I wasn’t surprised when Donald Drumpf won the presidency.
Disappointed, yes, but not surprised.
In the aftermath of the “upset,” every single pundit and newsperson discussed bubbles; who lives in them, and how that caused the experts to call it wrong.
I do not live in a bubble. I travel the country slinging jokes.
As a stand-up comedian, I see America. Not just the big, progressive cities, but America. Flyover America. The place most pundits don’t know about, talk about, or considered important before November 8, 2016.
I perform in comedy clubs, bars, VFW Halls and anywhere and everywhere else there’s a stage and a microphone. I make people laugh, and then I talk to them after shows.
And they talk to me.
And they tell me nigger and faggot jokes like it’s somehow acceptable.
Sometimes I respond angrily; sometimes I just stare and remain silent. But then it’s another night, another town, and another disgusting joke casually tossed my way.
(Usually followed by the comment, “You can use that in your act!”)
Because I’m a white male, it’s automatically assumed that I want to hear such things. It’s not every show, and it’s not every person, but it is Chinese-Water-Torture often enough for me to understand how pervasive racism is in 2016.
Several months before the election, I thought a Drumpf candidacy was good for the country. Not a Drumpf presidency, mind you, but a Drumpf candidacy. I thought pulling every bigot out of the woodwork and into the sunlight provided an opportunity for America to take a good, long look in the mirror and own up to the problems we have.
Unfortunately, America doubled down on my musing. Now we’re seeing emboldened sexism and homophobia. Even better, we’re seeing people deny it’s happening, while it happens.
Statistics show white people in particular supported Drumpf; probably the same white people who tell me their “jokes” after my set. While that segment of the Caucasian population might be a lost cause, there is a segment of white people who didn’t even bother to vote. If Democrats want to get their vote in 2020, they have to look inward, and I am here to tell the party that Political Correctness is hurting them. Bill Maher made a similar comment regarding the problem on his post-election show; South Park made reference to it two weeks after the election.
Yes, blame FBI Director Comey and his letter. Blame Hillary for not campaigning in Wisconsin or Michigan. Blame both voter apathy and 3rd party candidates who gave people who wanted to smell their own farts something to sniff.
But don’t let PC culture off the hook.
Social Justice Warriors need to differentiate between racism, and comedy. They need to stop lumping actual bigots in with the average American, and they need to stop decrying anything they might not like simply for the sake of “sensitivity.”
The DNC, in turn, needs to stop pandering to SJWs for the sake of courting votes.
In 2015, the idea Millennials and colleges were killing comedy was a hot topic. Chris Rock weighed in with the quote: “You can’t even say ‘the black kid over there.’ No, it’s ‘the kid in the red shoes,’ because you’re charged with being offensive before you’re offensive.
This led to Jerry Seinfeld pointing out, “They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist. That’s sexist. That’s prejudice.’ They don’t know what they’re talking about.”
#CancelColbert trended because of a Tweet taken out of context. Though the Tweet was a small part of a larger whole, one where the overall joke was an attack on intolerance, it was easier to just knee-jerk react and fly the “I’m Offended!” flag.
I mention all this because I’ve had my own run ins with the PC crowd.
I performed at a college and did several pro-marriage equality jokes, jokes specifically mocking bigotry. I even said “marriage equality” where I usually say “gay marriage,” because I was making sure my already politically correct joke was even more politically correct because of my audience.
That night, I was yanked off stage and told, “As a straight, white male, you have no place talking about the LGBTQ community. Imagine a homosexual sitting in the audience and hearing you joke about their plight; how do you think that makes them feel?”
While I cannot answer for every single LGBTQ person, the feedback I’ve received so far in my career is that most of them get and love it. The response usually is: here’s a straight, white male joining our cause and acting as an ally. Awesome.
Not on that college campus. There I was told I couldn’t even broach the subject.
In contrast of that night: after a show rural Michigan, a man approached me. He bought a T-shirt, then announced: “You know, I liked most of your act.”
Curious, I responded, “What didn’t you like?”
His answer? “Your fag material… It sounded like you like them a little too much.”
I laughed, because it meant that in his own way, he got it. I was mocking homophobia, which challenged his beliefs. He didn’t like that.
So here you had the exact same material and two different responses to it. The bigot understood he was the target of my joke, yet was forgiving. The SJW didn’t even want the issue discussed. This means trigger warnings have made people less willing to examine content. Instead, they choose to stop listening once they hear the “offending” word or subject, and then quickly shut down anyone using or discussing it.
(Which, by the way, is why I specifically did not put a trigger warning at the front of this piece. When I described the kind of bile I hear after my shows, I wanted it to hit the reader the same way it hits me: unwanted, and out of the blue.)
Note, by the way, the difference between the homophobe in Michigan and the SJW at the college.
The bigot still liked me enough to buy a shirt. He listened to my whole act; realized some of it was at his expense, got over it, and complimented me on the rest. The SJW yanked me off stage after hearing something they thought might be offensive to someone.
What does that tell you about the two different groups, and what does this have to do with losing elections?
It has to do with labeling, and criticizing; the party of inclusion forgot to be inclusive.
When you push someone too far, they snap. When you take normal, middle-of-the-road Americans and shout at them years on end for not keeping up with “social progress” quickly enough—for not being as super-hyper-sensitive to everything you are—it’s a turn off.
Yes, the Drumpf campaign was racist, and yes a chunk of his supporters are the worst humanity has to offer. Others, unfortunately, were sublimely and willfully blind to their participation in racism. After being shouted at for so long, after being told they were wrong for everything they did, either understanding, empathy, or both, was beaten out of them. In short, they tuned out. It’s like the boy who cried wolf, with “racist!” replacing “wolf.” After awhile, it just becomes static.
“What are they shouting about now? Oh, I’m a racist? They’ve been telling me that for years.”
I hear them say as such, and they could be just as turned off in 2018 and 2020 as they were this year.
When my liberal white friends, when my friends who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary and Hillary Clinton in the general, when they start to roll their eyes and think “OK, enough,” then you have problems. Maybe I know people who are better than most, people who weren’t willing to throw their vote to Drumpf or sit this one out, but being pressured either flipped middle-of-the-road Americans or made them demur.
Yes, fight against racism and sexism. Fight rape culture, and don’t support xenophobia disguised as humor. But don’t fight your allies. Not everything is a microaggression, and just because you don’t like (or get) a joke doesn’t mean it’s punching down or in poor taste.
You’ll never get (and shouldn’t chase) the actual deplorables who supported Drumpf. Anyone who chanted “Build a wall” or “Lock her up” is intellectually lacking and beyond reason. You might not even want to actively court some of the people who were willing to look past the worst Drumpf had to offer and voted for him anyway; their desire for “change” obviously outweighed basic decency.
But 46% of eligible voters sat 2016 out. Those people you can (and should) woo.
As Zemo pointed out in Civil War: “An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again, but one which crumbles from within? That’s dead… forever.”
Don’t fracture your base by being so humorless, Dems. Your downfall hurts everyone.
Something we’ll see all too much of over the next four years.
(release date: December 7, 2016)