I’ve been avoiding saying much politically since the election. I know that friends and family who feared Donald Trump as much or more than I feared Hillary Clinton are hurting and scared right now. I’ve watched in pain as I’ve read post after post, sometimes reading the hundred or so comments of their friends who similarly ache. How do I reach out and help. If the tables were turned (as they have been before), would I want those who helped defeat me reaching out and saying “There, there, everything’s going to be okay…” I’m afraid I’d hear the unspoken ending “…because my candidate won”. I see many saying things like “He was elected and he will be OUR president. It’s time to unify.” While I actually did say the same thing in 2008 when Obama won, my own Facebook timeline easily betrays that sentiment.
Remember when Obama won the election in 2008 and some kids on a Rexburg, Idaho school bus chanted “assassinate Obama”? This otherwise peaceful school bus made national headlines. I remember it well because I answered phones at the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce and many seemed to think it was all my fault. Everybody went nuts and understandably so. Now we have people marching in the street calling for the assassination of a president-elect from “the other side”. I’ve also seen or heard of many racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic acts that have been committed, supposedly by Trump voters. I think 99.99% of us can agree that all of these intolerant acts, calls for assassination, and violent riots are unacceptable in every way and do not represent the views of the overwhelming majority of our nation.
My kids were talking to me about the Revolutionary War and the Civil War the other day. They were interested in who were the good guys and who were the bad guys in each war. They identified the Union soldiers as the ones fighting for freedom in the Civil War. While I have my opinions on this, I think often it’s much like a sporting event. The good guy is the one we’re rooting for and the bad one is the other. Our rival team is not evil. They’re merely in opposition to our team. Similarly there were two sides to both of these wars. It was interesting to note that at the time of the revolutionary war, our family lived in England. We were not on the American side we now celebrate. In the revolutionary war, the Americans were fighting for freedom from what they saw as tyranny and oppression. The British, however, were fighting to suppress a rebellion that would result in an enormous loss for their empire. In the Civil War, their were multiple issues at hand. Primarily though, the Union was fighting to abolish slavery and the Confederacy was fighting for state’s rights. Which one was fighting for freedom? They both were. They just had very different perspectives. Most of the wars that have been fought in the last few centuries have been fought by two sides who had conviction for their cause, considering it to be more just than the cause of their enemy.
Last Tuesday, I voted for Donald Trump. I didn’t vote for him because I thought he was an exemplary person (I feel quite the contrary) or because I’m a racist homophobic misogynistic xenophobe, but because I agreed with his claimed policies over Hillary’s, who I also feel is far from exemplary and whose policies I feared. I believe the vast majority of Trump voters are against the intolerance we are seeing just as I believe that the vast amount of Clinton voters are very much against these riots and the violence. Those committing discriminatory acts don’t represent the half of American voters who chose Trump and those rioting in the streets don’t represent the half who voted for Hillary Clinton. These people are a very loud but a very small minority. While there are pains being felt and wounds that need to heel, I believe we can come together on many things. I don’t think most Hillary voters are ready to unite behind Trump and I don’t blame them. I think a significant portion of Republicans are having a difficult time uniting behind him as well. Maybe the first thing we can unite on is denouncing the hate on both sides. A week ago, we were unitedly fed up with this election and sick that it had come down to Trump or Hillary. Can we unite on being civil to each other, regardless of our differing views? I’ve listed a few double sided misconceptions that I can hopefully shed some light on.
- I support the definition of “marriage” as one man and one woman yet I love my friends who are homosexual and ache for what they must be going through that I can in no way ever truly understand. The majority of them are not trying to destroy the sanctity of the family but trying to have a family in their own way.
- People who are pro-choice are most often supporting a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body and I am pro-life in support of the baby’s right to live. I don’t think my liberal friends and family are murderous baby haters just as I do not hate women. We simply see the issue differently.
- Republicans are notoriously against handouts and welfare spending (at least as currently instituted). That means conservatives hate poor people and don’t believe we need to take care of them, right? Actually, in the circles I associate with, these same people are contributing their own money willingly to organizations they trust to provide welfare and relief assistance to those in need. They just don’t see the government as being the proper organization to handle that.
The point is that there are two sides to every story, regardless of how passionately you disagree with them. With few exceptions, I’d say if you feel like they would have to be a horrible person to support a given policy you probably don’t really understand where they’re coming from. Many of our political views are based off of emotion and specifically fear, and we all have different fears. We don’t need to “be sensitive” to one another. We need to be kind to one another. We should be able to share our views in a way that are not an attack on the other side. We should be able to back off when it is clear that we simply cannot see eye to eye on a policy. I really hope that we can stop the hate and stand united once again.