Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Across The Divide

I cried myself to sleep last night.  I awoke to a grey, gloomy, rainy day in which Donald Trump is the President-elect of the United States. I'm still processing.  I think I'm grieving for the loss of the America I thought I knew and loved.

Let me preface this by saying politics is so not my thing. I usually don't discuss it publicly because I have family, friends and co-workers who don't think the way I think or believe the way I believe.  I respect their right to think and believe differently. I don't want to alienate or hurt anyone or destroy friendships that are otherwise enjoyable over a difference in ideology.  Although I am extremely grateful for the right to vote, there isn't much about the process I enjoy. In fact, I detest the incessant phone calls, heaps of mailed flyers, and endless negative advertising that we are forced to endure in any election year.

This campaign year was the worst ever. I was unhappy with the choice of candidates, embarrassed that this was the best America could offer for the highest position in the nation,  praying that a strong third party candidate would arise that I could get behind.

When it didn't happen, I spent a lot of time clicking through articles and trying to divine just what each candidate was promising to accomplish if elected. Trying hard to ignore all the bashing of the other candidate and all the negative advertising and just get down to the issues. Not easy, considering that neither candidate did a stellar job of clearly articulating their plans.  I knew Trump wanted to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, but no clue what he would put in its place. I knew Clinton was promising to create jobs, I wasn't clear on how. The protection of equality for all (regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or ability), the protection of our environment, the protection of a woman's right to autonomy in her own medical decisions, the protection of those seeking asylum from terrible situations not of their own making, among other things, informed my vote.  

As I was watching the election coverage last night, I was dismayed to learn that the support for Trump wasn't really about being Pro-Life or defending the right to own guns (maybe some of it was). It was about an army of poor working class white men (and women?) who feel their voices have been marginalized in favor of every other segment of the population (minorities, women, the disabled, LGBT, non-evangelical Christian religions, etc.), whose pay has stagnated, who have been left behind by the country that they loved. I imagine it is hard for them to accept that the country is growing and changing, and that soon they won't be the majority. Last night they made their voices were heard, loud and clear.  As a nation, we have to own that maybe we didn't listen when it mattered.  Maybe they have a point that needs to be considered.

But it hurts my heart that this economically disenfranchised group were so desperate to change the status quo, to shake up Washington, that they were willing to chance a vote for an openly racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, hate-mongering, violence inciting, tax cheat for the hope of a different future. I believe that the majority of these folks are decent, honest, hard-working people who don't condone the hate rhetoric spewed during the campaign. At least I hope so. If not, our country is far more screwed than I imagined.  I'm not naive enough to miss the factions of white supremacists who would love nothing more than to kick to the curb everyone who doesn't look or think or pray like them. That kind of hatred exists everywhere in some form.  But I like to believe that they constitute a rather small percentage of the population.  At least I hope so.

So today I'm processing what went down.  The pragmatic side of me acknowledges that in another week or month (or maybe not until after he takes office), everyone will settle into the reality that Donald Trump is the next President of the United States.  They will move on with their everyday lives.  The stock market will settle. We will begin the arduous task of trying to reunite this country. We are far more divided than I knew or was willing to believe possible, as evidenced by the nearly even split in the popular vote.  

Already Trump has surprised me. First that he won. And second, that his victory speech was almost presidential. He didn't gloat. He sounded sincere about wanting to be the President for "everyone."  (Which I admit is totally at odds with comments he made about women, minorities, immigrants, the disabled, and Muslims during his campaign).  I hope that Trump will bring some good to this country, that by shaking up government he will be able to make a positive change in some way. I hope he will prove wrong all of our fears about his capability to fulfill the highest calling in the nation. I hope that his "crazy" was an act, a means to an end, and that we are not giving a man who is truly mentally ill the keys to the kingdom. I don't have to like him at all to hope he succeeds as our President. I will join the rank and file in granting him a peaceful transition to power and pray that he is a quick learner and can step up to the job of being leader of our country.

As for me, I can't change the results of the election, but I can accept them gracefully and without rancor. I can work within my own sphere of influence.  My intention is to live my life as fully and as happily as I can. To be as kind and generous as I can. To commiserate with those who think and believe like me.  To reach across the divide to those who don't, and to find common ground to move forward. I intend to let my light shine as brightly as I am able.  And I hope that whatever good I do, whatever love and kindness I show, whatever light I shine, will help to balance the scales against fear and hatred, and help to light the darkness.


alexa said...

Your maturity and wisdom in the last paragraph shines through - and having gone through Brexit. I can relate to the shock of experiencing so sharply how divided a nation can be. (I am still reeling, truthfully). Hoping, like you, that there will a peaceful, thoughtful and incliusive way forward.

Karen said...

I went to bed anxious, was awake in the night equally anxious, and awoke to more anxiety than I've felt in a long, long time. I hope Trump is able to rise to fill with dignity the position to which he has been elected, and that there will be some way of reconciling the deep divisions that exist in our country. Like you, I'm trying to think of ways I can promote that in my own little corner of the world.

Carola Bartz said...

Yesterday and this morning I was sick to my stomach. Being together with friends today helped me a lot. Reading your blogpost I can whole heartedly agree to everything you have written here.

I still worry for my daughter's future. We texted a lot yesterday evening and I pretty much told her what you wrote in your last paragraph. This is what I will do in my own little world, and I have found so many who think in the same terms. There is hope.

helena said...

I feel your hurt and anxiety and puzzlement and know that what we feel watching from afar can only be a fraction of what you all feel who are living there. I hope that he can amaze us all in how he acts as President. Your conclusion is heart warming - sending so many positive vibes across the Atlantic to support all of you already thinking of positive ways to act in the face of such division

Sian said...

I come from a place with divided, dangerous politics. I thought I'd seen it all. But this? I feel your shock and bewilderment.

Barbara Eads said...

I'm a republican and have no problem saying that out loud. But I did not vote for Trump. Nor did I vote for Hillary. I couldn't even say one or the other was the lesser of two evils. They are both morally corrupt. I am sad that this was the best we had to pick from. I was also shocked at the outcome. But here's what I believe. #1 The American people should STOP believing everything the biased media feeds us. #2 There are many checks and balances within our government that has worked for 200 years---I have faith that it will now. #3 As much as I may not like Trump--he truly could not have built a billion dollar company with the attitudes that were portrayed during the campaign. He's smart enough to surround himself with intelligent capable people to guide him. I'm praying for that. This election in no way felt like a "win." Like you, I was hoping that maybe the American people would have done something radical and voted for one of the lesser known candidates and really made history!

Missus Wookie said...

Rebuilding needs to happen on both side of the pond, shocks and hurts are felt from all sides. My hope is those who were driven to register to vote and turn up, will continue to do so. That people will stand up against the hateful stuff and stand up for the good stuff. But then that's been my hope for a long time.

debs14 said...

Beautifully written. I'm still shocked that he is going to be President and I just hope that he surprises us all and turns out not to be as nasty and unstable as he seemed in some of the debates I saw.

Susanne said...

I hope we are all able to move forward past the divisive politics and name-calling - but I fear it may take a very long time as the latter is still happening in earnest even now. If we all focus on being kind to one another right where we are, hopefully it will hasten the healing.