Opinion—How intolerance is pushing me to vote Trump

ballot+box

“Ballot box” by FutUndBeidl is licensed under CC BY 2.0

DeForest Dalbec

A couple of weeks ago, former Opinion Editor Riley Garland wrote a piece about why he switched his support this election from Donald Trump to Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian Party candidate. Here’s how one potential Jo Jorgensen supporter is being pushed towards Trump, and isn’t pleased by it at all.

Take this as an open letter, a caution to those who would be dismayed by Trump serving a second term. I’ve written a few opinions in letters to The North Wind before, most relevant is the one I wrote about how voting at all (in the modern USA) is a futile act of ignorance. Otherwise, if a reader were to try to place me politically, it would be easiest to say that I align closest with the Libertarian Party. Anyway, I’ve never voted for anyone who won an election. Despite that being said, in the last few weeks, I’m increasingly entertaining the idea of voting for Donald Trump. 

Before we freak out, it’s not certain that I will show up at the polling booth this election, and I’m still undecided who I’ll vote for if I do. I just think it would be important and useful for all of us to understand why an anti-political or alternatively political individual, like myself, would get pushed to vote Trump, and pushed there by precisely the people who would least like it.

I’m only a hobbyist as far as psychology goes, but I do know of Howard Becker who pioneered “labeling theory.” The gist is that if one is labeled as a “deviant” and “outsider,” or punk, evil, nazi, etc., then the opportunity cost of actually being that which one is labeled is lowered. If one is already suffering the consequences of being a Trump supporter, then what’s the further cost of actually just being a Trump supporter? If one isn’t being accurately evaluated (labeled) by society, then there’s very little further cost to owning up to one’s label, practically speaking, and it becomes more and more contingent on the strength of one’s principles alone to deny that label. It’d be great if principles alone could guide one’s life, but I’m not so optimistic. We’re social creatures liable to catch the wind of social pressures in every facet of life.

So here I am: on principle I dispassionately voted Gary Johnson, a libertarian candidate, twice, I’m extremely skeptical of state action and authority, and the only joy I get out of the realm of politics is sado-masochistically. I’m generally liberal socially in the ways the Libertarian Party has been (supporting abortion rights, marriage equality, drug decriminalizion, etc). I have never had a positive general opinion of Donald Trump, or his policies. Maybe I can cherry-pick a couple things he had some association with which are ok, but I don’t care to. The only joy I’ve gotten out of Trump is sardonically. With that said, if I join in the political discussion, and advance some of my views, I’ve found that I’m likely to be labeled as the enemy. 

“You’re not voting?” or “You’re voting Jo Jorgenson?” are some things I may hear. “Then you’re the reason Trump could win (or won in 2016); you’re tantamount to a Trump supporter; you’re the enemy!”

Back to Becker, if I’m now called a Trump-supporter—a deviant—what real-world incentive do I therefore have for not supporting Trump?

Once being labeled a deviant, I could try to win back favor and join the conforming (a term Becker uses) in-group by voting Biden, but then I feel that winning back favor, having been a “Trump supporter,” is an uphill battle that will take constant and exhausting mea culpas. This option seems unhealthy.

 I could try to hide and become a “secret deviant” (another Becker term). Maybe just not participate in political discussions at all, hide my principles from the social sphere, which I find more appealing as more topics are increasingly tribalised into moral “right and wrong.” For instance where am I going to fall if I suggest privatizing all police/security? Who knows; it seems socially risky to even bring it up when both tribes are so set on their moralized pedestals. This option also seems unhealthy.

Lastly, I could accept the lowered opportunity cost which has been provided by being labeled a deviant, and be a deviant. If I’m seen as evil in the ways that a Trump supporter is evil, then screw it! Might as well have some fun: praise Trump in public, fly a flag, “troll the libs,” vote Trump. I’m already incurring the social cost of doing all that anyway!

So here I am; a deviant, and I don’t know what to do with it. When I’m not hiding my opinions, then in many conversations and to many social circles I might as well just be a Trump supporter. What bothers me the most is that I get derided in social circles and from ideologies which ought to be most supportive of the “deviant”—the political left. 

My concern isn’t really with myself; I think I’m harmless and solidly developed from my political perspective. I’m far more concerned about the ideologically marginal, like those who may be able to be won over to my sort of libertarian political sphere, but are instead incentivized to join the Trump-supporting ranks (or worse) by these alienating mechanics which Howard Becker describes. I’m trying my best to talk some sense into that demographic, but anyone not “voting blue no matter who” is a presumed “evil Trumpista” already, so why wouldn’t they own it? 

So my message is this: there are weirdos out there who will never agree with you and will never accept your conclusions; they’d make good friends if you don’t label them to be an enemy first.

Editor’s Note: The North Wind is committed to offering a free and open public forum of ideas, publishing a wide range of viewpoints to accurately represent the NMU student body. This piece is a guest column, written by a Northern Michigan University student, faculty member, or community member. It expresses the personal opinions of the individual writer, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the North Wind. The North Wind reserves the right to avoid publishing columns that do not meet the North Wind’s publication standards. To submit a guest column contact the opinion editor at [email protected] with the subject North Wind Guest Column.