Anxiety. I’m struggling with exactly how I feel about this election, but I know one true emotion is anxiety. The weird thing is I have this unhealthy curiosity about how a Trump Presidency would play out. The Liberal in me wants to flood Facebook with #notmypresident posts everyday, campaign for electoral voters to go against the state’s voters decision, and do all I can to make sure the dystopia he is planning never comes to light. The Patriot in me wants to stick with the constitutionally elected President and support him, guide him, and work to make him the President we need. But then I realize that the Electoral college was meant to make sure the correct person was elected. I look at what a Trump Presidency most likely means and my stomach drops. So I’ve been thinking about where to go from here.
I have been reflecting (not just alone, my wife helped a lot) on how at how we lost this election and it dawns on me that the Democratic Party doesn’t have much self awareness. If it did, it would have known that the anti-establishment vote was incredibly powerful this time. It would have seen how many people were anti-Hillary, but had voted for Obama. The DNC would have given Bernie a fair shake and likely see his name as President Elect instead of Trump. We claim to be the party of caring, the party of love, open mindedness, and peace, but I think the thing our Party is missing is true empathy. It seems like our party has selective empathy. We do a great job empathizing with families of color, the lgbtq community and women. Of that I am tremendously proud. I love that our party fights for the people who are most marginalized in our world. It is something I am forever focused on and plan to always keep as part of my life’s mission.
The area we need to focus on is creating a message that shows true empathy. I even lost this in my frustration over Trump’s messaging. But it was so easy to ignore Trump’s supporters and to dismiss them. Instead we need to validate those who were angry over how useless our government has felt over the years. We got so blinded by the things Trump was saying that we couldn’t even attempt to understand why someone would want to vote for him. Instead we just assume they must be idiots, racists, bigots, and hate filled. While there is a healthy portion of this population in his voter pool, it is a minority, I fully believe that. We never took the time to really empathize with the majority of Trumps voters. We never understood how unheard they felt. Pennsylvania is a prime example of this. I live in Philly and am proud to say that 85% of our city voted for Hillary in the hopes of defeating Trump and electing a highly qualified candidate. But our state lost. From what I can tell, the working class dems that don’t live in the city either didn’t vote, or voted for someone other than Hillary because how they felt didn’t seem to matter. Until we can start really attempting to work with, and speak to, the voters who voted for Trump and to the disenfranchised voters who didn’t vote for Hillary or Trump, then we’ll never get ourselves out of this hole.
It is so easy to attempt to stand on moral certainty about how wrong all the things Trump says are and just expect everyone to fall into line. The problem lies in never engaging in discussion because you have decided that you are right, that your opponents are wrong and that simply because you are right, you will win. If I look in my own heart, I wasn’t too thrilled to vote for Hillary, I was definitely wishing that I could have been voting for Bernie instead. There was something too predetermined and forced by her nomination. Again, I was torn because I passionately wanted to avoid a Trump Presidency and I was proud to vote for a woman for the first time. But I was wanted the first woman I had been voting for to be Michelle or Elizabeth instead. So knowing that in myself, I can truly empathize with voters who selected Trump as a big middle finger to the same kind of government they’ve felt powerless to effect over the last 40 years or so. I was also able to understand that as a woman, Hillary didn’t have the same freedom to seem as principled as Bernie did in the political world. I understand that Hillary had to always play the game, and often made her political interests in her husbands interest so as to not rock the boat for his presidency. Torn is again, the best way to describe many of my feelings.
Discussions are needed. Real listening is needed. Open minds are needed. Inspiration is needed. An overhaul of the DNC is needed. Love is needed. Because at the end of the day, really are in this together and we should be listening to folks who might have different concerns that the ones that are often media focused, traditional democratic concerns, the concerns that fundraise well, or the concerns that make the most sense to us. Because it isn’t just us on this boat. The whole country doesn’t live in a beautiful melting pot of diversity like my wonderful city. That means the problems many voters live with with aren’t mine or yours, but a set of problems we have to be willing to emapathize with, problem solve around, so we can build policy that resonates with more than just the die hard Liberals in our country.
Oh Bernie! He just posted a brilliant article about where to go from here. Grassroots indeed, but let’s also realize that we need some real understanding, listening and growth as people, and as a party.