I am a white-looking, heterosexual, male, working professional. In spite of any humble beginnings I may have had, I’m the one getting all those privileges you hear some folks talking about. I get this whether I want them or not. I don’t even know it’s happening.
I worry for those who don’t fit into those categories. Gay, hijab wearing, dark-skinned, homeless souls. I’m concerned about the social policies (driven perhaps by Pence and the old GOP) and not so much the fiscal policies of the incoming administration. Hell, there are often things to admire about being fiscally conservative.
The important thing is I’m not here to impose my belief system on other humans. Humans have bodily autonomy. I have the right to my beliefs, but I don’t get to impose them on you. The doctor-patient relationship is beyond politics. No rhetoric should attack humans for their genetic legacy or their personal lifestyle choices. Further, politics must be driven by science and reason. There is no substitute.
I caucused for Sanders and in the end voted for Clinton. The trouble with Trump (for me–in case you thought I was speaking for anyone else) has always been that we simply have no idea what he is actually going to do. On one side there are certainly folks who are utterly convinced he is going to do terrible and harmful things to and for America; on the other side are folks who are equally convinced by his promise to restore America’s awesome (wherever it was supposed to have gone).
But since every word he spoke along the campaign trail was a falsehood of some manufacture–and if certain reports are to be believed this was normal for him throughout his life–it is impossible to say with any degree of certainty what his true intentions are. You can guess this will generate some amount of fear and anxiety.
But let’s talk about this election and the atmosphere surrounding it.
Surely at least some Trump supporters are realizing they are in the same awkward position that moderate Muslims have been: why are you not doing something about your hateful bigoted peers?
Those (perhaps few) members of the Trump camp who can honestly embrace the title of deplorable, the KKK for example, are not the voice of the majority. Yet they are also not decried by the majority, nor are their statements condemned by the official rhetoric of the campaign. For the record the Trump campaign did reject the endorsement by the Klan’s newspaper, however quietly, but there was a consistent if tacit acceptance of a host of hateful rhetoric by the crowds and followers.
But what about the vitriolic Clinton supporters? Are they putting the moderate Clinton supporters in a similar position?
Keep in mind some who have been against Trump are now fearing for their lives (from direct threats by the extreme Trump supporters); some are fearing for their futures as Americans (even though born here). There is a lot of fear over there. And that fear is a direct result of the vitriolic rhetoric from the extremists among the Trump supporters. We have to have some sympathy for that.
If you are not personally accepting at least a little responsibility for the state of our union today, you are mistaken. It doesn’t matter if you are Democrat or Republican or Independent or conservative or liberal or “I never vote”. We are all in this together for this is what we have built together over time.
Remember, half the country chose this. Now they need our help. Be kind and help others understand what it means to be equal. Spread intelligence. Be well.
When you disagree with some idea you see, you must take the effort to understand what the one espousing that idea actually means. Take a closer look; take a closer listen.
Know I feel your pain. Be kind. They need our help more than our derision. We must teach them about what it means to be equal. Listen and then teach. But listen well.
I recently described our public discourse as polarized rhetoric vomit wars. Are we really that person our interlocutor describes us to be?
I’d go so far as to say that no person is really a liberal or a conservative, but rather that these have become handles to apply to opponents in discourse, typically used as derogatory terms therein. They are even taken to further extremes as libtard and conservatard. How is that helpful? How does that move any dialog forward?
Most folks are somewhere on a spectrum between extreme poles on many diverse subjects. I’m for gun rights and for social welfare programs. I’m for free speech (including kneeling for the anthem) and I want to ensure the troops that guarantee that freedom are well cared after. Humans are complicated. Each one is a little bit different from the last.
It is easy to fall into intellectual pitfalls like dehumanizing one’s opponent in a debate and then disregarding all input they might attempt to offer. Public discourse in America is littered with ad hominem attacks, pleas to authority, and straw-man positions. In fact I would go so far as to characterize the typical public discourse as polarized ad hominem attacks on the straw-men of the pretend opponents.
Polarized Rhetoric Vomit Wars™
Notice that I laid that all out with no reference to partisanship. This is what nearly everyone substitutes for real and substantive debate of ideas, substituted for honest and in-depth engagement. I suspect it is because these things require that we listen to one another. Listen and not merely wait our turns to shout our preferred brand rhetorical monad.
The political actors have not be kind to we underlings. It is time we work together, listen to one another, and tell our governing representatives to do the hard work of driving our nation as a unified whole.
Or something very much like that.
For myself I’m going to (of course) continue to advocate for science in public and in policy. Education is an imperative for our democratic process.
Are you listening? Are you?