This was written in response to comments I’ve heard from some progressives who have said that they could conceive of voting for Trump because the chaos and misery caused by a Trump presidency might inspire more radical action for change.
The theory that making the most vulnerable people suffer is a good way to bring about progress is one that conflicts with both historical reality and human decency. Expanding the right to vote and abolishing slavery (to reference examples I have heard of major social/political shifts accomplished by political activism) both took decades. Electing an egomaniacal real estate developer is not going to bring about “the revolution” — and, in the meantime, much progress will be lost, particularly by those who can least afford those losses.
To cite one example: Obamacare is not perfect, and not the solution that many progressives hoped and worked for (I include myself here), but a lot more people now have health insurance. Do we want to build on that, or see it destroyed in the naive hope that the destruction will cause the “rising of the masses”? But meanwhile — the most vulnerable will suffer.
Or can you imagine what will happen if Roe v. Wade is overturned by a Supreme Court packed with right-wing ideologues? As always, women with means will be able to access abortion care. But, while we wait for the masses to rise, poor women and young women will die. Or what will happen to voting rights, already gutted by this current Supreme Court, if we were saddled with a court even further to the right?
It is a luxury of those with some degree of privilege and/or security to wish for misery that will fall hardest on those least able to bear it.
© Rhea Hirshman 2016