It’s been a week and we’re all still alive. There’s been deep grieving and deep joy. It’s time to move on. Let’s look at a few inconvenient truths about this election and politics in general in the spirit of trying to bring a hearty dash of reason and healing to the table.
If you voted for or against a candidate solely or primarily because s/he is white/black/male/female/other/gay/Hispanic/non-gay/non-Hispanic/Democrat/Republican/Independent/Green Party/Tea Party, etc., you’re missing the point and are part of the problem. I heard in this election “It’s time for a woman to be president.” Great. If you voted for Clinton because she’s a woman, (I’m going to use all last names here in the interest of equality), would you have voted for Condelezza Rice? She’s both woman and black, so you could scored twice. If you voted for Trump because he’s white, would you have voted for Biden? Step back, take a few breaths, and be honest. And while I’m on this, guess what? Blacks (and Hispanics) and women can be conservatives and shouldn’t be attacked for it, as if by race and gender they’re supposed to automatically be Democrats. By the same token, Christians, small town people, and farmers might actually be Democrats. I know. Radical stuff. I hope you were sitting down.If you believe that people who voted against Hillary hate women, that those who in previous elections voted against Obama hate blacks, those who voted against Trump hate whites (or men with bad hair), you’d be right part of the time, but you’d mostly be wrong, dangerously wrong. You’d also cut off any discussion about what really matters: issues.
Naturally there are always disagreements on issues: what the real issues are, what the most important ones are, how to deal with any of them, and so on. But when what I mention in the two paragraphs above comes first, there’s virtually nothing else. We never get to the issues.
Get used to the idea that people can disagree on issues without being bad or ignorant. Pejoratives and foul language divide, not unify, stifle dialogue, not encourage it. We have to try to understand the other person’s position, whether or not we agree with it, otherwise we’re doomed, politically and individually.
Let me use a hot-button example to try to explain what I mean. Let’s use abortion. Try really, really hard to turn off emotions; just read and think.
The pro-abortion side contends is it’s the woman’s right to choose, asks what about women who are raped, says that having an unwanted child can ruin a life. The time that a fetus becomes a person tends to be a bit hazy or not mentioned. Therefore, if a fetus is only child when s/he hits the air, “it” can be gotten rid of at any time the mother chooses. The focus is on the mother first.
People against abortion tend to believe that life starts at or close to conception and that the unborn child is a child, a person, throughout the pregnancy, not just at birth. Therefore, aborting that person is taking a life. The focus is on the child first.
Are those two views reconcilable in any way? If a child isn’t human until birth, it doesn’t matter what’s done to it pre-birth and if it is a person that whole time, how can killing it be justified? It’s difficult enough to talk about all this if name-calling and hate aren’t involved, impossible when they are. Is there no middle ground? People on both sides care. The primary focus of their care is different.
About 25 years ago, Clinton said abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” It’s safe and legal, but certainly not rare. If it were all three, there might be some ground of coming together. Women who have abortions, no matter what they say, often are haunted by it for years. So don’t think all abortions are thoughtlessly and blithely done. Understand that a teen who finds herself pregnant may be frightened and worried about how this will impact her. On the other hand, why would anyone think that concern for the unborn child is bad? “Choice” is a word thrown around. Perhaps the choice could come by abstinence until marriage, by use of birth control, by vasectomies or having tubes tied, by choosing to give the baby up for adoption. There are many people willing to adopt children who have to go overseas to find them. There is a right to picket abortion sites, just as there’s a right for free access and not being harassed. If you think abortion is fine, why be afraid to let a pregnant woman have a ultrasound and see the child before making a decision? Shouldn’t they be given all options? If a woman decides to have an abortion, do you think vilifying her will help? And let’s not even talk about a father’s right.
I could go on, but you get the idea, I hope. Standing on literal sides screaming at one another over figurative sides only hardens the battle lines and bad feelings. Recognize that those on the other side are people, too.
A few other facts:
The election was legal. Protests if you like; don’t riot.
The electoral college is in place for a reason. If you don’t really understand it, go here: https://www.prageru.com/courses/political-science/do-you-understand-electoral-college. If you try to change the system every time your candidate loses, don’t you think that will happen from the other side when your candidate wins?.
Every person who runs for president or is in Congress is rich regardless of party. Bi-partisan law ensured that will continue. If we don’t like that law, we need to lobby our elected officials to change it. Every elected official is influenced by special interest groups, either the ones you like or the ones you don’t. It will always be that way unless the elected official has a spine.
Most news these days isn’t news. It’s opinion. There used to an opinion page in every newspaper. There rest of the reporting was “just the facts, Ma’am.” Joe Friday is gone and so is most of the reporting. It’s unacknowledged opinion. If you think that celebrities know more about politics or anything else (other than acting/singing) than anyone else, grow up. They’re entitled to their opinions, they’re entitled to talk about them, even though the “news” gives them much more coverage than anyone else. Just don’t look at them as political pundits. Think those who threatened to leave will. No way! They make too much money and get too much adulation to leave. It didn’t happen when Bush was re-elected and it won’t happen now.
The internet and Facebook are at once marvelous and terrible dangerous. It’s difficult to ascertain what’s true and what isn’t. It’s easy to be vicious, vulgar, and nasty when you don’t have to face the person you’re attacking. It’s impossible to take back those attacks even if you delete them. Before you post something, especially if it seems unbelievable, either don’t post it or look into it. Do you really think Bill Gates got rich by giving everyone who “shared” this post $100? And that’s just a ridiculous, not a dangerous example. Before you respond in anger to someone else’s post, get off of FB or away from the article, and do something else for a bit. Then think how you can make your point winsomely rather than disgustingly. If you can’t, keep quiet.
In this election specifically, realize that the people who didn’t vote for Clinton aren’t stupid and whatever other insult you throw at them just because they chose a different candidate. They’re tired of being insulted, tired of being marginalized, tired of policies they don’t see as helpful or beneficial. In most cases, it has nothing to do with race or gender. It has to do with a vision for the country, with jobs, taxation, spending, education (or a lack thereof), or a combination of these and/or other reasons. If you voted for Trump, give those on the Clinton side of the vote the same consideration. More people crossed lines last week than you’d think.
Trump hasn’t yet taken office! We don’t know what he’ll do. Just because he chooses conservative cabinet members and people with whom to work, doesn’t mean they or he are evil. Clinton would have chosen liberals as did Obama. That’s what presidents do!!!
Now is the time for Republicans to get off their duffs and do something and not just side automatically with big business or against the environment. But know that Democrats who were crying “Obstructionist!!” at every turn, will now morph into those doing the obstructing. They shouldn’t assume that all big business is bad or that animals always trump humans. Wouldn’t it be nice if all these people would actually look for places where they could come together and do some agreeing, not just spend our money like mad men?
That reminds me. If you say, “The government will pay for it”, that money comes out of your pocket and mine. There’s a LOT of money being collected. There’s a lot of money being wasted. Those 1%-er’s? They and the top 10% pay almost all of the income taxes taken in. As far as taxes, if Trump cheated on his taxes, that’s one thing. If he just didn’t pay more than he legally had to, give him a break. Do you send in money you don’t have to to the IRS to fritter away on parties? I certainly don’t!
Finally, on the personal level. What makes me want to throw up isn’t the result of any election. It’s that so many are willing to publicly savage people they thought of as friends as well as people they don’t even know. Not Facebook friends, but people they know in person and love but have no unfriended, whether on FB or in person. If we as a people are willing to do these sorts of things, what the hell is the matter with us and how the hell do we plan to continue as a nation?
Full disclosure: I want to hear from you. I love comments and I don’t have a problem with comments that disagree with something I wrote. I will delete any comments that are vulgar or nasty.