Dealing with Donald Trump

The 24% of America that voted Donald Trump for president have probably been silently celebrating to themselves this week, because the rest of the country that didn’t vote for him are livid. And to be honest, they should be celebrating. Despite all odds, despite the collective power of “the machine,” and despite a media empire that all rallied around the idea that Donald Trump was a temporal blip that would be cast out when election came, Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s change candidate, the political outside, has been elected to the office of the president.

What’s even more stunning, to me at least, is that despite the media claiming that the democrats were going to capture both houses because of the “Trump effect,” Republicans actually maintained both houses. This means Donald Trump and the Republican party now control the Executive branch, the Legislative Branch, and presumably the Judicial branch since Obama’s pick to replace Scalia will probably be thwarted until Trump gets in office.

The response to this political upset has been understandably heated. Marches and demonstrations started immediately in nearly every major city of the United States, and quickly turned to riots. Trump votes and Clinton voters are clashing in the streets, each attempting to affirm their right to their decision, as if that had changed. Trump voters are being publicly shamed and even beaten.

Understandably, people of all creeds, races, and sexual orientations are freaked out right now. Trump did everything in his power to marginalize nearly every group possible, except his base. Latinos are worried about being deported. Muslims are worried about being jailed, deported, or just shot in the streets. Millions are worried about their Affordable Care Act sponsored medical care. Women and LGBT communities are worried about losing decades of civil rights protections. But riots, violence, and public shaming are not going to solve anything. Believing that it’s possible to overturn a candidate who was democratically elected because you create a violent riot and yell at Trump supporters is simply insane. He won fair and square, and we’re just going to have to deal with it.

Believe me, this is not the end of democracy as we know it. We’ve had insane presidents before and we lived through it. But for me to not go insane, I’m choosing to take an optimist approach. To find ways to make lemonade out of this strangely colored lemon. Our voices should not be stifled, as they are more important than ever before, but they cannot be used to target a thing that cannot change. I have a few suggestions for how we can survive this presidency.

Relax

Yes, we just elected Trump as the POTUS. But it’s not like the country’s values just changed overnight. We’re still exactly the same America we were four years ago. The vast majority of the population still favors gay marriage, legal abortion, stricter gun and ammo laws, some kind of universal health care, global warming, and yes 59% of people believe immigration helps the country more than it hurts.

And get this, several states just voted in stricter gun and ammo laws. Marijuana was legalized several of the 25 states that proposed the initiative this year, including Arkansas, North Dakota, and Florida, which are Trump states.

And for those posting on social media about “millions of immigrants about to be deported and families torn apart,” know that this has been happening for years. We saw the greatest number of illegal deportations during the Obama presidency than ever before. Even if Hilary was elected, we’d still be deporting illegal immigrants. Amnesty is too politically divisive to ever be passed in congress. What is Trump going to do that’s any different from what we’re already doing? Make illegal immigration more illegal?

Regardless, despite the fact that we elected Trump, we’re not going to see the kind of wholesale removal of civil rights that some believe is going to happen. America is still just as liberal as it ever was, and if you start attacking people’s rights in official ballot measures, you bet your ass you’re going to get voter turnout. The most likely reason for this election result is that people are fed up with political dynasty.

Or at least as far as we know. The fact is, we don’t know much about why people voted for Trump, which is why we should:

Listen to Trump Supporters

I know you’re angry right now, and that’s okay. But the reason you didn’t see this coming, the reason the media didn’t see this coming, the reason the democratic party didn’t even see this coming, is because we all live in bubbles that echo our own beliefs and concerns back to us.

The internet has provided us with an incredible wealth of information, the ability to access nearly anything at our fingertips, or even by conducting a simple search from the phone in our pockets. We have an unlimited source of information in front of us at all times. But humans cannot take in unlimited information. Humans only evolved to take in information from a small area and to have relationships with only about a dozen people at a time.

The Social Media experiment attempts to connect us to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people at a time, and what we’ve learned is that doing this means we pride a select few people as individuals we trust and everyone else gets marginalized within a category of stereotypes. Many cannot fathom why someone would have voted for Trump, because they exist outside of our bubble and have other motivations that we are not aware of or have not listened to. And as a result, we are vilifying these people, marginalizing them. Even the media is vilifying these people wholesale, and that’s the wrong way to deal with this.

Just as we’re inside our own bubble, so are Trump supporters. Part of the reason they may have voted was because of that bubble. But vilifying them will only drive them further into that bubble. This is the behavior that caused this election in the first place.

We need to stop thinking of Trump supporters as a category of people that are “like-Trump.” Sure, there may be racists, misogynists, and straight up assholes that voted for Trump. But there are also A LOT of people who are legitimately good people, but desire the change he represents so bad that they are okay with violating their own moral compass to vote this man in. That tells me that there is something fundamentally wrong with the status quo, an entire population of people who is so angry that they’d rather toss a nuclear warhead into the system than allow four more years of it to occur.

The fact that we cannot comprehend such powerful motivations is a problem. The fact that Trump supporters are this angry is a problem. The fact that Allen Lichtman predicted this election, as he’s predicted every other election over the last 30 years, and we said “Nah,” is a problem. For whatever reason, we have failed these people, and we need to find out why.

Jason Wong does a great job of explaining one group of these people within his Cracked article and within their podcast: the rural white uneducated working class. Everyone should listen to the podcasts and read the article, because it’s enlightening as hell. These people aren’t stupid, but marginalized.

But if that were it, then Trump still wouldn’t have won. There is also a significant percentage of white college-educated adults that also voted for Trump. This is a segment of the population is currently getting its collective shit kicked. But what we need to understand is why.

We must understand why for three reasons:

  1. It’s cathartic to do so. Even attempting to understand will cool your jets a few notches.
  2. Because in the face of confrontation, we should be compassionate. Trump supporters are angry about something and it is the civic duty of the people of this nation to find out what it is and deal with it.
  3. Because it’s the way to be the better person.

So, next time you run into a brave individual that actually divulges to you that they voted for Trump, ask them why. Don’t yell out “WHAT THE FUCK, WHY?!” Instead ask them with legitimate curiosity, like “Oh, that’s interesting. What made you vote for him?” and then sit down and LISTEN. Don’t talk, don’t argue, listen. I guarantee you will learn something.  And once again, don’t say “Oh that’s interesting. What made you vote for that douchebag?”

If they manage to say something that pisses you off, fine, that’s bound to happen. But instead of immediately their face in, maybe you should instead:

Channel Your Frustration into the Issues

While Donald Trump may be despicable as a person, the reason we’re truly frightened of him is because of his deplorable stance on various issues. But just because the POTUS believes something, doesn’t mean that’s the way it’s going to be. I do believe that the Republican party isn’t completely insane and they will moderate Trump’s crazy to an extent. The Democratic party is also still there and they do have some tools to mitigate the crazy and enforce compromise.

But that said, they won’t know your opinion if you don’t tell them. This isn’t a true democracy, more like a representative democracy. We vote in people to represent our wishes. But they’re just people with their own biases and opinions. The job of a politician is to represent his or her consistency. And one of the least used tools in our collective arsenal is the ear of the politician.

I suggest that anyone truly worried about Trump come up with a list of every issue that they are personally concerned about. And mostly, I’m talking about issues that will affect your daily life. We only have so much mental energy and worrying about things that don’t affect you is only going to make you angry and bitter, or in other words, what we believe to be a Trump supporter. Once you have the list, find some way to keep up to date on these issues. Find a blog that concentrates on that issue and follow it. Join a mailing list for a special interest. Or if you’re so inclined, create a web crawler to find information for you (and then post a blog about it for everyone else’s benefit too.)

If a piece of legislation pops up that threatens your daily life, get involved. I don’t just mean Tweet bomb a bunch of people or post hundreds of pieces of political garbage on your Facebook feed every day. I mean write to your representative. Organize or join a rally. Create a petition. These were provided in order of complexity for a reason, because even writing a congressman can actually have a huge impact. Do you know how many write letters to a congressman? Nobody. That’s bound to ensure your voice is heard.

Oh, and by the way, the reason Trump got elected is because his supporters did this. He barely spent anything on advertising compared to Hilary. His election was partially fueled by media ignorance and otherwise fueled by grassroots movements. You can do this too. You got Obama elected twice. You can do this too. All you need to do is make sure you and other people:

Vote

Trump supporters aren’t the biggest problem. Non-voters are. Only a ¼ of the population of the United States voted for Trump. Another ¼ of the population voted for Hilary. A tiny single digit percent voted for other candidates.

So…that means literally ½ the country didn’t vote in this election, and that’s insane. A non-vote is sort of a vote, saying “I hate both,” but I’m pretty sure most of those “non-votes” were also “simply didn’t show up at the voting booth.”

That is unacceptable. The other ballot measures and local elections WILL ABSOLUTELY AFFECT YOUR DAILY LIFE. A presidential election probably won’t affect you one bit. So, refusing to vote for anything because you hate the presidential candidates is simply ridiculous. In fact, I have sympathy for Trump voters. I have absolutely no sympathy or patience for those WHO DIDN’T FUCKING VOTE.

If you really want to target someone with your anger and publicly shame them, shame those who didn’t vote at all. I don’t mean someone who showed up and left that spot blank. Even though it’s annoying, at least they voted. People who voted for Johnson? I don’t have a problem with them. They showed up. But people who didn’t vote for a damn thing should be ashamed of themselves and should be pressured socially to vote next time. Because they are the problem, not these poor people who actually want the system to change, but those who couldn’t be fucked to participate in their own goddamned government.

If it were up to me, I’d pass a mandatory voting law. The government knows who votes and who doesn’t, so it’s absolutely enforceable. Maybe increase their taxes next year if they didn’t vote. Maybe string them up in the town square with signs saying “Couldn’t be fucked” and “Not a real American.” Okay, that one’s a bit extreme.

Seriously folks, go out and vote. Every time an election happens, vote. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain. That’s your only freaking civic duty.