On the latest episode of his podcast, Bill Simmons dedicated a segment to meditating on the results of the 2020 presidential election. The degree to which you will enjoy or despise this segment probably depends on how you feel about the fact that it begins with Simmons saying things like, “That’s a movie that really believed in the institution of the presidency,” about Aaron Sorkin’s film, The American President, before transitioning into a fond and misty-eyed remembrance of George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium after 9/11. That’s the kind of mind we are dealing with here, and you should know that going in.
Anyway, things don’t get really good until Simmons’s Republican friend comes on to help analyze the election results. A few minutes into their conversation, Simmons unleashes this gem:
I had a friend ask me yesterday why I thought white people who made less than $50,000 a year would ever in a million years vote for Trump, given what happened the last four years. Like what would their incentive be? And I said, to me it was more a vote about everything that wasn’t Trump. It was about, you know, a reaction to cancel culture, and the woke left, and celebrities, and kind of being told what to do.Bill Simmons
Is it possible that some significant number of people voted for Donald Trump because they are upset about cancel culture? Who the fuck knows! American voters cast ballots for all sorts of odd reasons. This story in The New Yorker features a 72-year-old black man from Brooklyn who says he voted for Trump because Joe Biden “violated the President’s civil rights” by pointing at him during the debate.
I am not here to quibble with Simmons’s analysis, because all such analysis is exhausting and unprovable. I only wish to point out that it’s very funny that Simmons specifically decided to make this point. This is the guy who recently came under a great deal of criticism, from people both inside and outside his own company, for recording a remarkably tone-deaf podcast about the George Floyd protests. He’s also the guy who, speaking to The New York Times, explained a lack of diversity on The Ringer’s podcast network by saying, “This isn’t Open Mic Night.” This is the guy who no longer uses Twitter, and earlier on this very same podcast episode explained that he has to be cautious when dishing his takes now, because he doesn’t want to “be the next one that’s getting fired on.”
It’s hard not to laugh at a guy like that wanting to assign responsibility for bad political outcomes to “cancel culture” and “kind of being told what to do.” There really is no better time than the days after an election for someone to confirm their own priors.