I don’t know a way to answer your question other than writing this out. I hope it helps.
One short answer is: I don’t know. I’m no expert in this. The only thing(s) I know is/are from experience and I’ll tell you what I think I’ve learned from that and how that might have gotten us to where we are today. You’re only 13 now, but someday you’ll learn just as much as I have in 28 years and probably more.
First, it’s important to understand that you live in a bubble. I do too. We live in a place that has a more unified message than the country at large. So part of what is happening is disbelief—that the country voted in a way that is not consistent with your own experience. It can be jarring to realize this in any manner.
In the coming days/weeks, you’ll hear a lot about how divided our country is. It’s important to take that message in, but understand that most Americans are living in a bubble too. We’re divided, but clustered together. A lot of those bubbles are different than yours and mine. And it’s hard to hear what’s going on in those other bubbles. Now we know a little bit more.
Maybe we did hear some things, though. We’ve known the country is divided and we knew that Donald Trump’s message was resonating. The losing candidate in this election, we knew, would have at least 50 million people vote on their side. That’s a whole lot of people.
We’ll get to what that message is in a minute but you can think of this closer to home. Our father, for instance, has talked about Trump and his message for months. I don’t think Dad voted for Obama, but I don’t think he voted for George Bush either. He’s a swing voter, and his clinging to Trump was a sign.
I love our father and he’s taught me many things about being a good person, but it pains me to know that it’s voters like him—white, of the working class—that have decided this election. It pains me because I’ve seen what sits within that bubble and cluster. The racism, sexism. The belief that an American white male deserves more simply for being just that.
Someday you’ll get to read and hear the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I’m excited for you to do so. Dr. King was one of the greatest thinkers in this country’s history. His messages deserve so much more weight than they are given. He once said:
“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice”
He wrote that about 60 years ago and it’s still true today. Things are decided by white men (and women) who are scared of disorder and choose to pursue security, safety, stability rather than fairness and justice for those that cannot pursue security, safety, and stability themselves.
This was Trump’s message. Make America Great Again was directed at the disenfranchised working class. I liked my America. It was already great. I’ve been to 35 other countries and none of them have what we have. We get to vote. We get great art, great schools, and the freedom to be (in many cases, not all unfortunately, but many) who we want to be. This is a good thing that I loved when thinking about the USA while not in it.
But that was not the case for many people. Those who lost jobs and saw nowhere to go to get new ones. Those who felt that politicians never did anything for them and their bubbles. They were frustrated. They were angry.
I don’t know if you know the word disenfranchised. It’s okay if you don’t. It’s not a commonly used word, but it’s an important one to know when it comes to politics.
A disenfranchised group refers to people feeling pushed out. They feel like no one is fighting for them or that no one cares. They feel like they’re losing and are helpless. It’s a very powerful feeling and one that an orator can exploit (you learned a bit about this with 1910’s Russia and will learn a lot more about 1930’s Germany). Still, someone needs to answer how these groups got to feeling that way in the first point.
In this race, the Democrats will need to examine this. I won’t get into the whole breakdown or game of politics but they’ll see the way the votes broke and have to create a new strategy.
For now, we know that Hillary Clinton was not the candidate to defeat the Trump message. I don’t know why, and I don’t know why there’s such a predominance of hate for her. In terms of logistics, her campaign did not do its job. They took some states for granted (Wisconsin) and lost them. They could have had a better strategy. At the end of the day, lots of voters simply just voted against her, rejecting her for one reason or another.
IF people rejected her because she is a woman, directly or indirectly, then that is a sin of great cowardice. Those people will have to look themselves in the mirror and know that they’ve thought lesser of someone because of her gender. They’ll have to live with that. Sadly, it seems like that’s the case for thousands, if not millions, of Americans and nothing about this outcome will change that cowardly way of thinking.
But, and I cannot stress this enough, you cannot let that stop you, Lindsey. You are a woman and this is not a world that’s made things easy for you the way it has for me. The best way to change that is by overcoming it, by beating down the pillars that have it this way. But it will not be easy and it has not been easy for those that have come before you. Continue to do well in school, go to a great college that challenges your mind and then spread messages of wisdom and love and peace and compassion.
My hope is that the amongst all of the pain that we’re feeling from this, we will see a strengthening of the causes we care most about. Equal rights for everyone, regardless of skin color, gender, sexual identity, anything. ANYTHING.
We will move on and survive from here. And in our fighting against the injustices that this man represents, we will find great strength and learn about the struggles of others and what we can do to help. We will band together in our bubbles and work to expand them and listen to others, but be relentless in a pursuit for people’s rights to be free.
You will be a part of that and the next four years will be so instrumental in who you are as an adult. Know that this is an opportunity and not a curse.
In those years and the ones after, there will be many times you want to fight with great vengeance. And fight you will. And so will I. But our fighting is not done with brutality, or hate, or shaming. It is done with discourse, with wisdom, with trust and empathy and love and hope and optimism. We will not revert to any level lower than that. And on the days you find it too hard to do that and so much easier to cut someone down, to debase a group of people, to hate…..you call me. And we’ll talk through it, kid.
Try to remember what another poet once wrote: For all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.