By Jonathan Thompson
About a month ago now, let’s just say I was in no place to do much of anything. Still stunned by the results of the election, I was rendered a living vegetable, capable of going through the motions, not capable of doing much other than that. Slowly but surely, I have been able to get myself out of my “Trump slump” of sorts, but it has been a struggle I will never forget. I have now come to terms with the very real fact that he will be our next President. While I initially did not accept it and still do not really want to accept this reality we face, it is time to think of where we go from here. We cannot afford to be afraid or quiet anymore. Throughout the last month or so, I have heard two primary arguments from people who were in opposition of Trump: one being that we simply must move past this and that it will not be the end of the world, the other being that those who could be affected and feel crushed by the result still need time to grieve. I do not oppose either side and see very valid points toward both, however, I think that in order to move on from this and think about our future as a nation, we need to both move on and think critically about how to deal with this because it is now our reality–there is no way around it.
What I have been grappling with now is how to humanize the Trump supporter. As a Clinton supporter who knows people who voted for Trump, I was thoroughly confused and frustrated when I heard of such good people casting a vote for someone who spewed such hate. What I am realizing, as I continue to read and educate myself about exactly what happened on that fateful Tuesday night, is that not all Trump supporters agreed with everything he said–many were simply fed up with a system they felt was not properly serving them and felt that a political outsider might be the only step toward real change. I personally feel that when you vote for a candidate, you are voting for their entire platform and that there is a real possibility that he/she will implement every policy that he/she campaigned for–however, I think that during this election it is important to realize that not all Trump supporters are hateful people. I refuse to believe that roughly half the country voted for hate; while it is true on paper, the idea is just too grim to bear. The reality, I believe, is that many were willing to look past their moral compass in the seeking of financial gain or actual change, good or bad, in Washington, which is unsettling and discouraging for many, myself included, but for me at least a way to attempt to qualify the outcome of this election (as hard as that might be to say). Sure, it is easy to demonize the Trump supporter and call he/she bigoted and backwards and use all of that rhetoric that is arguably true, however, that is exactly what won Trump the presidency–white middle-class Republicans being told they are racists and bigots. They saw Trump as a way out of four more years of political correctness from a woman who is in many voters’ minds not to be trusted in high office. Given our clear political divide in this country, we need to now more than ever dig deep and try to push forward in a way that is constructive and open to differing opinions.
I am a firm believer that fighting hate with negativity is no way to effect change of any sort. While we all have the right to protest and think the way we want to, it is important that we are able to continue to be kind to others–to associate someone solely with who they vote for is to disregard an entire person’s story, background, and beliefs. In the face of such difficult times, instead of being angry with the other side, we need to try, as hard as it might be, to empathize and ultimately move forward. I am still in mourning, just like so many are, but I am ready to fight for those of us who will be affected over the next four years, and I hope you are too.