Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.”
And now it’s time for the country to pick itself up off the canvas. And I don’t mean just the people that supported Hillary Clinton, but everyone. Many of the people who supported Trump have been on the canvas for years. Well, now they got what they wanted and now they too must come together and determine their role in the quest to “make America great again,” as the man has been saying for months.
Hillary and so many of you in my newsfeed so often responded to Trump’s slogan with “America is already great.” Perhaps the question we should have been asking the 59M+ people who voted for him was “why isn’t America already great for you?” Maybe if she asked that question, really asked and listened, we would be having a different conversation today.
I don’t have the answers so I’m not even going to try. You don’t have the answers either. What I do know is that this didn’t “just happen.” I like to consider myself someone who has a long-term perspective. Perhaps it’s from working in the biotechnology industry where it takes decades to see your work reach patients or perhaps it’s from being a parent – the ultimate long-term project. If we take a second to think about this election, looking at it with the lens of a long-term view, the discontent in our country has been simmering for years and it just caught fire. The 2000 election, 9-11, two Wars and countless young men and women dying, more terrorism, the Great Recession…all of these events, when taken with the economic schism and advances in technology, have increased fear significantly and left people behind.
And yet, we continue to look at who’s to blame. Fifty percent of the country just gave the other 50 percent the middle finger. If that’s not a divided country, please educate me. But there must be someone to blame right? Jill Stein and Gary Johnson – sure, they likely took votes from the other two candidates (I’m sure mostly Hillary), but she should have wiped the floor with them. Gerrymandering, Obama (huh?) the pollsters (seriously, they suck), the media, the uneducated, white males (I’m one), whatever, whatever. We can all pick whatever broad brush stroke we want to pick, but the fact remains that 59M+ people voted for Trump so there was more than enough women, educated white males and minorities who voted for him too.
And I don’t believe they’re all racist or bad people (some of them definitely are), I think there was a whole lot of cognitive dissonance going on; they’ve been let down so much by their government, they needed someone to blame and Trump served up Hillary on a silver platter. Obama was elitist but not the establishment. Hillary was both. In my mind, given the choice of a misogynistic, racist, hateful candidate, how could the entire map not be BLUE! But we all put the ball right on the tee for Trump, and he knocked it out of the fucking ballpark.
And therein lies the problem. We’re so focused on being right, we’re not effective. A Facebook post (sorry, I love you all, and I’m including myself) isn’t action; it’s validation, maybe a conversation at best. While we crafted a clever post, or shared a meme, the world has passed us by and we never even had a clue.
So what do we do? Stealing the words from my wife, “We bounce. No looking backward. The bounce sends us up, not down. We make our own ‘here’ the best it can be, and we make it better for other people too. We teach our children the right thing, no matter what.” And yes, sometimes it starts with a simple sentence to a six-year old that “yes, Alex, of course girls can be Jedi…they can be anything they want to be.”
And we recognize that we have power; power that can affect change. We remember that this is the top of the 1st, not the bottom of the ninth. We hold the media accountable – we stop watching the bullshit, we stop clicking the bait, even if it’s entertaining. We take time to understand the intersection of journalism and capitalism and act accordingly. We do the same for big business. If they don’t have equal pay, we don’t buy the products. If they don’t provide appropriate parental leave, we don’t buy the products. If they stand on the sidelines while states take away LBGTQ rights, then we buy the products of the business that jumped into the fray. We put our money where are memes are.
And we start taking action. We fly to a so-called battleground state and sign up people to vote. We give to people we believe in. And if politics isn’t your thing, start with yourself, then your family, then your community and so on. Talk to your children about a moral compass and show them what it looks like. Volunteer with young children, help veterans…make it count. Bounce!
And start listening. Listen to the people who don’t agree with you. They aren’t stupid. They aren’t morons. They aren’t backwards. Ask them questions. Understand where they come from whenever possible. I’m not saying sit down with the KKK and ask them why they hate you, but aim to understand where the train went off the rails. Those are the rails that you see. Don’t forget that. You might be enlightened by what you find out.
I’m not particularly hopeful today, but I see kids walking out of their high school in protest, I see an electoral map of how 18-25 year olds voted, I read an enlightened Facebook post by my 17-year old niece, and I look into the eyes of my two boys who only see the world as good (unless you take their iPads away), and I may not be particularly hopeful…
But I have hope.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Dallos via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/amatuerphotographer/