I’m tired of liberal opinion pieces arguing for how we need to understand the plight of white, heterosexual, working-class men — because, let me be honest, they’re becoming irrelevant. Not irrelevant as a people or of human beings worthy of respect like anyone else, but irrelevant as the reigning power whose blessing must be sought by minorities for social progress.
There’s nothing profound to understand about this demographic other than it continues to feel entitled to define Americanism, what it is and who is a part of it. It is of a crumbling era, its culture born of genocide, slavery, patriarchy, sexism, racism and various perversions of Christianity. A liberal like myself must recognize this and champion its complete and utter destruction.
I am a transplant to the West Coast straight from the Bible-thumping heart of the Piney Woods of East Texas. I grew up in the South. I’m half-black and half-white. I’m gay. I’m an atheist. I’ve been called “nigger”, I’ve been called “faggot”, and many times my morals have been dismissed because I do not believe in God. I’ve been in physical altercations because of each of these things. While I won’t go so far as to say I was bullied as a child, I nevertheless endured the cruel, irrational, tribal behavior of my peers and was forced to normalize it.
My commitment to liberalism has been forged, not through ivory tower observation, but by education, experience and overcoming real challenges. I was always a minority in some way growing up. I was always an underdog, and yet I always emerged victorious.
I emerged victorious because I believe in hard work, being strong and not showing weakness. I do so not as much for myself, but for those who can’t help themselves, whether family, friends or strangers. I am fueled by a passion to stand up for the little person so she or he isn’t exploited, ignored and swept away unnoticed in a selfish and violent world. This defines me both morally and politically.
Marginalized peoples have pleaded forever with the powers that be; we’ve stood aside timidly asking for a spot at the table — “Will you please recognize us?” “Will you please give us civil rights?” “Will you please be nice to us?”
We’ve made monumentous strides thanks to civil rights heroes that have done more than I ever have and probably ever will, but liberalism has become complacent—we lost our vigilance—and that may have left liberalism mortally wounded in the United States. Our leadership and the media failed to amass a defense against Trumpism when we saw its imminent dangers. Most passively observed the election with skepticism, thinking the culture war had already been won and that this election is just another headache on the way to American prosperity.
But yeah, about that: now our social safety net, while it has never been perfect, is in danger and it awaits to be seen whether our civil liberties are, too. People I know are in danger of losing their healthcare because of pre-existing conditions if all of the Affordable Care Act is repealed, and many are in danger of not being able to afford lifesaving medications; families are in danger of being ripped apart, either because of a xenophobic hysteria to deport immigrants or because Christians are still fighting tooth and nail to invalidate LGBT citizens. We failed. We failed because we refused to be strong for those who really need us, and it will have deadly consequences for some, to say nothing of its lasting impact on American democracy.
Ironically, we loving liberals have been too nice, too optimistic and we fill everything with rainbows expecting it all to work out for the better. We kowtow to the conviction and vitriol of those who subscribe to religiosity, sexism, racism and homophobia.
We’ve been afraid to be belligerent with our own liberalism, and in turn conservatives have dismissed us as weak. What we need is a liberalism that is strong and defiant. We need liberalism that is militant. We need militant multiculturalism. We need militant globalization. We need militant secularism. We need a political party that doesn’t ask for rights, but demands them. We need ethnic motivation and empowerment. We need to be proud to be black and we need to be proud to be brown. We need to be proud to be women. Now more than ever, our vigilance must be renewed.
Going forward, Congressional Democrats need to be more obstructionist than Republicans ever were during the tenor of President Barack Obama. The power of the Democratic minority in the Senate is pretty much our only check on Trump and Republican power right now (so long as the Senate keeps the filibuster in tact), with Democrats maintaining 46 of 100 seats in the Senate and 188 seats of 435 in the House of Representatives. And of the 50 governorships, Democrats now only hold a measly 18 and control only 13 state legislatures. We’re losing. Badly.
However, the most obvious, if only, silver lining here is that electoral demographics are quickly shifting in favor of Democrats, at least in terms of social issues, and let’s not forget that Hillary Clinton still won the popular vote. This election was not, overall, a repudiation of liberal values. This election reflected a failure of the Fourth Estate, i.e. the press, a technological strain on democracy and, yes, strong, undeniable elements of racism and nationalism.
Republicans and Democrats alike, though, should fear the prospects of this election. We elected a vindictive, ego-maniacal, shameless, fact-distorting, authoritarian demagogue to the presidency, and now we’re all holding our breath hoping he doesn’t abuse his power or do irreversible damage to the Republic.
As dramatic as all this sounds, if our Constitutional institutions can withstand an authoritarian in the executive branch, then I believe liberals will make a comeback in 2020 (2018 mid-terms still look pretty grim). In the meantime, we can’t fall back into complacency or we’re finished. Remain strong. Remain vigilant.