I finally couldn't avoid the blog post. So here it is.
We have been shocked to our core. NO ONE was prepared for the results of this election. NO ONE saw Trump squeezing out a win. NO ONE expected someone so ill fit for the job to become our next President.
(Okay, maybe the LA Times was onto something. Still, most people did not see this coming.)
So now what?
I've personally been listening intently this past week to my conservative and Trump supporting friends and family. I'm trying to expand my mind to see what I can gather from them and how to relate to their experience. It has been incredibly insightful so I wanted to share my takeaways.
TO MY CONSERVATIVE FRIENDS
We are not against you.
We are hurt. We are scared. We are upset.
This is more than just not getting our candidate or our party into office. We are not sore losers--we are feeling genuinely and realistically threatened.
This reaction is wholly about Donald Trump as a candidate. If it were Marco Rubio, or Jeb Bush, or Mitt Romney, or even George W. Bush again, we would not be in such arms. Upset we didn't win? Sure. But rioting in the streets? Unlikely.
From how we saw it, Clinton was the only viable and realistic candidate. For the elitist liberals, the view was that most Republicans couldn't even stomach Trump, so there's no way he had a chance in hell. Well, Election Day proved us all wrong!
Since the election, it has become clear that enough voters disliked Clinton so much as to convince them to hold their nose and vote for Trump. And it was enough! That was a shock to us! Comparatively, we believed had more enthusiastic Clinton supporters than conservatives had enthusiastics Trump supporters. We counted on the tally to be on our side. The polls, from MSNBC to Fox News, all showed Hillary Clinton with an easy win. And then BAM.
This visceral reaction is not about Republicans winning the White House (and maintaining the Senate and the House. And now being able to select a Supreme Court nominee. I mean, geez, y'all really won the lottery here, even without the popular vote!). We're protesting to flex our muscles and stand up for ourselves. We are making clear that we will not get walked on by a President Trump.
Listen, I can only speak for me on this point, but the optimistic side of me is very eager to see what change Donald Trump can bring!
He has a point when he says political hacks have been making poor business agreements.
That the trade deals we've made may not be benefiting enough of our American workers.
That foreign countries should be contributing to the defense we provide.
That Washington doesn't work like it should.
That Obamacare does not seem to be working. (See my renewal notice below).
Great and valid points! I'm open to these ideas and I'm sure there are others. But they are drowned out by the man he is. Donald Trump is a bigot.
He is a bold bigot!
We hear him question the citizenship of the first black President (but not the citizenship of immigrant born Bernie Sanders!).
We hear him call Mexicans rapists and murderers.
We hear him say we should disqualify a Mexican judge, not on merit, but simply because he is Mexican.
We hear him say he wants to ban Muslims from this country.
We hear him handily objectify women with ratings and brag about assaulting them.
It's embarrassing. We, as a country, are better than that kind of mentality and person. To quote a NY Times Op-Ed:
Let me be clear: Businessman Donald Trump was a bigot. Candidate Donald Trump was a bigot. Republican nominee Donald Trump was a bigot. And I can only assume that President Donald Trump will be a bigot.
It is absolutely possible that America didn’t elect him in spite of that, but because of it. Consider that for a second. Think about what that means. This is America right now: throwing its lot in with a man who named an alt-right sympathizer as his campaign chief.
How can I make sense of the fact that the president appeared in pornos?
How can I make sense of the fact that the man who will appoint the next attorney general has himself boasted of assaulting women?
What will this president’s vaunted “law and order” program for “inner cities” look like in an age where minority communities are already leery of police aggression?
How do I make sense of the fact that a man who attacked a federal judge for his “Mexican heritage” will be the man who will nominate the next Supreme Court justice and scores of federal judges?
I can’t make it make sense because it doesn’t. I must sit with the absurdity of it.
He makes the point--how can we trust this man's policies when his fundamental beliefs about our rights are not fair-minded, nor even clear?
In the Democratic party, it is my impression that this party cares deeply about respect, rights, and dignity moreso than it does about economics, success, and business. And that is where the parties differ on a fundamental level. If you're not feeling respected or dignified, there's no desire to worry about the bigger picture until that is settled.
Let me put this another way. Psychologist Abraham Maslow posited that there are varying levels of needs. If you don't have basic needs met, you will not have a desire for secondary or higher levels of needs. This is visualized in the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs:
So, for example, if you don't have security of food or water (the base level), then you are not concerned with feeling accomplished (higher on the pyramid). Make sense?
So let's add the two parties post this election:
I'm WAY overgeneralizing here, but currently, many of my Democrat friends are feeling belittled, endangered, threatened, and have reason to feel this way. Here are examples of where things could change for women, Muslims, LGBT folks, and immigrants, just as a sampling. And Donald being so unpredictable doesn't help! He has been incredibly hostile during his candidacy, and made no amends about it. He has even been threatening to limit press coverage of him! That's scary! So the reaction of many Democrats is to protest, rant on Facebook, cry with friends, and feel anger toward the system that seemingly legitimized a bigot to get the highest office on Earth.
All this to say: we are very willing to stand with you if you please stand with us against his bigotry.
Also, let me be very clear--just like most of us do not think the majority of Trump supporters are racists, bigots, xenophobes, and the like, most of Clinton supporters are not violent, threatening, and dangerous. (See the next section.) Right now, it doesn't feel like you acknowledge or care about our concerns because your candidate won. And you, dear reader, you personally probably don't exhibit this behavior.
Michael Rex said it best:
If you're a Trump voter who is tired of being called a bigot, if you say you voted for him based on gun rights or economic issues, or because you think Hillary really was that awful, and in spite of his rhetoric, rather than because of it, I believe you.
If you're in my life, I clearly don't think you're a vile hateful person. But if you're now watching protests across the country and you don't understand why, or think they are just being sore losers, let me break something down for you. These people aren't just angry or sad that someone they didn't support won the election, they're scared.
They're black Americans who hear talk of law and order and remember a racially charged stop and frisk program, or see an emboldened KKK holding a celebratory parade.
They're Muslim Americans who worry that spitting in their face is now okay and violations of their rights to assemble and their rights to privacy are about to come.
They're LGBT Americans who fear not just of the loss of marriage rights or restaurants gaining the right not to serve them, but of an administration that thinks it's more important to research electrocuting the gay out of them than AIDS.
They're Hispanic and Latino Americans who are scared their children will be bullied in schools, and their families ripped apart while their culture is mocked.
They're women who are wondering if we've normalized groping, and if their career endeavors will be judged by their face and body, and not their minds
I believe you when you say you didn't vote for any of these things. But if you didn't know that this is why they're protesting, if you think it's really just about free tuition or more government giveaways, then you, like the elite liberals, have also not been listening.
If you're tired of being called a bigot, then you need to use the same voice you used on Tuesday and speak out against these things fully and clearly. You need to reassure your friends and family members who feel like they no longer have a seat at the table that you still stand with them, even if your priorities were different.
Let's stand together.
TO MY LIBERAL FRIENDS
Donald Trump won the Presidency. (I mean, unless Electors in the Electoral College go rogue on December 19th.)
I've been devastated since Election Day and still have not come out from this dark cloud. I mourn that we will not have a President Hillary Clinton. That it is not time for our first female President. That Republicans have the majority in both the House and the Senate. That their tactics worked and the Supreme Court Justice will be nominated by a President Trump. Ugh.
A photo posted by Leigh (@laffingleigh) on Nov 9, 2016 at 7:51pm PST
But you know what? This is America. We're a fucking great country. And we have made a lot of great progress in the past 8 years.
There's a theory that we are always moving in a progressive direction. This is very much supported by looking at young generations. Unequivocally, the Millennials are the most progressive generation we have seen since the 1960's. We may have lost this battle, but we will not lose the war. It's only a matter of time.
But we live NOW. What about now, Leigh? What about the next 4 years? Or, God forbid, the next 8 years?
This is why I wanted to write this post. To do a post-mortem. How did this happen? And what can we do?
First of all, THIS is how this happened:
Take a good look at 2008, then 2012, then 2016. First, notice that the Republicans have basically pulled the same number of votes each time. In other words, nothing changed for them. Meanwhile, look at the Democratic voting from 2008 to 2016. Do you see what I mean?
Guys and gals, we failed to get the voters out. This is our fault.
I see this for 2 reasons:
Firstly, make no mistake, this is not because Republicans riled up their base. They actually turned out less than in the past three elections! The issue is that we did not motivate our own base.
Secondly, we failed hard at relating to and converting moderates and conservatives to our side. When you hear people talk about political elites, guess who they're talking about? YOU.
POOR TURNOUT OF DEMOCRATS
So what happened with us not motivating our base? How did we fail there? I have some theories, but this is totally an armchair evaluation that needs more discussion. Comparing our candidate (Hillary Clinton) to their candidate (Donald Trump), we failed in the charisma department. I've already shared this theory and immediately got pushback.
"HUH? Hillary Clinton doesn't have charisma? What are you talking about??! She was so even-keeled during those debates! She's so smart!"
I agree! But that's not charisma. She doesn't have the "it" factor. Donald Trump totally does. How many rallies did Hillary do that were outrageously attended? Philadelphia just before Election Day? And Election Night?
Also, people were not rallying around her physically. They weren't coming out to support her. That matters!
As David Axelrod, political analyst and former Chief Strategist of the Obama campaign, flatly pointed out, the Obama campaign "had a product to sell. We had a great candidate." He said that you if you don't have enthusiasm, all of the organization in the world isn't going to do anything.
Folks, that's REAL.
And listen, the game has changed. What didn't work? Ala Bill Maher, with my commentary below it, here are things that don't matter anymore:
Hillary raised $1 billion. Trump raised $500 million. HALF.
Who was campaigning for Hillary?
President Bill Clinton
President Barack Obama
First Lady Michelle Obama
Vice President Joe Biden
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Senator Bernie Sanders
Who was campaigning for Donald Trump?
Governor Mike Pence
Well, guess the message spoke louder than the candidate.
Celebrity Endorsements (from the top 100 money makers):
And ultimately, none of this mattered.
Also, some other takeaways from Bill Maher:
People lie to pollsters.
Don't nominate someone who can't do rallies.
Find someone who can talk to white people (who are 70% of the voters!).
Don't tell Americans you can't be that stupid.
Racism is a great product and sells itself.
The Russians are going to fuck with you and have a plan for that.
Ageism didn't work--Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders could have won.
Democrats: stop being so nice and politically correct.
POOR RELATIONS WITH MODERATES AND CONSERVATIVES
Now, regarding number 2, how did we fail to relate to moderates and conservatives? What were we failing to listen to? How were they feeling pushed aside by us?
First of all, let's remember, historically, the Democratic party is the party of the working class. The rust belt used to be our base! And us failing to secure their vote is why we lost this election! So it's incredibly important for us to understand what they were thinking.
My theory (part of which I gleaned from here), is that for the past decade, we've been telling white people, "Your time is up. We live in a multicultural world now. You need to shut up and sit at the table and recognize the privilege you've had all these years. It's time to have all of us at the table equally."
Well, shit. That's a dose of medicine they weren't ready for. Huh, you say? I'm talking about white privilege.
Privilege is never easily taken away. (You've got to read and share this.) And privilege taken away feels like, guess what? Oppression. Think about it:
Black Lives Matter: Black folks (or as Trump says, "The blacks") have not felt seen for quite some time. They feel like an invisible participant in this society. So they started the Black Lives Matter movement to say, "Hey, I'm here."
The privileged response? "Hey, black lives aren't more important than other lives. ALL lives matter. Stop stomping on my life."
Gay Rights: For years, the gay community has accepted their role as a secondary citizen. We are humans, sure, but we are not legally equal. We have not gotten the same rights as our neighbors simply because we have same sex attraction. It's time we demand for our rights.
The privileged response? "Hey, we have been doing things this way for MILLENNIA. You are ruining the fabric of society by changing a basic tradition that is the foundation of humanity. Stop stomping on my beliefs."
Happy Holidays: This country was founded on the basis of separation of Church and State. After lifetimes of historically only honoring Christmas, Easter, and other Christian holidays, people of other faiths demanded some recognition as well. After all, that's the foundation of American values we all hold so dear.
The privileged response? "Hey, our Founders were Christian. When they implied a separation of Church and State, they were referring to Christianity only. Stop stomping on my religion."
Are you seeing a trend here? Suddenly, folks who have never been the minority are starting to feel the walls closing in on them.
And look at the timing. This has been happening all within this current century. Things have been changing, and changing fast, and it feels threatening to those who are completely comfortable with the status quo. So emotionally, this has been challenging.
ALSO, ECONOMICS MATTERS
Even more importantly, this isn't just about the privilege belief set. This is real white, and non-white, Americans feeling that things are not going in their favor. The local economies are declining. They are not seeing the benefits that big government has been promising for the past eight years. "It really is time for a change! Get out of here, Obama!" We are insulated because, for most of us reading this, we live in big cities that offer great benefits, policies, and standards. Said another way, we can afford our positive big government values. When you live in the country, in the rural areas, their local economy is heavily influenced by trade agreements, manufacturing deals, and we are blind to the consequences of these things because, well, CITIES. We don't need to leave our haven! They'll come to us!
And, of course, we failed to realize that Trump was resonating with them! We didn't offer palpable solutions. (...not to say Trump did, but he spoke to them in a way that resonated with them!)
This may surprise you: Let me speak for most common working white folks. Pre- his candidacy, most country white folks would have described Donald Trump as a complete tool. An idiot. A talking head. An elitist. He deserves whatever comes to him.
But then Trump started to say things that actually made sense. He spoke to all of the above points in a relevant way.
We've got to learn from this. When they say we've got to reach across this aisle--this is what they are referring to. The Obama message of hope was one that reached directly to them, and they have not seen the jobs come back to America. So they decided it was time to try ANYTHING different than what Obama's America was offering. To them, Obama's message of hope wasn't working. (Wow. To be honest, I just had a lightbulb moment. And I'm the one writing this.) Maybe it was? Maybe it is? But it doesn't seem to coming fast enough.
Remember the question y'all posed about the Millennials growing up and bringing the change with them?
But we live NOW. What about now, Leigh? What about the next 4 years? Or, God forbid, the next 8 years?
Guess who was asking the same questions?
One other thing--protesting is wonderfully American thing to do. But the violence has got to stop. If you, or anyone you know, is part of the violence that these protests are creating, say something. Do not be a standerby during this. If we expect conservatives to stop the prejudices we are seeing, then we've got to stop the liberals from the violence we are seeing.
Truly, we are in this together. This is our country. A majority of people are not happy that Donald Trump is our President-Elect. But the pain to have change was so hurtful that they had to do something.
Conservatives don't want your rights taken away. Liberals don't want you to suffer.
We all want prosperity for all. So listen to your friends, acknowledge their pain, and let's defend each other's passions so we all can win.