind, he’s Asian.’” A clear majority of Americans still believe that prejudice against ethnic minorities is a problem that needs to be fixed, but the nitpicking over every perceived case of bias may have started to annoy people. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, no fan of Trump, wrote on Election Night that “it can be argued that the Left expended so much energy over the last several years being outraged over verbal missteps, accidental innuendo, ‘tasteless’ tweets … that when the REAL threat to equality emerged, we’d cried wolf too many times.”

Flirting with

Barack Obama didn’t really bring up race all that often in his 2008 campaign. There was an early speech on race, of course, and then it was just a lot of “hope” and “change.” Contrast this with Hillary Clinton, whose election night victory speech was going to be punctuated with fake shards of glass falling from the ceiling. The Democratic Party has firmly embraced in recent years, with a strong focus on diversity and a lot of speeches beginning with “as a person of colour…” or “as a woman… .” But as The Atlantic warned as early as April, 2015, this strategy can fuel “racial polarization, where one’s party label or positions on issues becomes synonymous with race or ethnicity.” Hit the identity politics too hard, went the warning, and white males might also decide to vote based on their skin colour and genitalia. As analysts have been saying since started coming in Tuesday, many whites did indeed decide to vote like a “minority group.”

poor white people

First things first: Team Trump easily takes gold in the mockery department. It’s actually difficult to name a subject that the president-elect didn’t make vicious fun of at some point over the past year. But the fact remains that white people without a college education — who came out for Trump in droves — are one of the last safe butts of a joke in the , and mockery has a tendency to drive people to outsider candidates. Imagine if Bernie Sanders had been the Democratic nominee; had TV suddenly been flooded with a bunch of comedians mocking Sanders supporters as limp-wristed communists, rest assured that thousands of “Limp-wristed Communist” t-shirts would have been flying off the shelves within hours.

Demonizing conventional conservatives

Again, demonization is a tactic the Trump campaign mastered. But even the most moderate Republicans face regular accusations from the left for being the racist, misogynist agents of big business. This even happened to Mitt Romney, the staid, teetotaling son of a civil rights crusader who was one of the first Republicans to come out against Trump. The term “crying wolf” has been uttered a lot in the last few months. Accusations of racism and sexism was so reflexively directed at moderate Republicans that it may have unwittingly prepared the ground for a guy with actual racist and sexist tendencies. The Trump-supporting comedian Steven Crowder summed it up, “’TRUMP IS A , RACIST, XENOPHOBIC LIAR!!’ … yeah but you said that about Bush, McCain and Romney. So no one cares.”

Flawed candidate

Donald Trump won the presidency with about 750,000 fewer votes than Mitt Romney in 2012. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, got five million fewer votes than Obama in 2012. Remorseful Democrats have lamented that their 2016 candidate was someone whose “turn” it was, rather than a figure who had risen organically in the moment. Indeed, at the beginning of the 2016 election cycle, early projections had Clinton, the spouse of a president, running against Jeb Bush, the brother and son of a president. A country of 350 million isn’t wrong to feel that something is off with that equation.

All the political-correctness talk

“We do get a little pedantic in our insistence that no conversation about anything is complete unless it specifically acknowledges the special problems of marginalized groups,” wrote the left-wing blogger Kevin Drum in January. Even before Trump was the Republican nominee, voices on both the right and the left were diagnosing him as a symptom of the backlash against “political correctness.” In an era of “check your privilege” and “I deeply regret the offense I have caused,” there ended up being a huge demographic of Americans who felt catharsis at seeing a politician who talked without thinking. This was an issue that Canada’s own Ujjal Dosanjh raised in a January editorial. The former Liberal health minister and first non-white premier of a Canadian province wrote that “the silencing of most good white men has provided an opportunity for the Trumps of the world to rise. That is what happens when we suffocate or silence rational debate.”

All the damned celebrities

“I’m begging liberal Democrats to discover a than wealthy celebrities mugging in a camera about how dumb the GOP is,” wrote New York author Fredrik deBoer in a Tweet just as the election results became known. Clinton was endorsed by virtually every major celebrity in the United States, with Trump only attracting the odd Ted Nugent or Jon Voight. But this ended up being a populist election, and listening to multi-millionaires expound on their vision for America just didn’t have the same resonance.

…and by the way, the post-election protests aren’t helping

It was supposed to be the Trump supporters who were going to take to the streets if their candidate lost. And maybe they would have (the celebratory KKK marches this week are a clue), but this week saw tens of thousands of people flood the streets of U.S. cities to essentially protest the results of a U.S. election. In some cases, cars got burned, shop windows got smashed and garbage got lit on fire. And yes, some of these protesters were even claiming that the election was “rigged.” Trump won (despite losing the popular vote), and unlike the 2000 or 1960 election, the result wasn’t close enough to be disputed. If Trump voters saw themselves as resisting a sheltered elite of entitled millennials who can’t tolerate alternative views, the events of the last few days aren’t really proving them wrong.

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About Tristin Hopper