This is a guest post from a friend of mine, Paul Warner. In political issues and especially economics, he is one of my most well-researched, reasonable, and articulate friends. The day after the election, he posted this on Facebook, and I wanted to share this with everyone here. It casts a vision of what’s happened, and how we might move forward. It’s a fairly hot take, and much has been written elsewhere since then. Yet, I think it’s still a refreshing and candid look at the immediate aftermath of this strange campaign season.
Well, I am incredibly disappointed with the election results. But I will accept them because I still believe in democracy and I still have hope for our country.
I do have a few initial comments, though, as I am trying to think through this as objectively as I can because I have to try to process this.
1. If you are a Trump supporter, please muster some sympathy for a lot of people who woke up very scared after the election.
- People with terrible medical conditions who only have health insurance because Obamacare eliminated the pre-existing condition restrictions
- Muslims who have experienced an increase in harassment and abuse
- Women who have sexually abusive husbands or bosses
- Blacks who watched the KKK walk across a bridge in NC last week in full celebration
- Young adults born in Mexico but brought to the US by parents at a young age who consider themselves Americans but now fear deportation
- Much of Europe that is scared the US may abandon NATO
There are a lot of very scared people. Please respect that. Additionally, please refrain from the “do not despair” rhetoric. It’s not helpful – it seems insensitive right now, regardless of your intent.
2. When all votes are counted, Hillary Clinton will almost certainly have won the popular vote.
She is already ahead, and from what I’ve read absentee and provisional ballots tend to be skewed towards Democrats. So yes, Trump will win the electoral college, and those are the rules of the game. But think about this hard. More Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump.
3. Trump is a demagogue (but there is still hope, covered below).
I am not backing down from that statement. He entered the race on the back of the pseudo-racist Birther movement, and then leaned heavily on white nationalism to win the Republican primary. That is related to Point 1 (lots of people are scared).
Just last week he was telling people at his rallies that we have the highest murder rate in 45 years. That’s not even kinda, sorta true. It is a massive, blatant, completely false statement. We have the lowest murder rate in almost 45 years. It is half of what is was in 1991. Lying of that nature fits perfectly into the definition of demagoguery and is meant to stoke fear. We need to continue to aggressively call out the lies (on both sides, of course).
4. The level of misinformation is downright depressing.
I have had dozens of debates with Trump supporters over the past few months. So many peppered their arguments with made-up quotes, fabricated statistics, distortions of information and the like. The ability to discern and research the truth has been seriously lacking across almost all of these debates.
Moreover, when confronted with evidence proving the falsehood of their information, almost every single person I have debated did one of 3 things: 1) they said I was “articulate” and we’d have to disagree, 2) they left the debate without another word, or 3) they became nasty. Almost never did they acknowledge they were spreading falsehood. This is not good if we are going to come together as a country, but it is a strategy Trump has used endlessly. Truth trumps party. Period.
5. A few friends unfriended me (or presumably hid me) during the course of the election cycle.
I can be direct, but I never share information I haven’t vetted and I don’t resort to ad hominem attacks. Something we as a nation desperately need is exposure and understanding of people with different viewpoints from our own. Hiding from ideas different from our own and staying in our echo chambers is deeply undemocratic. I’m disappointed in all of the people who did this. But…
6. I still love all of you.
Political differences are healthy, and even though this has been a most passionate campaign season, we need to search for common ground. Democracies are built on compromise. This is not a theocracy and this is not a communist paradise. It’s messy.
7. I still think Trump is very dangerous. If he does much of what he promised during the campaign, we are in for a very rough 4 years.
And likely a serious recession. And historically, demagogues have been even worse than their campaign rhetoric, so this could get awful. It’s a very real fear. But there is a sliver of hope. Trump has never shown particular commitment to conservative ideals.
In fact, even during the campaign, as he flip-flopped all over the place, at times he sounded downright liberal (raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on the rich, etc., etc.). I don’t think anyone knows exactly what he will do – even Trump. There may still be room to bargain with him and at least push a moderate agenda. We have to continue to hope.
8. Trumps rhetoric is going to have a lasting impact on our children.
Good luck to those of you who have vocally supported Trump within earshot of your kids and now want to teach them to respect women, people of different colors and religions, etc., etc.
9. Evangelical Christians – I just can’t even comment on this today other than to say your strong, vocal support of Trump has pushed people away from the faith.
I leave you with the words of Jesus.
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’”