Last night was the biggest political upset I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. Almost everyone that I’ve spent the last year condemning, distancing myself from, or outright mocking, was right. And I, and a great number of people I respect and admire, were wrong.
Donald Trump is the next President of the United States. As of this writing, he is still behind Hillary Clinton in popular votes, but he won the electoral college votes which is how we have all agreed to elect our presidents.
There’s no point bitching and moaning about the popular vote. It’s done. He won. Fairly.
Those of us who called ourselves #NeverTrump Republicans, or even those who didn’t really adopt the hashtag but made clear they wouldn’t vote for him, are of course the butt end of a lot of schadenfreude from those we opposed.
In a lot of areas, especially places like Twitter and Facebook, things got extremely nasty. The bridges that were burned and the friendships that ended are not likely to be repaired anytime soon.
But the question does remain for many of us: What now?
To answer that, I think we must first ask “what have we learned?”
A cursory view of the news and social media shows a lot of “not much.”
Van Jones and a lot of other political pundits on the left are blaming this on either racism or sexism. Rand Paul and other conservative leaders are mocking Hollywood liberals telling them to get on their planes and go. And people who had found common cause with their political adversaries during this election are already pointing the finger at each other.
Each of these reactions is understandable but is missing the greater point that I myself am struggling with as well.
To Van Jones, was racism or sexism a factor in this election? Absolutely. I’ve made no secret of both my disdain for the disgusting Alt-Right, who are already spending this morning tweeting the same kind of antisemitic & bigoted garbage that was so reviled during the election, and my belief or discovery that so many people were accepting premises rooted in soft or overt racism. Some of the most blatant examples involved the border where I’m told repeatedly by allegedly ‘non-racist’ Republicans that Latinos “can’t & won’t vote for small government.” They cite polls and statistics without ever considering the implications that come with proposing an entire race of people are genetically predisposed to be on welfare.
But there’s more to the racist problems in this election and it’s high time that our liberal friends open their eyes to this. I mention it twice in my documentary and have often said it needs to be discussed after this election: if you tell people who don’t believe they are a racist or sexist that every opposition they have with you is rooted in racism or sexism, the resentment that will burn inside them will eventually lash out. Yes, in some ways you could call it “white-lash” as Jones did several times on CNN last night.
As many times as I called out racism, overt racism, during this election, I was told an equal number of times by people who don’t seem to show any racism themselves that I was adopting a “liberal argument.”
Bill Maher touched on this the other night when he referred to criticisms of Bush & Romney as the left “crying wolf.” It’s exactly true.
None of this is to say that the racism doesn’t exist or that the sexism isn’t there. But at what point do people step back and realize that perhaps the best way to deal with those problems is not to paint everyone who disagrees with you with the same brush?
I spent a ton of this election calling out racism. And when people didn’t show that overt racism themselves but still pushed the premise that racists had put forward? I called them enablers. Hell, I called myself an enabler.
The “white-lash” is not going to go away until white people, who make up a large portion of this country, are allowed to have thoughts and disagreements without it being called “privilege.”
You don’t have to like that. You don’t have to want that. But it’s simply a fact.
You can not tell 245 million white Americans that their concerns are rarely valid and not expect a significant portion to object. You can keep beating your head against the wall, or you can do what I did this entire election and try to figure out what will actually result in the changes I seek.
And what about Rand Paul and others who have taken this morning as an opportunity to be smug to the Hollywood elite, many of whom had promised they would move out of the country if Trump won?
This is a return to the basics tribal-partisan lines that made the 2016 election such a nightmare.
I said long before the election went the way it did that tribalism is destroying America. And I still believe it is. We all keep collecting our grievances and pulling them close to our chests, snapping at anyone that tells us our grievances don’t matter. Pushing away anyone that doesn’t look or sound like us and telling them they don’t understand or they hate our tribe.
Republicans and liberals now pointing the finger at one another over Trump’s victory continue missing the huge point that I’m trying to lay out in this post.
The people are sick of our shit. Period.
Joe Blow from Anytown, USA is tired of watching wealthy people sit around a table on CNN discussing how racist he is.
He’s tired of people like me getting on social media and exerting my wit onto him like a high school bully, laughing at what a fool he is to think his concerns matter.
He’s tired of being told that every opposition to a female candidate is sexist and every opposition to a black president is racist.
I know this because I know Joe. Because I was Joe.
But ultimately my answer to the “elites” mocking my simplistic worldview was different than what the Trump voter’s was. My answer was find a way to get to common cause with one another to accomplish real objectives that had eluded us all for too long.
To stop assuming the worst possible motives of every single person I encountered that disagreed with me. To toy with the idea that perhaps those on the left who want gun control don’t simply want to come tackle me in my home and forcibly remove my weapons.
To play with the notion that while I disagree with Obamacare, perhaps my friends on the left just want people to be able to have insurance and if I could stop accusing them for one minute of wanting to install communist Russia in DC, we might be able to have a productive conversation.
At the core of my #NeverTrump stance was a desire to find a way to stop simply appealing to half the country. In stark contrast to Trump who seemed to believe he only needed half the country to do anything.
I was tired of being part of a party that pointed at agreement with a political opponent on something as “surrender.” That viewed any opponent running for president on the Democrat ticket as “literally satan.”
So, I was wrong that Trump couldn’t win by only appealing to half the country, but I still think I’m right that he can’t govern that way. The proof is the last 8 years in which for the most part Republicans governed half the country and Democrats governed the other half.
How did that work out? Did we come out with a better more honest and less hostile process that looks forward to a bright future of accomplishment? Or did we just have the worst and most despicable election in living memory?
Republicans certainly have no reason to listen to me. Not only do I no longer consider myself one, but I’ve spent the last year trying to ensure their candidate doesn’t win.
I wanted this election to be less about the pendulum swinging the other direction and more about stopping the pendulum from swinging because while it kept switching back and forth between the left and the right, the debt continued to climb, the spending continued to grow, and the American people felt more and more estranged from their neighbors.
I believed, and still believe, that Donald Trump’s character is such that he will drive this country further into problems we may have been able to escape and that the Republican Party will do nothing to stop him, thus destroying the credibility of conservatism as a philosophical force in American politics.
My prediction that Trump would lose and that we could usher in a new era of political productivity with acceptable bi-partisanship rooted in shared values and common cause, was wrong.
I pray that I am also wrong about the character of the man the American people just elevated to the presidency.