On Democracy, Empathy, and Understanding After the 2016 Election

I am a white woman with a college education and a job. I voted for Hillary because I thought her policies would be in the best interest of moving America forward without making strides backward. I have family and friends who voted for Trump. I do not think that they are unkind, hateful people.

Yet I have also seen unkind, hateful people use Trump’s victory as an excuse to commit injustices against others who are different, who are women, who are Muslims, who are immigrants, who are transgendered, who simply voted differently than them. That, I will never condone.

It’s true, I have a hard time understanding how people could vote for Trump. I do not believe that his policies take precedence over how he advocates treating others. Civil liberties are very important to me, and I won’t be swayed by demagogues who use fear to rile people up. I understand his policies are tempting to some, but to me, they’re not worth the cost.

I think the statement “All Trump supporters are racist and misogynistic” is not true, but I would like to know how Trump supporters reconcile the fact that there is a large subset of those supporters who do things like thisthis, and this. (I encourage everyone to be aware of the hate crimes that are being documented on Shaun King’s Twitter in just the first 24 hours of Trump’s election victory) I would like to know what you plan to do to address this, because I have students, kids, who are affected by this hate and violence.

I want Trump to succeed in making America a better place. I would love to see term limits imposed on Congress. I would love to see jobs return to this country, factory jobs too. But at what cost? Can Trump really deliver on the things he has promised? Can any politician? I can only hope that Trump is more competent (or can at least hire competent people) than he appeared on the campaign trail.

Yes, I’m embarrassed that he’s our president-elect. I’d like to think that policies and tangible results are more important than character, but I can’t say character isn’t important at all. What kind of example are we setting for kids? I’ve had students tell me that they’ve said or done something unkind because they saw a celebrity or Youtube star do it and thought it would be ok; how will it look when they can point to the President as a justification for this behavior? How can I feel like the President cares for my interest, when he apparently has no regard for half the population when he has no problem “grab[bing] them by the pussy”? I’m hoping I’m wrong, but can you understand why I’m a little hesitant to trust him?

Yes, I am apprehensive about my future. I don’t believe that an ultra-conservatism government aligns with my ideals or what best benefits me. I don’t believe in a conservative-leaning Supreme Court or corporate-aligned leaders with their own agendas should be in positions of power. I’m worried about my friends’ safety and rights; they’ve already been met with hate and resistance. I hope my worry is misplaced. I hope people will treat others with respect and dignity. I hope judges will interpret the law fairly, not impose their beliefs on others. I hope corporations in power will not be as corrupt as politicians in power.

I’m not saying Hillary was perfect. She has had controversy, but what politician hasn’t? Don’t tell me that Donald Trump is exempt. But Clinton had experience where I don’t feel Donald Trump does. Some of the policies he presented during the campaign I agree with, but many of his “policies” were empty ideas. “We will bring back companies to America and give jobs to Americans!” Yes! That’d be great! But how exactly do you plan to do that? Plans to withdraw from NAFTA and impose tariffs on businesses who want to ship jobs overseas won’t necessarily bring lost jobs back. I’m all for a businessman to shake up politics, but Trump isn’t who I would’ve picked; I don’t feel that he is qualified. I hope I am wrong.

I will respect our government. I believe we all want to work for a better world. I am coming to the table with an open mind. We can disagree on what the best approach may be. Both Democrats and Republicans could stand to do more listening to the other side, to different opinions, to practicing empathy. But the moment ANYONE disregards listening, civilized discussion, and trying to work towards common prosperity and decency aside to spout racist, xenophobic, misogynistic hate, you no longer have my respect.

Democrats and Republicans: I ask that you try to listen to people who have different views that you. I ask that you not jump to conclusions or attack people. I ask that you have keep an open mind and try to learn something. I ask that you be critical of the media to which you listen. I ask that you try to find sources of information that are not biased, or at least try to get both sides of any story.

I also ask that you not make generalizations about me. Telling liberals to “stop crying because things aren’t politically correct and go get a job!” (Yes, I’ve seen it around Facebook) is just as bad as me telling “you rednecks to stop waving your Confederate flags and go get an education!” There’s too much hypocrisy in the world as it is.

Let’s be better than hatred.

  • Very well written! I’m not an American, but we all know that USA politics affect the rest of the world. My country’s economy started showing bad signs merely hours after USA election. Being a Muslim woman from a third world country, I can’t help but feeling a bit scared after Trump was elected. Seeing the news on Twitter and Facebook scares the hell out of me. We can only hope that things will not be as bad as we imagine 🙁

    • Thanks, Dara (and thanks for the share!) I’m really curious as to how the rest of the world is viewing this election. I’m trying not to make snap judgements on things like the economy and markets; I think they need a little time to even out from the shock, but hopefully they do. The violence and fear though, that has no place here or anywhere.

  • Amy

    Seeing the election result in the UK felt very much like it did earlier in the year after we had the EU referendum (or the Brexit vote). We had the same disagreements and arguments between the two sides, and these are still going on now almost six months later. For me, the uncertainty is one of the big issues. We don’t know what life will be like once we leave the EU, how it will affect businesses, employment rights, travel, immigration, healthcare etc etc. In the same way, no one knows if Trump will become a restrained President, in contrast to his campaign, or what policies he will act on. I hope that things do ultimately improve and our fears don’t become reality, but in the meantime, you’re right, hatred doesn’t help anyone.

    • I’ve seen a lot of people compare the anxiety and not-knowing to the feelings of people post-Brexit. I guess I didn’t think the U.S. would watch something so divisive like the Brexit happen and then turn around and put themselves in a similarly divisive position. The uncertainly, I think you’re right, is one of the big parts of it all. Trump has posed some good ideas, I think (like term limits on Congress…that’s actually the only good one I can think of right now…) But he’s also doubled back on some ideas, appointed questionable people, been hypocritically wishy-washy on both sides, and it feels like he’s a bag of unstable dynamite.

  • Kay

    I completely agree with this. Though I do sometimes have a hard time not being completely cynical about it, especially as he keeps naming the members of his cabinet some of whom are just deplorable. I definitely don’t think every single person who voted for him is a racist or a misogynist. But the fact that he is so open about being BOTH of those things, to still put support behind him is not acceptable to me. Combine that with his complete lack of political experience and multiple failures in business, I am truly baffled as to why anyone could put a vote in for him. However, he is now the reality. What he will do as president remains to be seen. He seemed so unstable during the election, I truly can’t predict what he may or may not do for this country. And it’s not like you can take his word on anything, which he constantly flip-flops on (which I feel is pretty common in the political world.) Reading back, I feel like this comment really isn’t that useful. Ugh. I guess I can sum up with I’m scared for my own rights as well as those of my friends, I’m even MORE scared for the environment, and I can only hope that he doesn’t inflict too much damage over the next four years. But during that time, I will be doing all I can to live my life in the best way possible, with the values I hold true.

    • I’m trying to understand how people could ignore the racism and misogyny, but also his lack of experience. And now the flip-flopping…not that it’s uncommon, but what’s the reaction going to be? I’ve disagreed with politicians before, but never felt scared for, frankly, this country, the environment, everything. I really hope we don’t go in reverse, and I certainly hope some of the check and balances hold up so that Trump doesn’t have the immense power to basically do what he wants.