PHOTO: Donald Trump greets supporters after a rally in Mobile, Alabama, August 21, 2015 (Mark Wallheiser/Getty)
Adam Quinn of the University of Birmingham writes for EA:
“The soft bigotry of low expectations.” This phrase of George W. Bush’s, used in an entirely different context, keeps coming back to my mind amid present debates, spurred by Donald Trump’s Presidential victory, about how “intellectuals” and “liberal elites” need to handle the backlash at the ballot box of the white working class.
I think we owe it to Trump’s voters to take their views seriously. I think taking them seriously means accepting that some of their views are, unequivocally and without embarrassment, reactionary when it comes to structural questions of race, national identity, and gender. It also means accepting that policy preferences are often incoherent.
Showing them respect means according them the trappings of political adulthood, which include being confronted sometimes with the proposition that what you believe is factually untrue, or that policies you support may be self-destructive.
What’s disrespectful is deciding that people either don’t mean what they say, or that they shouldn’t be expected to handle criticism that’s civil but direct. People say they have been ignored, or forgotten. The opposite of that is not to have others bow to your every demand and prejudice.
It is to be engaged. And with engagement comes criticism. In both directions.