Please excuse yet another reaction piece thrown into the internet. Normally I would ignore a subject already so saturated with opinions, but this election cycle has given me reason to think about a lot of important things I had never considered before. I don’t want to talk about whether or not I think that the result was just, or moral. I don’t want to talk about my personal beliefs about either candidate (but I will). I want to look at the result and take it as an opportunity not to say that I think the people who don’t share my convictions are stupid, wrong, entitled, racist, xenophobic, or any other negative adjectives. I don’t presume to know why people voted for one candidate or the other beyond that they believed that the individual they chose would create a better future. I want to try and understand why the “silent majority” who everybody thought a phantom until Tuesday believe that Donald Trump will create a better future.
The results of the election showed me that I am completely out of touch with much of America. Growing up, I think most people consider themselves typical Americans. We see and experience things around us, and those things come to define to us what normal America is. In my day to day life, I know of one person who supported Donald Trump during the presidential election, so I was shocked with many others when he won the presidential election. Because of my upbringing in the democratic stronghold of Vermont, I have only ever encountered democrats regularly. Due to this I will be speaking mostly of trying to understand those who voted for Donald Trump, as this is a mindset I have not encountered as often and therefore don’t understand as well.
Donald Trump’s victory told me not that those who voted for Trump didn’t know something that I did, but that I knew nothing about them. People should not insult people who voted differently, but strive to understand those differences. No disagreement has ever been solved by telling one side that they are dumb and simply don’t understand why they are so wrong. There’s no need for name calling, nobody voted with the detriment of others foremost in their minds, they voted because they wanted better lives, with the livelihood of others secondary at best in their considerations. To say that his supporters did not have malicious primary intentions is not to say that Donald Trump has not done things which are objectively bad. He has demeaned the handicapped, made repeated misogynistic remarks, bragged about sexual assault, denigrated the parents of a fallen soldier, and made numerous xenophobic remarks directed towards Muslims and Latinos. Donald Trump’s sins do not mean that those who voted for Donald Trump sin likewise. Between my belief that people don’t support Trumps transgressions and the fact that so many supported him regardless, I see an indication of how desperate so many people are for change. They voted for him because they believe that through his policies, although seen as racist, sexist, etc. to many, they could experience a better style of living.
If you are a Hillary supporter, just try and imagine how dire your circumstances would have to be for you to overlook all those character faults in your leader, or even to embrace them in a type of desperation. I’m not saying that this is the case for every Trump supporter, but judging by the outcome I would wager that it is the case for many. I would find it difficult to move forward if I did not truly believe that deep down every person is acting out of a desire for justice. The most hate filled people are those who struggle with self-doubt and truly see themselves as downtrodden and treated unfairly. These people do not always seek justice through lashing out at others, but many times they do, and their hatred manifests itself as racism, sexism, xenophobia, intolerance, and myriad other forms of despicable behavior. I’m not saying that Trump supporters have all of these characteristics, just as I’m not saying that Hillary supporters don’t harbor these sentiments. The point I’m trying to make here is that sometimes a desire to change how things are is not always shown in the most direct way. In the same way that many vote democrat because of a belief in the ideals espoused by the democratic party more than any concrete plans, I think we have to try and understand that for many Trump supporters there was an inexorable hope in the future that overrode their misgivings about Trump. Democrats saying that every person who voted for Trump is racist or sexist isn’t productive, accurate, or fair. People vote for a million unknowable reasons, but enough people voted for Trump that we can safely assume that they have some belief that we are not aware of and don’t understand. Please don’t be fooled, these aren’t facts, just my beliefs. Not to continuously qualify my statements, but I feel it important to note that the cause of such intolerable acts does not excuse the acts, but simply help us understand what could bring people to such a point. Just because a person feels that they have been forgotten by society is absolutely not a reason to forget how to be a part of society. Intolerance of any type is deplorable and has no place in the United States of America, but I don’t think voting for Trump necessarily evidences that.
If you have read this, thank you. I know it is a bit rambling and schizophrenic, but that has been my mindset since Tuesday night. I may write more because I can’t stop thinking about it. Do not misinterpret this as me pitying or feeling sorry for Trump supporters; I’m not and I don’t. This is me realizing that I’ve been a shitty person. Realizing that I have been one of the people unknowingly assimilated into one of two camps without realizing it. I don’t presume to know which camp is right and I will never have the right to judge another person. If I can pull together the disparate threads of my narration, I think what I’m trying to say is that nothing will get better as long as one camp sees itself as categorically different from the other. We are all Americans living on various gradients. While we can disagree, fight, elect those that many see as unfit for the White House; we must as recognize that there is a reason for this happening. Nobody was tricked, nobody was duped, nobody was bamboozled. People made a choice, and if we don’t strive to sympathize with and understand them instead of demonizing them, well then we will never understand how we were so wrong and will be continuously disappointed as we stubbornly complain.
P.S. It’s really fucked up that the DNC intentionally derailed their populist candidate because they thought he couldn’t win the general election.
P.P.S. I’m salty.
P.P.P.S. I’m a salty dog.