So, I’ve had time to mourn, reflect, digest and process this crazy election. I’ve read some really interesting articles from all sides so I can better understand.
But the best thing I did was have a civil, open, honest conversation with a woman I consider a friend who voted for Trump. It wasn’t a long conversation, but we were able to share our views in a productive way.
Here’s what I learned.
We see things through our own skewed lenses.
I had such a difficult time understanding how this intelligent, educated and caring woman could vote for a man who spewed hate speech against Muslims, Hispanics, Blacks, women, etc.
She began by telling me that she thinks Hillary is intelligent, capable of doing the job of president, but that she sees her as untrustworthy and does think she is corrupt and dishonest. I know this woman to be a bit of a feminist, so I have no doubt that she would love to see a woman in the White House. And she told me she didn’t like a lot of what Trump said, didn’t agree with it, but she simply felt that Hillary couldn’t be trusted. So, in her mind, Trump was the lesser of 2 evils.
When I said that I see a Trump America condoning this hatred he spews I think she was puzzled. I told her that every time he spoke like this and allowed his supporters to practically assault these people at his rallies, he supported this hate speech. I brought up the story of the boy in a wheelchair with a Hillary sign whose wheelchair was kicked by Trump supporters at a Trump rally. Trump never said, “stop that” to those at this event. Not then, and not all the countless times over the past year. In my view he is condoning this behavior and validating these beliefs. By not condemning it, he condones it.
She didn’t see things this way. But I could tell this was the first time someone had shared this view with her. I could see the the wheels spinning in her head. I told her that many of us who voted for Clinton see things this way. And that’s why we’re scared. That’s why we’re upset. That’s why we’re worried. I went on to describe something I remember from the 2008 election.
It was the town hall debate between John McCain and Barack Obama. I remember an older woman (who I would describe as less educated – sorry if this sounds elitist, but I call them as I see them) saying that she couldn’t trust Obama because he was an “Arab, a Muslim and not a US citizen.” McCain, who I don’t agree with on a lot of things but have the utmost respect for, replied to this woman, “Ma’am. That’s not true. He is a citizen and he loves this country as much as I do. We just have differences of opinions.”
“When did Trump say anything even remotely like this?” I asked my friend. If he had solely talked about policy and not spewed all this hate and I felt that he was respectful of all people who live here, then my stomach wouldn’t be in knots about what lies ahead for my country. I could accept the election results. I certainly could have taken a Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or Chris Christie presidency more than this one.
I noticed that she took this all in.
She commented that she just couldn’t trust Hillary. That she thought Hillary was indeed a criminal. I said that Bill and Hillary have been investigated and investigated and NEVER found guilty of breaking any law. She doubted this. I admitted that they had not been smart about some things. And I do believe they haven’t always been on the up and up about it all. I told her I didn’t vote for Hillary in the primary and I didn’t vote for her in the 2008 Colorado primary because of the “baggage” I felt she carried. But in all the investigations it’s never been proven that a law was broken. You’d think if they had been guilty of something someone would have discovered this. She still doubted. So what was she hearing that I wasn’t? I wondered.
I brought up the whole allowing refugees from places like Syria or Afghanistan coming into the country. That I was concerned how Trump would deal with this. She observed that Hillary wanted to take in more refugees. And I said yes, but you do realize they go through a major vetting process. I went on to tell of a story I heard on NPR (a phrase I use a lot) about a couple who came to the US a few years back from Syria. They each went through 6 interviews, never together, before they were granted refugee status. I don’t recall the length of time it took, but it was well over 6 months and maybe closer to a year or more. My friend commented that because Hillary would allow in so many more they wouldn’t be able to do these lengthy vetting interviews. Huh? I told her I didn’t believe that to be true and that I had never heard this. The safety of America always comes first. Again, I wondered where she was getting this information. What she was hearing…from whom or what news source?
And then I processed all of this.
I came to the realization that we hear what we want to hear because of the lens upon which we see the world. We hang out with those who think like us. We get our news from sources that tell us what we want to hear.
And this is all wrong!
Okay, no it’s not wrong to hang out with like-minded people. That’s natural. And it is natural to view the world based on how you were raised, your morals and values — through that lens.
But here me out.
I know folks on the right who always need to have FOXNews on. I have friends, like me, who are on the left. One friend talks about MSNBC a lot. I give her a hard time, saying, “I don’t want the news telling me what I want to hear. I want to hear the TRUTH!” Give me facts. Double and triple-checked facts. Even if it’s something I don’t want to hear, I still want to hear it.
As someone who was a journalism major at the start of my college career (and seems to be finding her way back to writing), I had it drilled into my head that you had better be damn sure your facts were correct.
So what the hell happened?
Good question. When I was a high school news gal, we only had 3 major networks, local radio stations, the city newspapers and a couple of national news magazines.
Now we have so many fucking media outlets that it makes your head spin. And so many of them slant one way or the other.
This is not good people.
And Facebook? Do not get your news from Facebook. You do realize they put things that you want to hear in your newsfeed — the whole algorithm thing. And there’s a lot of fake news. As in NOT REAL people!! Click through a story and don’t just read a headline on Facebook and like it. Be sure it’s actually coming from a reputable source.
Here’s my solution and my challenge to you.
Stop getting your news from Facebook — unless you are truly clicking through to these stories and they are coming from trustworthy sources.
Get your news from several sources and go to print sources more than tv sources. If you do go to tv sources, go to both MSNBC and Fox. But to me, print is better even though it’s more time consuming.
And go to international news outlets. I love the BBC. I think it’s important to see the US through the eyes of others around the world. Sometimes we are too close to our own issues and opinions and we need to see the perspective of an outsider.
Lastly, find someone who didn’t vote like you did. Who views the world through a different lens than you do. Choose someone that you feel you can sit down with and have an open, honest, civil discussion with. And that you won’t lose as a friend or family member. And above all listen to them. Really hear them.
I know that my friend voted for Trump not only because she sees Hillary as untrustworthy, but also that she agrees with Trump’s policies (which I wish we would have heard more of during the campaign). She’s a Republican. A self-described “moderate conservative.” Her values, her “lens” aligns more with Trump than Hillary. And I get that now. I get that she saw all this other rhetoric as nonsense and, while not unimportant, is not as unpleasant as the fact that she sees Hillary as a liar and even a criminal.
One of the last things she said to me was that we should at least give Trump a chance. She believes that he deserves that. And that he’ll choose intelligent folks to serve with him. “I can’t imagine that someone like him doesn’t want to be successful at this.”
I know that we have no choice now but to accept the election results, heal and yes, give him the chance — to see what he’ll do.
I truly believe that we need to keep an eye on things. And we need to hold him accountable to those American values we hold so dear. I for one need to hear him tell the haters to stop. To tell those folks that is not who we are as Americans.
In the meantime, it’s up to each and every one of us to reach out to someone we know who doesn’t agree with us. Talk to them. Let them hear you. Listen to them. Hear them. My guess is you’ll find more in common than you think. After all, we’re all Americans and we’re all human beings.
But I have to admit…
I’m still puzzled by the vote. I still struggle with how someone, an intelligent person, can vote for Trump. I would rather you not vote for anyone or choose a third party candidate. If you didn’t like those things he said, how could you, in good conscious, vote for him?
And I know there are those who don’t understand how an intelligent person could vote for Hillary. This is a big part of our problem as a country.
There’s still that part of me that is screaming inside saying, “YOU CHOSE HATE!” And I can’t understand how anyone with a reasonable amount of intelligence doesn’t see that he represents hate. That he represents non-inclusiveness. That he represents bigotry and prejudice. I still struggle with how you can overlook this.
Explain this to me. Help me see this. Because I know I’m not the only one who holds this perspective.
And maybe, just maybe, part of it is that the lens through which you saw him was different than mine. Maybe you didn’t hear what I did. Maybe you understood it differently. It’s possible. I know it is.
Perhaps I need to keep having conversations to help me wrap my head around all this. To help me figure it out. And maybe I need to keep having conversations to help you, who voted for Trump, understand where those of us who voted for Hillary are coming from.
To be honest, maybe that’s the best thing we can do to heal our divided country — to talk to each other…openly, honestly and respectfully.