It’s over. After nearly two years of unadulterated bullshit from everyone, the election is over, and my candidate did not win.
Exhausted and anxious, I watched as red state after red state appeared on CNN’s map. I was so in shock that I literally couldn’t bring myself to continue until the race was called in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, and went to sleep teary-eyed, stressed, and devastated.
The next morning I, like all of you, woke up to social media post after social media post echoing the disappointment that lulled me to sleep the night before. People were astonished that someone as controversial as Donald J. Trump could be elected President, but a lot of others were just plain hurt.
This is where the lack of understanding from my Republican friends comes into play.
Upon seeing the dozens of posts decrying the prejudice that characterized his campaign, my Trump supporting peers interpreted them as personal attacks.
“Just because I voted for Trump doesn’t mean I’m racist, or hate gay people, or am Islamophobic!”
“I don’t know why people are acting like it’s the end of the world, Donald Trump is only one person!”
“It’s immature to end friendships over ‘differences in political opinion.'”
What these statements demonstrate to me is a lack of empathy and failure to see the bigger picture. I have plenty of Republican friends, and a lot of them are extraordinarily intelligent, caring, and accepting people. They’ve repeatedly spoken out against the prejudice that has colored this campaign, and stand against it every day of their lives. They themselves are not racist or prejudiced in any way- that is not at all the accusation your friends are making.
Your (rational) Facebook friends are not calling you a bigot, but are disappointed in you for thinking bigotry is acceptable. By voting for Donald Trump, you told your friends that you think the things he says and does are acceptable.
That is certainly an oversimplification- I recognize that. But for your friends affected by the events leading up to this election, your support for the President Elect feels like opposition to them. In order to help you understand, I’m going to walk you through their thought process: Your friends are upset because, by process of deduction, they’ve concluded that you do not find anything disqualifying about a lot of the objectively terrible things that have been said and done by your candidate. If you thought these behaviors were inappropriate, you would have taken a stand, like those on this extensive list of Republican leaders against Trump, and not given your vote to the man who demonstrated them. Since you did, in fact, cast your vote for Donald Trump, it shows them that you did not find anything wrong with his behavior, and that realization hurts their feelings. For them this is not just “difference of opinion,” but an endorsement of behaviors that degrade them as people.
Again, that’s not entirely fair. Emotions are not always logical. You may have been vehemently against Trump’s actions on the campaign trail, but still voted for him for other, more complex ideological reasons. Or maybe you just hated Hillary Clinton. Those reasons absolutely have merit, and are not the reasons your friends are upset with you. They have taken your support for Donald Trump as acceptance of the bigotry and hatred surrounding his campaign.
Before you get defensive and stop reading, I need you to be objective, analyze statements of fact, and hear me out on just a few points:
- As it relates your Muslim friends: Donald Trump has run a campaign generalizing Islam as a menace to world peace, and has even suggested banning adherents from entering the country. Donald Trump attacked the parents of a Muslim solider who gave his to defend your right to vote for him, and made remarks about Mrs. Khan “not being allowed to say anything” while her husband spoke at the DNC- remarks inspired by negative and many times, inaccurate assumptions about how Islam relates to its female adherents. You thought this was acceptable.
- As it relates to your LGBTQ+ friends: Donald Trump has repeatedly spoken against marriage equality, and vowed to repeal it during his campaign. Donald Trump chose a running mate who believes that a) LGBTQ+ citizens should not be allowed to defend their country (which is quite a sacrifice considering the fact that they’ve been treated like second class citizens in this country until very recently), b) LGBTQ+ people should not be protected from discrimination the same way other minorities are, and c) state funds should be redirected to programs that “redirect homosexual behavior,” which has been proven time and time again to be both ineffectual and absolutely traumatizing for those who have to endure it. You thought these things were acceptable.
- As it relates to your Latinx and First Generation Friends: Donald Trump announced his campaign with a speech wherein he called undocumented immigrants “criminals and rapists.” On his campaign he tried to exploit the grief of parents and loved ones who happened to lose their lives at the hands of undocumented immigrants to generalize them as a group of violent, lawless monsters when you and I know that is not the case most of the time. (Sidenote: The shitty way you feel about being generalized for being a Trump supporter is the same exact way your minority friends have felt since this campaign again. Empathy is a bitch, isn’t it?) I know a lot of people who were either a) brought here illegally by their parents (which is something they had no control over and thus should not be criticized for, btw) or b) born to parents who came here illegally. One of my close friends was brought here by her parents as a child when they fled their town in Mexico, which at the time was (and is to this day) being terrorized by a drug and human trafficking cartel. They wanted their kids to have a chance to escape the horrors of their cartel-run, poverty-stricken environment and gave them a chance at life in the US. They, and all of the families like them, were prejudicially characterized as dangerous criminals, and you thought that was acceptable.
- You thought this was acceptable:
- For your PoC friends: White supremacists groups have been emboldened by the Donald Trump presidential campaign. His rhetoric speaks to the fear (and sometimes hatred) of people who are different (be it racially, ethnically, religiously, etc.) felt by some people in this country. This is a fact. America is quickly diversifying, and for those who fear what they do not understand, this is cause for nervousness. They’ve seen how minorities are treated in this country, and as a result are afraid of what that status entails for them as diversification continues. Trump’s prejudice and xenophobia (both implicit and explicit) have rationalized the opinions of those who are tacitly simmering with racial resentment and inspired those people to be more vocal. David Duke (the former Imperial Wizard of the KKK), as well as the Klu Klux Klan’s national newspaper have endorsed Donald Trump because he shares “their wholesome values of race and gender” and supports the “virtues of a white, Christian republic.” When a hate group with over 100 years of history painted by terrorism and the dissemination of hateful, racist rhetoric endorses a candidate because they believe he upholds their values, that should give you pause. It clearly did not, because you voted for him.
- As it relates to women: I’m not going to touch reproductive rights because it’s a touchy issue no matter who is running. But I will say that Trump’s advocacy for punishing women who have abortions is extreme, especially since he did not communicate any punishment for the men who are often part of the decision to terminate a pregnancy. Donald Trump has bragged about “grabbing women by the pussy,” been accused of sexual assault by over ten women, is being brought to trial for sexual assault next month (which is troubling on its own, regardless of the verdict), and has perpetuated rape culture by saying that some of his accusers “weren’t attractive enough” for him to even assault (which is absolutely not the point of assaulting someone). You thought this was acceptable.
If you’ve made it to this point, I commend your maturity and willingness to see another perspective. The point I’m trying to make here is that you should really try to put yourself in the shoes of those belonging to the groups above. Just because most of the offensive things you’ve read likely did not apply to you, it doesn’t make them any less terrible in the eyes of those to which they did. Your friends are very hurt, scared, and confused as to why more people didn’t complete this exercise in empathy before voting, and are trying to process their feelings. Instead of subtweeting on Twitter, getting upset about being called a bigot, or taking all you see to heart, I recommend having a meaningful discussion with your liberal friends, and help them understand where you’re coming from in much the same way this article aims to show you where they are coming from. Although she didn’t win, Hillary Clinton was right when she said that we’re “Stronger Together”
La Nouvellle Romantique