So I call this a rant and it kind of is. It’s about a consistent narrative that I’ve always been sick of, and why I think the UK election proves that I’m right to be sick of it. It’s a narrative pushed by liberals, neo-liberals, and class reductionists. It’s a narrative that assumes that only oppression in existence is class; that most people only care about class. It’s a narrative that assumes that bigotry is an abstract concept as opposed to a real thing that directly affects real people.
The narrative, of course, is the constant questioning of why people vote for the far right. Why did people vote for Trump and the Republicans? Why did people vote for Boris Johnson and the Tories? Why do people keep voting against their own interests?
Well… the answer to that question, as far as I’m concerned, is that they aren’t voting against their own interests; we just keep getting our hypotheses about their interests wrong, and their voting behavior proves it.
Let’s get one thing straight… no matter how badly some people want to deny it, Identity Politics is one of the most important political battle-grounds out there. It infects quite literally everything and informs society quite directly. SJWs like myself and others are not the only purveyors of Identity Politics, either. The Right… around the world… is, as well.
The Right pushes the politics of the straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied, male identity. The Right speaks to and engages this identity, intending to push the continued narrative that we (straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied men) are the “superior identity”. The Left, of course… or at least parts of the Left… pushes not the opposite, but instead the politics of equity. That is, no identity is superior; at the end of the day, we are all red-blooded human beings of the species Homo sapiens, regardless of our skin color, our gender identities, our sexual identities, our various physical and mental abilities, our religious identities (including the lack thereof), and so on. And we all deserve all the same rights and privileges that that entails.
So with that out of the way, let’s deal with this question of “why do people vote against their own interests?” The people who ask this question, and seem intent on studying it, are operating on a wrong and incredibly ignorant premise; that the interests of the people who vote for Trump or Boris Johnson or any fascist dictator(-wannabe) are aligned with the interests of the people asking said question. I don’t know if they operate on this premise out of ignorance or deliberately because they are determined to continue pretending as if Patriarchal White Supremacy does not exist and people don’t vote strictly on the basis of their various bigotries.
I believed that the election of Trump was evidence that I’m right and that this question is simply incorrect on its face. The election of Boris Johnson and the Tories is, as far as I’m concerned, the clinching evidence. It is proof positive, for me, that the people who vote for these demagogues are voting entirely in line with their interests.
You see… I think the white people are content to remain lower class as long as people of color are an even lower class than them. I think the men are content to remain lower class as long as women are an even lower class than them. I think that cis people are content to remain lower class as long as people who don’t fit onto the gender binary are an even lower class than them. I think that straight people are content to remain lower class as long as everyone who isn’t straight is an even lower class than them. And so on, and so forth.
“Well sure, I may be livin’ in a trailer park paycheck to paycheck barely makin’ ends meet, but at least that [insert homophobic, transphobic, ableist, religious, and racial slurs here] is doin’ worse than me!”
In other words… they are voting for their bigotries. They don’t care about the economy or the environment. They don’t care about science. They don’t care about their own future. They don’t even care about the future they leave their own children.
They just want Patriarchal White Supremacy to remain intact.
And I can prove just by taking a cursory look at how both Trump and Johnson ran:
Let’s take a look at Trump, first:
He called Mexicans rapists and promised to keep Muslims out. He was openly misogynistic and ableist during his campaign, as well. Basically, he openly showcased every bigotry you could imagine on the campaign, and continues to do so even now.
That’s a short take on Trump, because I went over a lot of his bullshit back in 2016 and writing about him still makes me feel ill. So I’m gonna skip to Boris Johnson, now, and I’m sure I’ll feel just as ill…
The Guardian has an interesting breakdown of the Tory party manifesto. I’m going to quote bits from the parts on Immigration and Crime and Justice.
Let’s start with Immigration:
The manifesto states: “Most people coming into the country will need a clear job offer.” This already deviates from the Australian system in that one of the key features of that approach is that a job offer is not required. What will points be issued for? The manifesto mentions English language and “good education”. The Australian system is far more complex.
Given the extreme Islamophobia and general racism in the UK, and especially amongst the Tories… and Boris Johnson’s own Islamophobia and general racism… it’s clear what they mean when they say they want to include how well an immigrant “speaks English” towards their “points” for entry. Same with “good education”… that’s a lot like Trump’s praising of immigrants from Norway (we all know that was a dog whistle… right?).
I’m already getting sick, so let’s skip to the “Crime and Justice” section, because this is fucking terrifying.
The Tories’ toughened stance on law and order is by now well-known, with Johnson making his pledge to recruit 20,000 police officers one of the first he made as prime minister. Increased use of stop and search, longer sentences for some violent and sex offenders, and creating 10,000 new prison places are all in there.
However, much of what is proposed goes against the evidence of what works when attempting to reduce crime and reoffending. Experts warn stop and search entrenches knife crime. The government’s own serious violent crime strategy states a clear link to “poor life outcomes” – low educational attainment, poor health, unemployment and more. Short prison sentences, which were close to being scrapped before Johnson took office, are proven to be ineffective.
The Tories are getting tough on crime without being so tough on – or interested in – its causes.
Stop and Search? 20,000 more police officers? 100,000 new prisons?
This should sound super familiar for people in the US… all that’s missing are the guns.
So what’s my point, here?
My point is that we really need to stop asking why the people who vote for fascistic dictatorial wannabes like Trump and Johnson are “voting against their own interests”.
The people who vote for Trump and Republicans, Johnson and the Tories, etc, are racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, jingoistic, xenophobic, and ableist.
They. Are. Bigots.
Bigotry is squarely at the center of their interests. Their supremacy is all that matters to them. Patriarchal White Supremacy is more important than anything else to them.
This is why Class Reductionism is wrong. Abolishing Capitalism is not enough. We have to tear down Patriarchal White Supremacy, as well. That won’t come down with Capitalism because it was there before Capitalism. They need each other, and tearing down only one just isn’t good enough.
The election of Boris Johnson and the Tories in the UK proves something else to me as well… this fascism is not dying out. This is not a last gasp. This is a re-awakening. Fascism is gaining power. We’re voting our way to a new Nazi era. And people want this. This is the majority… or at the least the majority that votes. It is not dying with the last generation, because the last generation is teaching it to the next generations and they… we… are perpetuating it further.
Here’s a scary thought: Trump is not going to be impeached. Then he’s going to win again in 2020, even if Sanders is the Democratic nominee.
What are we going to do about that?