October 28, 2019

I know a handful of people (generally suburban white guys of a certain age) who honestly pay no attention to politics and believe, sincerely, that it has no impact on them; all politicians are crooks, they say, so doesn’t matter who is in charge.

So Axios’ afternoon email thingie yesterday had an item that I find profoundly disturbing because it tracks with my experience with the non-political white people:

“Trump’s genius: Training us not to be shocked … He makes us believe we already knew about every new exposé,” Elizabeth Spiers, a progressive media strategist, writes on the cover of tomorrow’s WashPost Outlook section:

In my day job, we create messaging for political candidates and conduct polls. Over and over, messages about Trump’s corruption land with a thud. The reality is that voters have a hard time buying the idea that such misconduct affects them in any way at all.

They might think it’s unfair, but they also overwhelmingly think everything that happens in Washington is corrupt, and that all elites in politics and business are corrupted on some level. They view Trump as a data point on a continuum of corruption, not as an outlier.

These white guys I know and have worked with don’t vote, they don’t care, and they say (somewhat accurately) that it never impacts themselves. But they never think about why that is true.

I’m not sure that it is a lack of empathy or if it is a lack of imagination.

They don’t worry about mass shootings in the school, or their kid being shot for the crime of being black with Skittles, or their daughters being denied opportunities because, well, women might decide to have a family someday, or worse: asking for it because they are wearing fashionable clothes.

They cannot imagine getting the phone call to ID the body in the morgue.

It doesn’t impact them. Until it does.

And this is why I find white male privilege so alarming. White men can afford to not pay attention. White guys know that they are on top of the food chain and —for themselves— nothing will change.

Crossposted with permission from Mock Paper Scissors

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