That sinking feeling in your gut. Acid swirls. That sick feeling of unease. Your mouth is dry. You can’t eat. Your heart pounds through your chest with anxiety as you try to sleep. I wasn’t alone feeling like this in the days surrounding Donald Trump’s Presidential election. Others cried, fumed, took to the streets.
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
I can only relate the feeling to an intense heartbreak or a period of mourning, and in truth what amplified this feeling for many of us is how caught off guard we were. During the election, people like me perused 538.com analytics after debates and significant events to test the pulse of the country, and quell our fears. The experts were wrong. The intelligentsia was wrong. I WAS WRONG.
After the fact, I am grateful for this feeling, because it has made me wonder, is this how half the country felt when Barack Obama was elected? I can have a greater empathy for how someone’s victory is another’s suffering. In this case, I do feel the country lost, and not me personally, even if I’m sure many won’t believe that. I didn’t love Hilary Clinton, but I thought it was a duty to have anyone else but this man in office. Clearly, many disagreed with that sentiment.
What has erupted is a circular firing squad of blame and negativity that I haven’t experienced in my lifetime. The tears of liberals bring joy to those who support Trump or those who just despise liberals. Bernie supporters blame the corruption of the DNC. Pretty much everyone blames Hilary Clinton for being corrupt, establishment, or just a bad candidate. Those who didn’t vote for Trump, but happen to hate Hilary blame liberals for being smug elitists that ignored the white working class. Liberals blame Trump voters for being racists and misogynists.
We’re probably all to blame somewhat, including myself. On a recent election themed Ex Man podcast with Phil Labonte from All That Remains, I talked about how I had to put politics in a box of entertainment, so that it wouldn’t affect me so much. I was wrong. This shit isn’t entertainment. It’s real. And I was lying to myself about not taking it that seriously. I did take it seriously, but I just didn’t admit it to myself.
That’s what that sick feeling in my gut was. It’s that feeling that in an instant, you do not know what’s going to happen next. Uncertainty. All you know is that world has changed. The course of history has altered. I experienced real fear, and I dismissed others who held fear about their issues be it terrorism, crime, immigration. Even if I didn’t agree with them, I got to taste what fear actually was. I can’t lie, I’ve had it pretty good lately, and I got comfortable. Maybe all of us in progressive enclaves like Seattle, and Austin, and Brooklyn who have “cool people” jobs got really comfortable. We thought the tide had turned.
I too am stuck in that bubble of the professional and artist class in urban utopias with our dope coffee shops, food trucks, and weed dispensaries. I like the bubble. It’s the one I chose, but the other bubble has different news, different facts, and different fears.
You can call Trump voters racists and idiots, and some of them are, but it doesn’t help anything. It just pushes them further into their own bubble, because they’re feelings about how awful the left is are validated.
Liberal America has to reform it’s views on political correctness. I think this is the real reason Trump won, not the economy, or even Clinton. The balance between sensitivity and free speech is apparently a tricky one, but this again is where our bubbles shield us from understanding that we are living in different worlds.
I tell myself to be as objective as possible, but I have my biases, and I have to do better to get out of my bubble.
My main job right now is to listen and try to understand people, regardless of whether I agree with them. The other thing about that sick feeling of uncertainty is it is a signal that you have to do some soul-searching. I have to soul search, and engage in a personal reckoning, because things are going to get tough.
Fight or flight kicks in and I have to decide 1 of 3 options – 1.Get off the sidelines, and become a true activist. 2. Forget politics altogether, and just live in blissful ignorance. 3. Develop a serious drinking habit.
Truth be told, I haven’t made a choice on how to be, hence the soul searching that has to be done. And to those who think it’s funny that people are crying, and are “butt-hurt”, you have to do your own soul searching. Women, people of color, Muslims feel like the entire country rejected them, and thinks they are 2nd class citizens. This is a massive deal for people. If others misery brings you joy, then I understand the content of your character, and perhaps Trump’s rhetoric has affected the country more than I would have hoped. Empathy is a 2-way street.
Also, singling out the worst offenders of the opposition and stereotyping all liberals or conservatives as that is dishonest and immoral. This tactic has only been emboldened by social media. It’s viral propaganda. There are racist Trump supporters but not all or most I believe. There are radical, destructive protesters, but most anti-Trump people don’t take to the streets. We have become bigoted towards those we disagree with. If you find yourself denigrating the “other” side consistently on social media, check yourself. Ask if this is productive or self-satisfactory mud slinging. All sides of the political spectrum are capable of hypocrisy and betraying core values.
And how do I feel about a Trump Presidency? I am worried, but I and all the other “smart” people were wrong about this. So let’s hope my fears are overblown, and all in my head. I have to be fair and judge the reality on the ground, not my paranoia. Those who are staying optimistic are counting on that either Trump was not serious about what he said he will do, or that he is incompetent to achieve his aims. I don’t have as much faith. With control of the Presidency, House, Senate, and soon Supreme Court, there won’t be much to stop his goals. I really hope he does help the working class (I am one of the them), but I remain skeptical.
If his agenda go down as planned, expect a very turbulent, divided 4 years – Affordable Care Act – Gone (20 million without health insurance including my father), Muslim Ban, Roe V. Wade – Gone, Climate Change work – Gone, Reinstatement of Torture, Nationwide Stop & Frisk, Southern Border Wall, 12 Million Undocumented rounded up by force.
I’m sure if he got your vote, you support all of these measures, but it will be devastating for those who disagree. It will be ugly. If you voted for Trump, I don’t judge you. I want to communicate with you. I hope you want to communicate with me.