The short answer is, Don’t call them anything. Don’t label them. Forget what they look like to you. Drop all your preconceived notions. Even the worst haters are sentient beings, after all. Maybe the dumbest and ugliest of them mostly wants you to pay attention.
This is what liberals should do, rather than the vile name-calling we often see under Comments on political statements online, from conservatives and liberals alike. It’s not so easy to maintain a level head when someone is calling you a “libtard” or some equally insulting name. But using such a label is just a reflex, to be used instead of debate.
If you keep your response neutral you may learn something valuable. For example, some guy who lives in an area where so many are becoming addicted may be unemployed for years, and rightfully angry about it. Ask him about his problems. Then ask him what he thinks the solution is. If he spouts nasty comments, do not respond in kind. If he speaks of information you know is false, gently remind him of the actual facts. Tell him where you found your information.
In this particular case, your new buddy might have some simplistic solutions to complex problems. Explore with him some of the options for improving the situation. For example, what does he think of a guaranteed minimum income? The role of robots these days. Is more unemployment due to shipping jobs overseas or to replacing workers with robots? He may have some interesting insights from the front lines.
Offer to meet with him online with Skype or FaceTime. Ask him to put some of his friends in touch. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up with a lively discussion group.
What to call a hater is part of a much larger problem, that of turning the hate that Trump cultivated and tapped into over a long period, and enlarged greatly during the campaign, back into civilized discourse. Trump’s campaign of lies and hate, much approved of by racists and haters of every kind, and never disavowed by him, even to this day, has resulted in a storm of hate crimes against virtually every social, cultural, and religious group that is not white and Christian. In short, we have rapidly devolved from an admirable nation into a dangerously uncivil one, unsafe even to visit.
It will not be enough for liberals to simply “make nice”, though. Hatred makes a lot more noise, even when very few people are involved. But are there very few? I’m afraid not. It has been obvious for a long time that racism is one of the defining characteristics of today’s Republican Party. Republicans believe all blacks are lazy and stupid, all Mexicans are criminal, all Asians are sneaky and untrustworthy, all Muslims are terrorists, and so on. Not to mention the rampant misogyny we have observed in hundreds of proposed laws to control and limit women—but never men, not once. Many are outspoken in these and similar beliefs, although most refuse to explicitly acknowledge them. But the beliefs are there, and making nice on the part of liberal Democrats can only be a weak and ineffective response.
It is not the liberal message that needs to be changed. The rights and welfare of the people are still the primary concerns, and not the wealth of the already wealthy. It is the way the message is delivered that must be improved. It is imperative to know that ending the loud shouts of hatred depends not only on how a better message is delivered, but on formulating workable specific programs and policies that address the legitimate issues raised by the unemployed and disappointed in all parts of the country. Moreover, bringing new hope to neo-nazi haters is just as important as improving the lives of more likable characters. If a cause is legitimate, it is legitimate for everyone, and seeing that improved fortunes for all don’t depend on worsening fortunes for some—it’s not like dividing a pie—may change a few minds.
No such coherent plan exists at present. Hillary Clinton, as competent a president as she would have made, would largely have preserved the status quo, rather than forge a very progressive new plan that would address these very real problems. What we need is that progressive plan—guaranteed minimum income, encouragement of domestic industry of all sorts by various means, a strong program of acceptance of all people—always delivered with kindness.
It must be consistent. It must be insistent. It must be brought to all, including the very people who would prefer to simply hate and shout.