I think it’s pretty clear that having a racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic presidential regime emboldens those who share those beliefs and biases. Bigots now feel far freer to share their feelings because they are reified by those in the highest levels of our government. The whirlwind of bigoted policy shifts sends messages that intolerance is a-ok, which then supports discriminatory —and worse— behaviors and language.
But does it also affect those of us who despise this? Those of us who consider ourselves to be tolerant, not racist, not sexist, not xenophobic, not homophobic, not transphobic, etc.? Are there going to be negative effects on our views on difference and diversity?
Our society is racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, ableist, etc. We are, for the most part, raised in that society that values whiteness, maleness, straightness, and homogeny. Even the most liberal thinkers among us can’t escape the ubiquity and the insidiousness of these biases. As the Avenue Q song says, “everyone’s a little bit racist.” And we are! And women have internalized sexism, and teh gays have internalized homophobia, etc. etc. We can’t escape it because it is the foundation of our society and these biased beliefs form the meta-messages we all get every single day.
So, if those meta-messages are reinforced on high - does that effect even those of us to whom such belief systems are abhorrent?
I think yes, unfortunately. There’s research that shows that when discriminatory or anti-discriminatory policies are being debated in the public square that the rhetoric surrounding the debate has negative effects on the marginalized group that is affected by the policies (like LGBT people when marriage equality was being debated). But the research I have read is that it has negative effects on how the marginalized group feels about themselves. I haven’t read any research (and it likely exists) that that rhetoric can have negative effects on the majority group that doesn’t explicitly share the negative views espoused in the rhetoric. Like in the example of marriage equality - could the rhetoric have negative effects on heterosexual people who support equal rights for LGBT folks? Could it cause them to become even a tiny bit homophobic, if the rhetoric goes on long enough?
What do you think? Will living under a Trump presidency shift all of us (even us progressive, liberal, feminists) towards less tolerance by virtue of having him as president?