Since the election of President Trump, people everywhere are in a state of shock. Very few expected Trump to win the election and many have voiced their fears and opinions on his policies. The previous weekend we rallied together for a protest larger and honestly more successful, than the inauguration of one of the most controversial presidents in history. Yet, despite the success of The Women’s march, I still feel as though no one has grasped the severity of the situation our country is now in. This election was never about Trump or Hillary, it was never about the scandals that followed the both of them everywhere. This election was about anger and hate; the anger and hate we, the left, have for dissenting opinions.
I live on a college campus. At the start of the 2016 school year, a Trump campaign flag was hanging out of a dorm window. Two days after the flag had been hung it was taken down. In several of my classes, computers that had Trump/Pense stickers on them returned with the offending sticker colored out or removed. Yet, Hillary flags, I”m with her” stickers and T-shirts with giant H’s, remained prevalent. Personally, I was happy about the shift on campus, it reinforced the confidence I had in Secretary Clintons ability to win the election. But when she lost the electoral vote and subsequently the presidency; I was furious. How could this happen? First, I blamed sexism, then I blamed the electoral college, and finally I realized I had to blame us. The reason all those Trump stickers, hats, and flags disappeared was not because those people had changed their minds but because they were tired of being harassed by people like me.
Over the past few months, I have come to a realization. Liberals are cruel to any who do not share our views. We chant and shout that we are the majority but Hillary’s 48% vs. Trumps 46% is not that big of a gap, if anything, it is practically dead even. Imagine someone offers you a cookie, they break it in half and offer you a part. Most likely the cookie is not perfectly split in half and if you were told that you only had 46% of the cookie and they had 48% you probably would not care, you would probably say, “isn’t that that same as half?” and you would be correct. For all intents and purposes, half of the country voted for Trump. Yes, half. Now the question is how does half of the country go unaccounted for in the polls? The answer is the same as the reason college students hide their Trump paraphyllia, no one likes being called a bigot.
We have entered into an age where name calling is the same as a political debate. When someone says they are a Trump supporter, they are not asked why they are mocked. When the media, celebrities, and the opposing candidate says that they do not care about Trump supporters, or what they have to say the message we are sending is not one of inquiry or a desire to understand, but one of hatred and shame. The question we should be asking ourselves is not “how could a man like Trump win” but “how could good, decent people, vote for him?”. It is simple really, he seemed like their only option. Trump accepted those we mocked and shamed, and so they flocked to him in silent droves. According to Pew Research Center, 70% of all votes were white and 58% of those voters voted for Trump, in addition, 89% of Republicans voted for Trump. These groups are often the ones who are on the receiving end of critiques to their vocabulary and views. However, they way in which these critiques are presented often target the person and not the view. We assume that if someone uses sexist language they are a bad person, instead of asking why they would use such language and trying to help them see why we find it disrespectful. For a long time, I hated Trump supporters, truly hated them. But there are those in my family who supported Trump, classmates, and teachers who supported him, and they are not bad people.
When I asked my family and friends who voted for Trump, the most common reply I heard was “he spoke to the common folk” and I believe them. Trump reached out to a voter base that has long been ignored by the liberal party. This election, in particular, the liberal party not only ignored them but alienated and berated them. Is it truly so surprising that when Trump told them that they were wanted, they turned to him? This election proved two things, we need to try and understand “the common folk” again and make them feel welcome. We can no longer afford to lash out at those who hold offensive opinions and instead we need to try and help them reshape their views. People should not feel ashamed or scared to support their candidate, instead dissenting views should be discussed and debated. Unfortunately, a conversation is what will help us heal, not monologs on the injustice done to others. 2017 will be a rough year for many of us, but instead of using this year to stock the fires of our rage, we should take this time to reconnect with those we have alienated. In the words of Michelle Obama, “when they go low we go high” and right now, these words are more applicable than ever.