Post-Election: Learning About Our Country

by Vince Giordano

trumpoThis is my first post in 5 years. I vowed to take a reading sabbatical and focus on books over electronic posts. In that time we have had 2 presidential elections, I took a director job in a new area, and started/finished a Masters degree. A lot has worked through my mind in those 5 years. More recently, I have read a lot pertaining to the election and needed to get it out in writing.

Many people believe we live in a new and different country, one they do not recognize or thought still existed. I don’t think a new country could have formed overnight. This change has been fermenting for anywhere between 8 and 30 years.

I voted for Hillary. I didn’t think she was perfect but I admired her views and convictions and respected her experience. I was turned off by Donald’s rhetoric that emboldened hate and nervous we would make the most powerful person in the world hold a job they had zero qualifications for. While Hillary has nearly 2 million more popular votes than Donald, the electoral college vote gave Donald the win. He is our president.

There are a variety of responses to this new reality. Donald supporters can boast, Hillary supporters can vent, or we can work to understand each side. I wish to understand the thinking and desires of Donald supporters. I refuse to believe all Donald supporters are racist and uneducated (exit polls have shown that 30% of women voted for Donald and a similar amount of Hispanics did too).

I have found various media outlets to be either helpful or harmful in this effort to understand. Many blogs report every single solitary tweet by Donald or his “alleged” supporters, making it seem that all they are and do is reduced to offensiveness. Meanwhile I find many posts by David Brooks to be balanced and helpful. Brooks highlights the tendency to reduce people to caricatures (emphasis in bold is mine):

Large parts of popular culture — and pretty much all of stand-up comedy — consist of reducing people to one or another identity and then making jokes about that generalization. The people who worry about cultural appropriation reduce people to an ethnic category and argue that those outside can never understand it. A single identity walls off empathy and the imagination.
We’re even seeing a wave of voluntary reductionism. People feel besieged, or they’re intellectually lazy, so they reduce themselves to one category. Being an evangelical used to mean practicing a certain form of faith. But “evangelical” has gone from being an adjective to a noun, a simplistic tribal identity that commands Republican affiliation.
Unfortunately, if you reduce complex individuals to one thing you’ll go through life clueless about the world around you. People’s classifications now shape how they see the world.

I do not have answers to why each and every person voted for Donald. Truth is I never will. I personally would find it hard to trust his promises when he has never made any political promises before, trust his alleged ethics when he has flip flopped more than Mitt Romney, or simply vote enthusiastically for someone just because Hillary was anathema.

Trump has somewhat changed since winning the election. His 60 minutes interview shows a more somber personality, but his daily attacks on media resembles single party authoritarianism.

It’s been two weeks since the election. The raw emotion has begun to go away for me. I am willing to listen and learn. Let’s do this together.

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