When I woke up last November 10th, I felt the same feelings many of you have voiced. I was sad, frustrated, and confused. To me, the fact that our country voted Donald Trump into the highest regarded office in our nation meant that there were more people filled with hate and resentment than I had ever believed true.
However, I soon realized that there were people that I knew and respected and even loved that had voted for this man. People that I knew weren’t hateful or racist or uneducated.
People who had great character and agreed with me on the fundamental rights and respect for other human beings no matter their race, religion, or sexual orientation. So what the hell was going on?
How could they possibly vote for someone who so carelessly spoke of sexually harassing women? Who has no government experience and is by most measurements completely unqualified for the position of President?
So, since November 10th, I’ve been listening. I’ve been reading and talking and trying to understand.
What I’ve found is that there is something a lot of Pro-Trump and Anti-Trump supporters have in common. They refuse to do this seemingly simple act. They refuse to listen to each other. They refuse to consider an opinion that differs from their own.
I’ve seen social media posts about people having to delete friends and followers, because they’re posting opinions that they don’t agree with. People talk about boycotting television stations or newspapers, because they are critical of what their candidate said or did.
It’s this kind of thinking and action that has helped bring us to this great point of division. We can so easily block out opinions that don’t align with our own that we’ve put ourselves into a bubble. We’ve made the political realm into us versus them instead of one group of citizens trying to make the best choices for their country as a whole.
I get it, it’s much easier to categorize everyone who voted for Trump as uneducated racists than to actually listen to them and try to understand why they voted for him. It’s much simpler than hearing that while you may have felt you were making progress and thriving, they’ve felt let down by the administration these past eight years.
They’ve been trying to come back from a failed economy that never got better for them. They no longer trusted the typical political figures and they saw Donald Trump as a way out, despite his faults.
It’s also so much more satisfying to call those that are protesting against his presidency “whining liberals” instead of listening to their fears for themselves or those they care about.
These fears are not unjustified — they are based on things President Trump has said and the people he surrounds himself with. You can tell them nothing has happened yet, but you can’t fault them for not wanting to wait around for their fears to come true.
Simplifying each other like this, labeling each other without trying to understand where these opinions and ideas come from, is further damaging our country. There has always been division among the parties. For years now it’s seemed like Republicans and Democrats are disagreeing with each other just to disagree.
Still, this feels different. We’re not only disagreeing with each other — we’re demonizing those whose beliefs don’t align with our own. We’ve made our fellow citizens into enemies. If we continue down this path, we won’t need to worry about outside threats. We’re just going to tear this country apart from the inside.
To be clear, I’m not talking about those that spew hate. Those that are using this election to justify their racist and hateful beliefs are not worth your time or understanding.
In my experience, these people are the minority of Trump supporters. The majority of those that I have spoken to or read opinions from do not come from a place of hate.
I understand it’s difficult to try and reach out to someone who is labeling you as lazy, unpatriotic, stupid, or racist, because you disagree with their political ideologies. It might make it a little easier when you stop and realize that we’re all essentially fighting for the same thing.
We all want this country to thrive and succeed, because it means a better life for all of us. We might disagree on how to get there, but that doesn’t make it impossible to try and work together anyway.
So reach out to your friend posting about how hopeful they are for the future now that President Trump is in office instead of blocking them. Ask them what they feel he has to offer.
Read that article about the meaning behind millions of people marching around the world instead of immediately dismissing it as the words of a bunch of complaining women. I’m not expecting you to change each other’s opinions, but a little compassion and understanding can go a long way towards building our broken relationships.
At least try to see where your fellow citizens are coming from. Listen to their experiences and why they think the way they do.
Remember, we are the United States of America and don’t fool yourselves, divided we are weak.