I voted for Hillary Clinton. And long before Donald Trump won the U.S. Presidential Election last November, I expressed concern he would emerge as the victor.
Like many of you, my emotions ran predictably high on Election Eve. And then very early the following morning, I posted on Facebook to congratulate Mr. Trump and express my support. My thinking at the time was that ‘it’ was over and therefore WE needed to move on and provide at least initial support for our incoming leader.
And yet now, several weeks later, I am still very blue. Oh, don’t get me wrong. It’s not the prospect of Mr. Trump leading our nation that bothers me so much. It’s the continual displays of highly divisive behavior I see online, in our news outlets (silly me for reading the news), and in the physical world.
I guess I had naïvely assumed liberals were the standard-bearers of open-mindedness and acceptance. I thought more people would give this extremely unchartered world of ours a chance, perhaps even joining in with me on the classic John Lennon ditty, “All we are saying…Give Trump a chance!” (Oh come on now, lighten up).
Oops! Nope. Facebook is still a shit den of trolling, unnecessary and unprovoked spats, and incredibly immature ‘got to get the last word in’ replies onto the feed. And I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Unless we recognize how much potential power we all actually have….
We can start by acknowledging there is only one Donald Trump yet hundreds of millions of us. Therefore, how can we collectively raise ourselves to a higher standard? How can we exhibit more positive and courageous personal characteristics? How can we lead by example? How can we go high when they go low in our actions and not just our words over a sustainable period of time?
No, I’m not suggesting passiveness, a.k.a. bending over and simply taking it. My proposal is that a combined and unified positive energy will always prevail. But how? Here are four ways.
PRACTICE MORE EMPATHY – I wonder how many die-hard Clinton supporters have sat and spoken with die-hard Trump supporters in a non-emotional and non-confrontational way to simply ask and gain an understanding of why they supported Trump. My suggestion: Channel your inner Charlie Rose. Be curious. Be open minded! Accept that your opinion is only that, and nothing more. You are no more ‘right’ than they are ‘wrong.’ Look, I can be one easily triggered and emotionally sensitive mother fucker. But somehow I’ve found it within me to have peaceful conversations with middle managers, small business owners, non-caucasian females, my brother-in-law who is a former lifelong Democrat and leads a mid-sized law firm in New England, and many of my other relatives – all of whom supported Trump. I have learned a bit more about what it takes to run a small business and provide for hundreds of employees and their families through bad times, about the inner workings of the Affordable Character Act, and about how alleged deplorables are incredibly kind and loving people who stand behind their families and support their local communities. Empathy also means acknowledging that while you may be blue, many people are wildly elated right about now.
ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY AND LEARN FROM DEFEAT – Here is some free advice: If you run for President and lose after spending nearly 10 times more than your opponent, please don’t blame the Russians, the FBI, the NRA, your campaign manager, Lester Holt, Ted Nugent, et cetera. Take full responsibility and look within. Where did YOU fall down? What could YOU have done better? And what can you do better the next time out, if there is a next time out. I mean….whether you love or loathe the Electoral College, that is our current system, and under it Clinton lost badly.
TAKE POSITIVE ACTION – Sure, you can join a protest – I get it. But what else can you do that creates impact and change? Sorry to give you the tough love, but repetitively posting HuffPost articles critical of Trump to your like-minded Facebook friends who habitate your echo chamber accomplishes nothing, although it has pretty much gotten me off of Facebook – and I genuinely thank you for that. And I find few things more tragic than seemingly intelligent people who pine their entire adult lives away expressing melancholy for the entire four year period during which the person they didn’t support is leading the country – not just once, but continually over many decades. What a waste.
So, what can you do? Let’s say you believe Trump winning the election after decisively losing the popular vote is despicable. Well, can you use your social media prowess to organize among throngs of people several massive online email blasts and/or phone campaigns focused on your congressional representatives that propose eliminating the U.S. Electoral College system? Can you reach out to friends in other states to do the same thing targeted toward their representatives? What else can you do to support causes you believe in that is actionable, impactful, and intended toward a specific and plausible outcome?
THINK UNITY ALWAYS – Yes, of course you can be angry and scared. But can you STILL rise above these emotions and reach out? Can you STILL try and be the bigger person and not refer to those who disagree with you as ‘stupid?’ Most importantly, can you try to identify and embrace what is common in all of us – our hopes and aspirations as well as our anxieties? In short, can you make this phrase, “Let’s find common ground – ANY common ground – and build upon it,” your mantra?
Here is some free advice: If after many decades of working hard and excelling as an actress, you attend a globally televised award show for your fellow actors and actresses in order to accept a lifetime achievement award, please allocate at least a small portion of your remarks toward expressing a conciliatory sense of unity, hope and optimism for the future that is directed to ALL the people who have paid to see your movies, and not just those who share your political views and cultural elitism. To quote comedian Trevor Noah responding to the unnecessary football diss alone, “You don’t have to make your point by shitting on someone else’s thing…”
In closing, we can do a hell of a lot better than simply ‘getting through’ this next four years. I KNOW we can thrive through it with more understanding, learning, constructive action, and a more embracing and unified approach.
It’s not up to him. It’s up to us. Can we step up together?
PHOTO: The legendary and timeless “Bobby Blue Bland.”