The other day I overheard a guy I know who most certainly voted for Trump complain that a guy he knows has said he won’t do business with Trump supporters.
Well, I wasn’t about to wade into that one. I can have interesting conversations with this guy I know about a range of subjects, but politics is not one of them. He’s swallowed he Breitbart line wholesale: Hillary Clinton belongs in jail, Barack Obama is the worst president ever, etc., etc. I don’t know where to start, and even if I did, I recognize a closed system when I see one.
It did get me thinking, though. First I thought about the fellow who doesn’t want to do business with Trump supporters. I get it. We’re supposed to be willing to park our values at the door where money is involved. To keep the job we’ll do whatever we have to do, unless we’re lucky or relatively well-off or very, very brave. To obtain a product super-fast and/or super-cheap we’ll overlook the labor practices that make faster and cheaper possible. Among other things, this pretty much forces us to dissociate our values from the choices we make in daily life. We also tend to get really angry with anyone who by word or deed suggests that we could do otherwise.
So on one hand I’m with the fellow who doesn’t want to do business with Trump supporters. When the differences between candidates are primarily philosophical or political, it’s possible to “agree to disagree,” as the saying goes. With the presidential election of 2016, such a position is a cop-out. Donald Trump ran a relatively fact-free campaign devoted to exacerbating fears and fomenting racism, xenophobia, and misogyny. He made promises that the Constitution would not let him keep, presumably because he was unaware of what the Constitution said or thought it didn’t apply to him. And he demonstrated over and over and over again his total unsuitability for high office: short attention span, lack of self-control, grudge-holding, ignorance of history, disregard for facts . . .
I’m flabbergasted by anyone who could disregard all of the above and actually cast a vote for the guy. No way am I going to “agree to disagree” with them. Would I say out loud that I’m not willing to do business with them? Probably not. Martha’s Vineyard comprises six small towns, and in small towns it’s generally possible to know a fair amount about the businesses and tradespeople one deals with and to make one’s choices accordingly. I might edge away from doing business with Trump supporters, or with overt racists, sexists, and fundamentalists, but the chances are good that they won’t even notice that I’m taking my business elsewhere, never mind wonder why.
So the guy I know who voted for Trump and was indignant that anyone might decline to do business with him as a result noted a contradiction in the other guy’s position: What about the bakeries who refused to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples and were court-ordered to pay damages as a result? (FYI, here’s info about one case in Colorado and another in Oregon.)
If I wanted to get legalistic here, I might point out that Trump voters are not a protected category, or that it’s not the act of voting for Trump that people object to but the ugly values that vote represents. I could also wonder, as I did when those wedding-cake cases came up, why any same-sex couple would choose to do business with anyone who challenged their right to marry. Maybe they didn’t know? Maybe there were no equally competent alternatives?
For now, however, I choose not to go there. Instead I say, “Yeah, I get the connection between refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple and refusing to do business with Trump supporters. But listen to what you’re saying, will you? Tolerance of those with divergent views is a liberal value. Laws that require that clients and employees be treated equally regardless of race, sex, creed, disability, sexual identity, and all the rest are liberal laws. And you, my friend, just voted for the most blatantly not liberal candidate to come down the presidential pike in my lifetime.”