Before the November 8th US presidential election, I wrote an article about why it’s important to vote, and why I had voted for Hillary Clinton.
As you have probably heard, Donald Trump won the election.
Where do I go from here?
Living in Europe, Trump’s victory has very little impact on my day to day life. Other than hearing about it incessantly in social media and on the radio, that is.
It’s interesting to hear the media issuing mea culpa after mea culpa, and asking themselves how they were so completely blindsided by Trump’s election.
The answer is pretty easy: the media is biased. We are all biased. We live in our echo chambers and hear what we want to hear. We’ve become so polarized that we can’t stand to hear opinions that differ from ours.
Trump said sexist, racist, and horrifying things. And we liberals wanted to make those the main campaign issues. The cultural issues, the media is calling them.
But for a huge part of the country, the economy was their main issue. This article from the Harvard Business Review is an extremely informative and interesting read.
I find it hard to separate the man from his despicable behavior, ideas and remarks, but a lot of Americans didn’t.
Americans wanted change, but did we get it?
So we voted for change. (Actually, most of us voted for Hillary, but don’t get me started on the Electoral College). But will we get it?
Trump has said he will drain the swamp. I’m pretty sure Obama wanted to do that, too. So far, Trump hasn’t gotten off to a roaring start. He’s hired lobbyists (and fired some), and he’s scaled back on some of his campaign promises already.
So it remains to be seen if the Trump presidency will be the big change factor lots of Americans hoped it would be. I am not optimistic.
Unless, of course, we mean change for the worse for large portions of the American population.
How can we make it better?
With Thanksgiving coming up in just one week, many of us may be dreading the family get-together. Maybe you’re the only cousin who voted for Trump. Or you voted for Hillary and the rest of your family went for Trump.
Either way, it’s going to be awkward.
The only way to make it better is to listen to each other. And I mean, really listen.
That means, listen to what a person is saying without thinking of your comeback, put-down or counter-argument. Just listen. If you can, let that person talk your ear off, then take some time to digest what you’ve heard. Formulate questions on things you haven’t understood, and come back and ask them respectfully and non-combatively. Listen. And then listen some more.
Hopefully, if we listen enough, we may understand. And others may pay us the respect of listening to us in return.
Another way to make it better…
If you see something, say something.
I don’t mean suspicious activity in an airport or a public place. I mean, if you see lawmakers moving to enact unethical laws, then write. Write to your congressperson. Make noise.
Don’t let us wake up in a few years and wonder how on earth we got to where we are. Let’s fight Trump’s (and anyone’s, for that matter) bigoted policies.
I have faith that our system and our institutions will not allow Trump to become what others have predicted he will. But that faith counts on the attention, the engagement, and the willingness to speak up of the American people.
Let’s pay attention. Let’s stay engaged.
Let’s keep listening.