Sunday, January 22, 2017

The real deplorables

Someone I know on Facebook recently posted that she, as one of the ‘deplorables’, was glad that Trump was now President. As she stated it, she and her husband were dancing around the house with joy that Hillary Clinton had lost the election. The current fascination with the word deplorable is Hillary Clinton’s doing, when she referred to Trump’s followers as a ‘basket of deplorables’, and in so doing, managed to insult a fairly large group of people, apparently. But it seems to me that the wrong people are characterizing themselves as the deplorables. When I read about them online, this term seems to cover those in dire economic straits—the economically dispossessed in society—those who have lost their jobs, their homes, their medical coverage and so on. In 2017, this boils down to poverty; the deplorables then are the new poor. Politicians should not be poking fun at them, but rather trying to help their situation. If this is one of the reasons Trump won and Hillary lost, then so be it. She should have been smarter than to lay the ‘blame’ for their dire straits on people who are struggling and looking for any break they can find. But it’s not just about finances, because if it was, that would make her a non-empathetic elitist. She and her husband are very rich, as is Donald Trump, so none of them can really understand the plight of the deplorables, if by that word you mean those who are struggling financially. But here’s the rub; this acquaintance and her husband own their own home (and always have for as long as I’ve known them). I don’t want to judge them, but from what I can surmise, they don’t lack for money. She has never had to work full-time from what I can gather. They travel a fair amount within the USA, and eat out quite a bit from what I gather from her posts on Facebook. It takes money to do all these things. So why is she referring to her and her husband as deplorables? Isn’t this rather elitist in and of itself? They are not poor and in dire straits, not by any stretch of the imagination. Why would you label yourself as poor when you are not?

The word deplorable is not a noun, but rather an adjective. It is used to describe lamentable or wretched living conditions, or contemptible behavior. I believe we should return to the use of the word as an adjective or adverb. Drop the noun, and simply refer to people in dire straits as the new poor. That opens up for any number of people in all walks of life who may have lost everything and who are barely hanging on. I know people who struggle now in 2017—to make ends meet, to pay for health insurance, to pay rent, or to try and get a mortgage. I remember what it was like to struggle, to be overwhelmed by credit card debt, to face mounting costs with not a snowball’s chance in hell of tackling them. I had no safety net, no parents who could step in and help me pay off my bills. I remember it all, and remember too growing up in a family with a father whose health was poor and whose employment chances diminished with each heart attack he had. He eventually retired early on disability, but throughout my growing-up years I remember the struggle. We were far from rich. When my father died, my mother lived on his meager pension and tried to get some part-time work at the local library. She ended up volunteering there and loved it, but she really should have been hired by them part-time. But the library too was on a budget and could not afford to hire her. And so it goes. Life doesn’t always work out well for everyone; not everyone makes a good salary and not everyone can own their own home or condo or co-op. Not everyone can afford to send their children to private schools and universities, or travel to exotic places on vacation each year. 

I grew up in the middle class, and the middle class is non-existent at present. Thankfully, I no longer struggle financially as I did when I was younger. But I have never forgotten what it was like to not have much money, and am very careful with money as an adult. Things could change tomorrow, and if you've read my posts on this blog about modern workplaces, you know that I do not trust ANY workplace to treat its employees well. Not a one. They can and will get rid of you tomorrow if they need to, and won't care at all about how you'll manage without a job. You're on your own in this life and your loyalty should be saved for family and friends, not a workplace. But I would never at present label myself as a deplorable for political purposes. Why can't you just say that you're a Trump supporter? If you are not currently struggling financially, I would be very careful about labeling yourself as a deplorable. You are likely to be perceived as a non-empathetic elitist jerk.

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