We had an election, my side lost - I’ll live just fine.
I’m still dealing with the shock - here are some areas I am thinking about:
CHANGE - We are in a time of tremendous, chaotic change. In the ‘60s Dylan sang “… the times they are a changin’…” We are going through a massive, worldwide change today. Clinton represented a continuation, trying to cling to the notion that there is no real change out there, it can all be the same, just keep the correct people in power. Trump represents undeniable change. The voters have reflected the earthquakes of change.
EARTHQUAKE – I think the forces that put Trump into office, that voted for Brexit in Britain, that are building in Europe, need earthquakes in order to avoid future bigger earthquake later – we do not want a real civil war in this country, or in the European countries either.
VISION - Each side of the political chasm has its vision of what that change is all about. On the left the change is supposed to lead us to greater inclusiveness, caring, compassion, community. On the right the change is supposed to lead us to greater opportunity, freedom, individuality. Both are wonderful visions, and they seem to be diametrically opposed to each other, but they don’t have to be. I can imagine a land where each is a powerful and free individual, living in supportive community environments presenting opportunity, educations, and nurturing.
DELEGITIMIZING THE ELECTION - This country is evenly divided and I am not happy with the efforts on the left to see Trump as an illegitimate president. This has been going on, on both sides of the divide, since at least the year 2000. Many on the left never accepted that Bush was a legitimate president because of the Florida/Supreme Court debacle. Many on the right never accepted Obama as legitimate – from the “birther” to “undercover Muslim” accusations. We have elections, the people decide, we need to live with it and do our best to live our personal lives, to agree or oppose politically as we see fit, and to work within the constitutional framework of the country. If we lose, we lose. We have constitutional political remedies, but to refuse to accept the legitimacy is a path to undermining who we are.
INVISIBILITY - What is clear to me is that an entire group of people had felt invisible and they spoke loudly and clearly that they are here – forgotten whites elected Trump. At the same time, another group of people made it very clear that they felt invisible – inner city minorities – and Black Lives Matter spoke loudly and clearly that they are here too. Each feels invisible. Each feels disrespected. Each feels forgotten and abused.
I can imagine a world where the forgotten whites and the forgotten blacks (and browns and reds and yellows) can look at each other and say “I know how you feel, I feel the same way”.
PARTIES – Each party needs to dramatically change. The Democrats, amazingly, were defeated by the working class. How on earth did the party of the working class change so dramatically that it ended up sneering at the dirty fingernail folks? The Republicans probably feel pretty vindicated right now, but I think they have been stuck in the rigid ideologies of Ayn Rand libertarianism, fundamentalist Christianity, and budget cutting absolutists. I don't think Trump believes in any of that, and they are about to do major battle, it seems to me.
ELECTIONS – I think there are two big problems with our electoral process. First, the primary system is deeply flawed. I would like to see the end of caucuses, and a regional primary system that rotates the order of the regional primary elections every four years. Second, the electoral college is certainly under attack after electing the loser of the popular vote twice in the last five elections.
GERRYMANDERING – I think the most undemocratic thing in America is the gerrymandering of the voting districts by the party in power in each of the states. This radicalizes the representatives to Congress and is a deliberate and expert and totally effective way for either party in power in each state to keep themselves in power in perpetuity. It is a scandal, and it is legal. We need a new federal law or a Supreme Court overthrow of gerrymandering, and that should be a bi-partisan effort, it seems to me.
DEMONIZATION – Please, can we stop demonizing the other side? I know there are racists, sexists, homophobes, and white supremacists who voted for Trump, and that appalls me, but I believe that vast majority of Trump voters are not any of that. I know that extremists on the left voted for Obama but that doesn’t mean the Obama voters were communists or socialists, or trying to take people’s guns away, or force people to be gay, or end religion in the country. The dehumanizing of those we disagree with politically diminishes the humanity of them, and of ourselves. And forbids compassionate listening and understanding.
This is a wakeup call in many ways, but the one that stays with me the most is the loud shouts of those who felt invisible. They are here, they are as good as anyone else, they need to be heard, and they have been.
All that being said, I am feeling anxious about how this is all going to play out. Mr. Trump does not inspire much in the way of confidence in me, but I do wish him and our country well.