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September 2017

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I couldn’t bring myself to watch the election coverage yesterday. The campaign has been going on for so long, and has been so ugly, that I was just exhausted.  I was in line to vote before the polls opened, and then I carefully avoided election news for the rest of the day.  Just before I went to bed, I saw some unsettling posts on Facebook that suggested that my confidence that the safety net of the Electoral College would protect us from mob-acracy might be misplaced, but it wasn’t conclusive.  So when I got up this morning and turned on the TV and learned that Mr. Trump had won the election, I was stunned.

We, as a nation, have allowed our fear to dictate our choice. I have just perused my Facebook feed, and have seen many people speculate about the reasons for this outcome.  I agree with those who indicate that fear and anger are probably the primary reasons. Too many people in this country are afraid.  They fear the strangers among us, whether they be illegal immigrants, or muslim refugees, or people with different sexual orientations or gender identities.  They fear for their personal future, that they won’t be able to afford to pay their bills, feed their families, provide a home.  The fear change, because it makes them uncomfortable, and challenges their core beliefs.

And they’re angry.  They are angry because they don’t feel heard or understood.  They feel like their fear is being laughed at, being made fun of, is considered to be the product of their ignorance.  They are angry because they don’t hear their concerns and needs being discussed in our politics.  The feel like they are either ignored, or looked down upon.  And they are tired of feeling like they don’t matter.

They are so afraid and angry that they were willing to vote for a man who is clearly and obviously not qualified for the Office to which we have just elected him.  In their hearts, I think they know this.  But he was willing to acknowledge them, and because they don’t feel like anyone else did, that was enough.

Unfortunately, I think that many of those people who voted for Mr. Trump because they believed that he spoke for them are going to be very disappointed.  I don’t think he speaks for (or cares about) anyone but himself.  His presidency is not going to do any more to address the fears, concerns, or needs of those who voted for him than anyone else has.  In the meantime, the tenor of his campaign has given the patina of legitimacy to all manner of ugly speech. Much of the progress we have made towards inclusion and equality is going to erode, and it will take some time to rebuild our structures of tolerance and compassion.

I honestly believe that Mrs. Clinton was her own worst enemy. In her own way it was fear that did her in.  She allowed her fear of embarrassment to dictate a policy of obfuscation that made her look guilty of covering up wrong-doing.  Rather than acknowledging her mistakes and promising to learn from them, she was afraid that her enemies would use them against her, so her instinct was to try to prevent those enemies from finding out.  This was a self-defeating strategy, because when her opponents did find out (as they inevitably would), her mistakes appear even worse because of the efforts to hide them.  This pattern has persisted over her entire career, and it has created a public perception of her as a scheming, manipulative operator who only cares about getting and holding power.  I think she would have been far better served by transparency over the years.  In acknowledging mistakes and learning from them, I think people would have been better able to see past the mistakes to her vision for the country.

The votes have been counted.  To say that I am unhappy with the result is a gross understatement.  But I will not claim that the results are invalid or fraudulent. I will grit my teeth and cross my fingers and hope (against all hope) for the best. But for this country to move forward, one thing needs to change. We need to start listening to each other.  We need to stop calling each other names and dismissing the concerns of the other side as “stupid” or “evil”.  If we could take a moment to actually listen to the needs, concerns, and fears of our opponents, then we just might have a chance to work together in ways that are constructive, rather than divisive.  Compromise is not a dirty word.  It is how we get things done.  No one gets everything they want, but everyone gets at least a little something. But that is only possible if we know what the other side needs.  I have no illusions that the rhetoric is going to change, but I will try to do my best to set an example.  I will try to listen to those who disagree with me and to try to understand their point of view.  If we each make that little effort, then maybe we can slowly change the direction we are headed.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-09 02:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My initia reaction is to hide away from the world. But if the sane ones do, the insane will win. So I hope the sane people of this world will fight for justice and sanity.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-10 01:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good post, Andy. Wise words.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-10 11:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I opened up my Live Journal just because I was hoping that you had posted about this. For me, this feels like the death of common decency in America and I am as sick with grief as I was when my father died 13 years ago. Knowing that you have lived through worse devastation and found a way to cope and to write about it in inspiring and eloquent terms, I was looking to you again for a way to proceed. Thanks for not letting me down.

Hugs to all of us struggling to accept this new America!

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