I’m still trying to wrap my head around this. Donald Trump is President-Elect of the United (???) States of America.
Since the time Trump announced his intention to run in 2014 to the moment he was declared the 45th President of these United States, pundits and politicos have engaged in endless conversations attempting to explain this phenomenon. We’ve heard it all ad infinitum (Trump’s racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and misogyny, anti-establishment voting, the behavior of his supporters, Clinton’s flaws, etc). The Trump supporting contingency included a variety of people; all worth discussing. So definitely count on the results of this election being analyzed for years to come, possibly even on this blog.
But what I find interesting is that during the conversation, the left has (and ALWAYS has) discounted a significant reason why I believe the Trumps of the world exist in the first place….THEM.
The purpose of this particular post is not to kowtow to the right or let them off the hook for supporting a candidate who clearly and woefully demonstrated the aforementioned characteristics. As I mentioned, we’ve been through that already. The purpose of this post is to turn the spotlight on us. I hate to write this, but it needs to be said. I’m sorry – especially as a left leaner myself, but liberals can be real jerks. We’re smug, arrogant, and condescending. If you’ve driven your bumper sticker-littered Prius to a local coffee shop to engage in “critically deconstructive conversations about social structuralism and hierarchical oppression”, wearing your crocheted beanie caps and thrift store clothes (because of how anti-consumerist you are) all the while preaching to people about why eating meat is bad, supporting non-viable 3rd party candidates is somehow healthy, and mocking people’s “imaginary god”, chances are pretty high folk will hate you. What’s worst is that you will never be able to get most people to see things your way, even if your general interests as people are aligned. I’m forever reminded of the roundtable discussion on Real Time With Bill Maher a few years ago, when Maher went on one of his typical rants (some of which really are funny, I should point out). In this particular segment, he was railing against religion (surprise, surprise). Then Newark mayor (and current US Senator) Cory Booker aggressively countered Bill by pointing out how his atheism is making him just as intolerant as the people on the right that he likes to attack. It was a prophetic (and very teachable) moment. But Maher shrugged him off. Even though that discussion is several years old now, that sentiment is still alive. All we have to do is apply it to virtually any issue facing this country.
Fast forward to September, 2016. In a speech at an LGBT function, Hillary Clinton placed Trump supporters in a “basket of deplorables.” The minute I found out about it, I got nervous. Deliberately or not, Hill had her 47% moment. At that moment, I knew she was screwed. You simply can NOT insult half of an entire electorate and expect things to go your way. Not now. Not ever.
Nobody…and I repeat…nobody likes to hear pontification (I say, as I’m pontificating), being talked down to, being told how awful they are for not subscribing to the same beliefs about wedge issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, transgendered bathrooms, etc. Likewise, many people in this country are fearful – and for good cause – that publicly opposing things they don’t agree with will lead to excoriation (i.e. not having a “safe space” for their opposition). They despise that scenario so much that they gladly (and perhaps secretly) pulled the lever for a man like Donald Trump. Obviously, these are all generalizations. But this phenomenon occurs often enough to establish patterns.
What can we do? Admittedly, it can be pretty tempting at times to take our advanced degrees and our moral compasses, and look down on certain people with disdain because of how uncultured and uneducated they appear. And I’m certainly not advocating that we step aside for hatred and intolerance. But I strongly believe that our APPROACH has to change. Something has to happen in our national dialogue that encourages discussions and accepts views different than ours. Not a conversation of judgment, finger-pointing, and belittlement. But one of compromise, negotiation, and listening. Failure to do so can contribute to the rise of a Donald Trump just as effectively as the promise to build a wall around Mexico.
All I can say for sure at this point is that the other side got the last laugh yesterday. And now we ALL have to deal with the consequences. What we do from this point on is up to us.