I want to say right off the bat that I voted a straight democratic ticket. While I’m actually more conservative than most democrats, there are a few issues I just can’t compromise upon, so believe me when I say that I was less than thrilled with the outcome of yesterday’s election. That being said…
This is not the end of the world.
Many of my liberal friends were absolutely and utterly convinced that Trump could not and would not win. I wasn’t so sure. In fact, I’ve had a sickening feeling for weeks now that the results were going to turn out pretty much as they have done. Last night, following my facebook feed, I saw people well and truly terrified: that they were going to die, that they would lose their health care, that they would be rounded up and sent to concentration camps, and even a few who are seriously contemplating suicide (please, please talk to someone) because they are so incredibly frightened. To all these hurting, scared people, I want to say, “breathe.” I do not think this is going to be quite so bad as you fear. In fact, many of the things that you’re afraid of now, are things conservatives feared when Obama was elected (no joke, and something I’d forgotten until a friend reminded me).
Two things are important now, well, three actually:
- Grieve. I realize for many of you this was a horrifying shock. It’s natural to have an emotional response to that. It’s normal. Let it run its course and seek out whatever support you need.
- Don’t let fear rule you. The truth is that we don’t know what Mr. Trump is going to be like in office. There are many, many democrats still in powerful positions, and our governmental system was designed on a system of checks and balances. I understand that you are afraid, but breathe; and finally,
- Start planning for mid-term elections. If you don’t like the way this election turned out, start looking ahead at midterm elections, campaigning, writing your representatives, etc. Get more involved in the political process. The world is not going to end. We are not all going to die.
Now for the less popular part of this piece…
I want to say a few words about why I think Mr. Trump won. His victory didn’t surprise me. Part this is because I’ve traveled in middle American, away from the cities within the past three months and I’ve seen the support that he garnered and partly because I don’t just watch mainstream news sources. I watch those news outlets, but I also watch conservative and foreign news outlets. If you only watch mainstream news, then of course it’s easy to think that Trump is the devil, Cheetoh-Hitler, and that this is the collapse of liberty. A broader perspective might be in order.
I think it’s easy when living in a city (like New York, for instance where I work) or working in a largely liberal setting (like academia) or talking only with friends who think similarly to assume that our political views are the correct ones and I see people guilty of this all the time (I see it in myself in the utter contempt in which I hold anti-choice advocates). It’s easy to ignore the other sides’ concerns and I think that’s a good part of what happened. I think that many liberals are convinced that they are morally superior and that if everyone were as educated and enlightened then of course they would support the liberal position. That attitude fosters neither dialogue nor understanding (and let’s be fair, it’s not much better on the other side of the equation). I saw a lot of contempt flying on both sides of the election and I saw very specific concerns not only left unaddressed by the democrats, but treated with outright contempt. As one of my teachers once told me: the moment your contempt shows, you’ve lost.
I’ve been hearing a lot of people saying that a vote for a Trump presidency is a vote for misogyny, racism, and homophobia. I don’t actually think that’s true, though I do certainly see those things in a percentage of his voters. I simply don’t think that Hillary addressed concerns over illegal immigration and Muslim terrorism, two key areas of concern I see in my very conservative friends. I also think that a vote for Trump was a vote against a radical SJW agenda. Let’s just say that riots caused by BLM did not help the democratic cause. Things like this and this and this really did not inspire confidence. I’ve seen consistent concerns about a threat to free speech and personal liberty, concerns that I absolutely admit to sharing, in conservatives and Hillary’s campaign not only refused to address that but mocked it.
My point is not to assign blame. Someone asked me today what good if any do I see able to come from these election results and I think that it’s a good opportunity to consider our differences and the way we approach them, to look at the bigger picture and what serves our country best in the long run. Where were mistakes made and how can that be corrected in the future?
Maybe first, to believe that there is a future and that there are things that we can do.
I’m horrified at the level of raw terror amongst so many within our communities, fear of loss of life and liberty. Now more than ever is the time for dialogue with those on the opposite end of the spectrum, and coming together within our own communities and groups. I don’t fear a Trump presidency. I’ll admit to fearing a Pence Presidency but I think we have it in our power to stop that in the future.
Other things to consider: almost immediately Trump dropped any “pro-life” statements from his agenda. His acceptance speech spoke of improving our infrastructure and tending to the cares of veterans (I’m not sanguine ever about any politician fulfilling campaign promises, but it’s significant, I think, that he did not mention God, family values, or any of the buzz words that insane evangelicals cling to, not even to give a passing nod to that group). Most of the states that went for Trump also legalized recreational marijuana. There were several important wins, including a first time Latina Senator and the first openly LGBT governor in OR. I don’t think things are quite as bleak as we may initially have supposed. I do think this is a wake up call for a liberal party disconnected from working class American concerns. Until a few years ago, Trump was a card carrying democrat. I think it’s important to remember that we don’t know what he really thinks on many issues and we may end up surprised.
I’ve had several relatives ask me how I could vote Hillary, when I don’t particularly like her and my answer is simple: this isn’t the quest for the holy grail. This isn’t some sublime mystical experience, it’s the very practical act of choosing the candidate that one believes will move this country toward the goals one wishes to see enacted. We make the best reasoned choice from the candidates given us. I don’t expect any politician to be lily white. If they weren’t corrupt, I suspect they wouldn’t have gotten as high in their political parties as they did. I’ve read political narratives from the ancient world through to our modern era and nothing ever really changes there. The ones who want power probably shouldn’t have it handed to them! We must, however, make do with what we have.
I read an interesting comment from a FB friend LF re. the Gods and this election. LF said that she couldn’t pray for the outcome of the election because the election of a country’s leader was something of the human realm. It was the responsibility of human beings – us—to do wisely and well. It wasn’t something in which the Gods should get involved (I’m simplifying her argument somewhat). That really stood out to me and I thought ‘yes, this is our job.’ Maybe we can use this election to consider how to approach that job well. I will say this, out of all the elections that I can remember, this one seems to have had people most furiously engaged. That’s a good thing: we should be invested and engaged in the future. Maybe with this election behind us, we can learn how to do that more effectively.
I’m going to end this with a quote by C. S. Lewis that a reader posted earlier today, food to consider, for those disappointed with this election’s outcome. It certainly made me reconsider:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. “