Our Democracy is Messy and Peaceful

By | November 9, 2016

I was awake until 5 am this morning, like many Americans.  I finally dragged myself to bed hoping that when I awoke, I would learn it was just a nightmare and Hillary Clinton would become our next President (and first female to hold the highest office in the US). 

Alas, that was not to be.  Donald Trump captured the Electoral College to win:

Clinton:   59,739,870 votes              228 Electoral Votes

Trump:     59,520,091 votes               279 Electoral Votes

I’ve spent the day texting, messaging, and talking to friends and family who are experiencing a disappointment that is much deeper than partisan politics and ideology.  In fact, most of them would not describe themselves as political types.  

(full disclosure: My undergraduate degree is in Political Science and Public Administration, so obviously I have a keen interest in how societies function. This doesn’t make me an expert; yet I am more curious from an academic and historical perspective than the average bear).  

“We will get through this together”

To my friends and family who are hurting and feel less safe because of the Trump/Pence win, I am with you. You don’t have to defend your feelings and opinions to those who voted against Clinton/Kaine. There are millions of people who do believe in your inherent worth and dignity and will stand with you.  This election is by no means a resounding support for the rude and sometimes cruel statements and vague promises to diminish your standing in this country. And as tempting as it feels, not all the Trump voters believe those things he said and tweeted about Mexicans, Muslims, gays, women, those blacks, hombres, war captives, and public figures. I know it feels that way if you spend time on social media.  I am optimistic that we will become stronger in the broken places.

To Trump/Pence Supporters

To my friends and family who voted for Trump/Pence: congratulations. Please be good sports about your win. Please do not gloat in front of the other half of voters who voted for Clinton/Kaine. It’s going to take more than 24 hours to process what feels like a terrible loss.  You may believe you were in these shoes when Barack Obama won, so let me explain how this one is different.  Then let’s figure out how to move forward. 

“I’m not a racist or misogynist”

I see on social media that some of you are being called out as a bigot, racist, misogynist, or xenophobe because you voted for Trump. That hurts! Remember that Trump insulted so many people repeatedly with reckless tweets, statements, and speeches. You may not agree with all those things he said. I get it. But he said those things. Many times. So please do not try to defend your choice by name calling, blaming, and claiming the high road. Please take a deep breath and hold that feeling for a minute. It feels awful, right?

“I Voted for Change”

You got a different message from the campaign, I get it. You voted for Trump/Pence because you want to kick all the bums out and shake up Washington, DC. You want good jobs back in your community so families can live decent lives with financial security. Less government in form of taxes and regulations sound appealing. I get it. You focused on one part of his message. 

“What are they complaining about?”

Now, from your position of strength (you won!), try this: LISTEN… really listen… to what Clinton/Kaine supporters are upset about. You may or may not have personal relationships with people who are different from you (like sharing meals in your home, knowing their loved ones names, ages, etc.). I’m not judging… stay with me here. You will read or hear that people (including kids) are feeling insecure about their standing as citizens in this great country:  

  • Will I lose my retirement/college fund/savings because of market uncertainty?
  • Will my kids endure more bullying at school because they look different/speak with an accent/dress differently/worship differently?
  • Do religious liberty and free speech only apply to Christians now?
  • Will harassment and discrimination get worse because I am female/gay/transgender/Muslim/Jewish/Arab/Asian/black/disabled?
  • Will I lose my job now because I am different?
  • Will my marriage be nullified? What will happen to my family?
  • Will anyone believe me if I am sexually assaulted?
  • Will the government take away my agency of my reproductive system?
  • Will I lose my health insurance when they repeal the Affordable Care Act because of my pre-existing condition?
  • Is it now okay for hate groups to use free speech to create a hostile environment?
  • Will there be retribution for me speaking my truth?
  • Will there be more gun violence or show of force with looser gun regulation?
  • Will more of our groundwater become polluted and undrinkable if regulations are lifted on big farms and manufacturing waste? Who would fix it?

These are real concerns because the sentiments and words blasted across all forms of media for over a year created this. No one likes to feel “less than.” If you have ever felt that you or your child was under some sort of threat, you can understand how the protective lion can roar. And it is hard to focus on tomorrow when the pain is real today. But it, too, shall pass.

So please, take the high road and recognize that others experience the world differently. We will get through this. We will grow through this IF you can show compassion for those who are feeling great loss. Please do not pile on. Resist the urge to defend your good name or your vote.  Just let people feel and heal in peace.

The Blind Men and the Elephant

Ancient Hindu fable, turned into this poem by John Godfrey Saxe

(sharing because I like rhyme)

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me!—but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried:”Ho!—what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ‘t is mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:

“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
” ‘T is clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

moral:

So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

Let’s Get Started!

When we each acknowledge that there are more facts than we hold in each of our truths, our minds and hearts open to delightful possibilities. A feeling of abundance fuels generosity. The feeling of scarcity fuels fear, frustration and isolation.  

I believe that my family and friends who voted for Trump/Pence are also kind, loving, and generous people. I’ve seen you in action. So please, show in your words and your deeds that you will not stand by and watch people be marginalized for living the very freedoms that you enjoy. Stand on the side of Love. 

Leadership begins in each of us. Take the first step. Start with a smile. Add some music or dance or fine art or food and get to know one another beyond face value. Let’s tap into that American spirit of curiosity, community and creativity that welcomes everyone to bring their best selves forward for the greater good. We can do this!

 

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