Trump’s Rise: Lessons for Liberals

Trump won, and we never saw it coming. We thought it might be close, but no one – possibly not even his supporters – thought he would win. This is just a continuation of a right wing wave throughout the world. Modi in India. Brexit in the UK. Trump in the US.

And you know what? We deserve it. Liberals created this mess. And it’s time we fucking learned our lessons. Here they are.

Lesson One: Never Ridicule your Opponent

Liberals have always had a choice set of adjectives to denigrate the right. Racists. Bigots. Misogynists. Barbarians. Male chauvinists. Uneducated. Stupid/Dumb. Angry. Selfish. Regressive. You get the idea.

Here’s the problem. No one likes to be ridiculed. Especially not when it comes from those who think they’re morally superior. You think the right is angry? Well wouldn’t you be, if you were constantly denigrated for decades? Moreover, insults only serve to hide your own lack of logical arguments. And at some level, those on the right sense this weakness. They know your blind spots. And they can make out that you don’t want to engage them on an intellectual level. I’ve been saying this for a long time now – engage your opponents. Don’t denigrate them.

Lesson Two: Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

Liberals have a long history of trying to compensate for historical wrongs, by favoring one group over another. Blacks have had a bad deal in the past. So liberals like affirmative action instead of pure merit.

In India, women have long been socially and financially disadvantaged. So the Indian liberals created laws like 498(a), allowing a woman to jail her husband and his family with a single complaint. Similarly Muslims are a disadvantaged group in India, so the law allows them special leeway when it comes to their religion. Personal religious codes for example. And also, there is less of an outcry when Muslims take offence at depictions of Mohammed, as opposed to other religions doing the same. Also in India, lower castes have gotten a bad deal in the past. So to correct this, the government created reservations at the expense of everyone else.

All of these may be well intentioned, but have one fatal flaw. They place the burden of historical wrongs on those who had nothing to do with creating those burdens. Slavery is over and done with. The perpetrators are dead. And so if a white person today feels that they have to make even the smallest sacrifice to address that historical wrong, it’s going to rub them the wrong way.

We all have an innate sense of justice and liberals simply ride rough shod over that, albeit with good intentions. You cannot correct the historical situation of blacks by making whites feel guilty. You cannot correct the bad plight of women, by making men pay the price. You cannot hold different religions to different standards. If you don’t condemn the terrible practices of Islamic countries for fear of being called an “Islamophobe”, then you are guilty.

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Lesson 3: Acknowledge the Truth of your Opponent

You’re not as smart as you think you are. If someone has a differing view, there is at least a kernel of truth to it. The right is not “stupid”, as so many people like to think. Sure, we may feel that their anger is not fully justified. Sure, there many be over reactions. But underneath all that is always a genuine grievance.

“Build a wall around Mexico” might be an over reaction. “Deport all Muslims” might be illogical, unconstitutional, and an over reaction. But wait a minute. Let’s acknowledge the genuine grievance here. Immigration takes people’s jobs – that is a fact. Immigration can change the culture of a country – that is a fact. Let’s at least acknowledge it! It’s a fact that Islam in general has a culture that is completely opposed to the ethos of the west. You might not agree with the expression of the problem or its proposed solution. But the problem does exist!

You will get nowhere by sweeping genuine concerns under the carpet. By ignoring them you have built up anger in the right wing, that has culminated in a clown like Trump becoming President. Your brought this on yourself.

Lesson 4: You have to take the WHOLE Country with you

Liberals, you cannot move along and pretend that the country has progressed just because you’ve passed a law. The acceptance of your friends, and your social circle of a particular idea does not mean it’s the end of the story. You do not live in a bubble, and you cannot ignore people who disagree with you.

Roe vs Wade was a landmark abortion judgment. A great victory. But it shouldn’t have stopped there. Like it or not, large parts of the country disagreed with that decision, and it was your job to convince them using rational arguments. Or at least by engaging with them. Instead, what happened? The equivalent of thumbing your nose at all those “misogynists” and “uneducated masses” and saying “It’s the law now assholes. Suck it up!”

Liberals need to get the fuck out of their bubble and talk to everyone around them. And perhaps have their own views changed in the process. This is not a one way street. Stop rejoicing in your echo chamber, and start discussions. I know so many people who simply refuse to discuss politics and other “sensitive issues” even with their friends and co-workers. I’ve seen people just get up and refuse to engage with another person based on political ideology alone.

Fine, do that. But know that you have left a piece of resentment on the table. Know that you have directly contributed to a nugget of anger that can eventually blow up in your face. You did this.

Lesson 5: NEVER Clamp Down on Free Speech

Follows from lesson 4. Strange as it may sound, many liberals shy away from healthy debate. And as a result, they want others to shut up around them as well. We’ve all heard about how liberal students in American colleges want to shut down debate on opposing view points.

Well, I have news for you. If you shut down debate, you are not a liberal. Liberals have historically been the ones to press for more free speech. Liberals have always pushed the boundaries. Most comedians are liberals. But if you call yourself liberal, and refuse to listen to other viewpoints by forcibly shutting them down…shame on you. You are no liberal.

And all this feeds into the collective anger of the opposing side. What, did you think they would be happy if someone tells them they have no right to voice their views? Did you think ideas just die a natural death when suppressed? Did you think by ridiculing people and creating your own bubble where you don’t have to listen to them, those ideas have gone away?

Ostrich head, meet sand.

What done is now done. Trump is President and we all have to live with it. But liberalism throughout the world really needs to get its thumb out of its ass and start doing the hard work of engaging and convincing people through the strength of arguments. Not by emotions, shutting down free speech, and trying to correct wrongs by creating new injustices.

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27 thoughts on “Trump’s Rise: Lessons for Liberals”

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Well, if you mean there is no new topic for you to say something, that does not sound plausible but anyhow accepting that.

        You don’t need topic to write on but will to do that and topic will emerge for you, these are not my thoughts but read somewhere I guess!


  1. I hate being chastised with a criticizing tone, and I hate being singled out for a wrongdoing when others are doing the same wrong thing and getting away with it. That said, I think the article below has some valid points. I still feel that the article comes across as saying that “their” kind is more important and more valid, and more dangerous to offend, than “my” kind.


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