“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”
– James Baldwin
For all of the post-election think-pieces on how so many Americans voted for Trump, not enough have dealt with this idea. Journalists have considered the economic causes and the cultural causes. The demographic shifts. The isolation. The fact that people weren’t honest about their pro-Trump opinions with pollsters, and thus, the polls were all wrong.
I understand the complexity, the myriad reasons that people wanted something radically different than the status quo. Bernie Sanders attracted so many for similar reasons. The desire, fictional though it may be, for something entirely new to change our government and our corporate-driven trajectory as a nation. Tragically, way too many bought the hype, and now we’re trying to uncover why.
James Baldwin’s words illuminate that sense of hate as a kind of terrible icing on a cake that is made of pain. Pain that is psychologically-based, rooted in economic distress and cultural fears, manipulated by the heat of racialized and gendered rhetoric. Fears both real and imagined, coalescing into pain both real and imagined, funneled into hate, both real and virtual. Social media being the conveyor-belt of these ideas.
We must take Baldwin’s words to heart…and use them to confront this new reality.
The new documentary comes out February 3. Thanks to Magnolia Pictures for producing it.