Hey guys. If you know me, you know I'm just as disappointed as you today. I waited five hours to vote for Hillary on Sunday. I feel despondent, shocked, and honestly, a little afraid. I know many of you do as well. But there is a glaring problem in our country that this election has revealed -- and it's not with our conservative friends (although I wrote a letter to them, too). It's with us.
It says something -- something big -- that virtually every major publication and media source backed Hillary Clinton to no avail. Many celebrities, late night hosts, news anchors, writers -- the voices of our media -- publicly and loudly supported her -- to no avail.
This is a warning: we do not need to speak more loudly, as is so tempting when we are upset. We need to speak differently.
While we thought a win was all but guaranteed, quite nearly half the country spoke out with their vote otherwise. This does not mean they are out of touch. It means that we are.
Most, if not all, of those who voted for the President Elect do not trust the media. They don't read the things you're reading, they do not watch or enjoy John Oliver, they don't believe the news is truly accurate. And honestly -- can you blame them? Most media outlets do have a very liberal slant. If your views were not just contested, but openly mocked, by the media, would you be inspired to listen or engage? Probably not. And yet that's what so often happens. We assume that because all the articles we're reading are leftist, most people must be leftist as well. We assumed that anyone who isn't leftist must be a weird uneducated minority, which clearly isn't true. Because we assumed, we became complacent, and we stopped listening to the half of the country that disagreed with us.
Instead of listening, we posted funny memes. I mean, I know I did.
And now, instead of listening, we're posting rage, rants, and extreme rhetoric. I do not include posts expressing fear in this -- many people are afraid and definitely have a right to be. Nor am I suggesting that we should just roll over and be 'nice.'
But the reality is that half the country disagrees with you. What's more, your meme, your joke, your rage, your tweet -- it isn't reaching them. The only way to reach them is with true diplomacy. This means listening. It does not mean conceding. As so many wonderful folks have pointed out today -- this is not the end. This is the beginning, and we have a lot of work to do. But that work will only go so far if we consistently refuse to be diplomatic with those who disagree with us.
No, not every Trump supporter is a misogynist or racist. Some are, but very, very few people who voted for Trump did so because they are pro-hate. They're not. And if you cannot at least give individuals the benefit of the doubt, you will never be able to truly connect, converse, and convince them on some very important issues.
Whether or not you like it, this group has voting power. You will not be able to influence that power by yelling louder. You might, however, be able to influence it through building honest relationships, maintaining respect, and working on your discourse skills.
Perhaps this seems overly optimistic of me. I believe it's more of a realist view. It would be very easy, and comforting, to post a raging rant about this on Facebook. My leftist friends might like and comment, we could commiserate together, and it might make us feel a little better. But, pragmatically, I know that wouldn't really do anything besides alienate further the very people we need to connect to. The truth is, there is no other way to affect peaceful change than to realize our media, social and otherwise, has been misused and mishandled and as a result we are completely disconnected from half of our country's population.
I'm not saying this is easy. Sometimes issues are so personal, so important, that it is extraordinarily difficult to discuss them with any level of calm and I'm not sure how I'm going to do it. We want to be loud and angry and snarky. But that doesn't work.
However, if we can muster fortitude, calm, patience, and true grace -- if we can really make an effort to actually connect with the other half -- there still might be hope for change.
As President Obama said today, this is an intramural scrimmage game. We are on the same team.
United We Stand.