Post-Election Soul Searching: No Quarter

Well I promised that I was going to talk more about my Trump concerns, but unfortunately there is a little more scolding left to do of liberals, which includes me.  I want to talk about complacency and to do that I am going to start with a short YouTube video.

I don’t like her tone very much, and there are a few points I would disagree with, but much of it is hard to hear, because she’s right.  At least in my opinion. Because I was somebody who when Barack Obama was elected I thought that a black man being elected president was a giant step forward and he was so full of hope I felt it.  I felt it so strongly, that I fell into complacency.

The words of JFK continue to ring true, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”  There have been several studies that demonstrate optimism can lead to complacency and perhaps we are all victims of that.  A country this size has many problems and maybe too many people relied on government to fix them all.  The hope and change that Obama talked about was the responsibility of all us.  And as much I really do like Obama.  He had his flaws as we all do.  Hero worship gets us nowhere.  He still bowed down to the establishment more than he should have.  He still continued foreign policy mistakes of previous administrations, and while the economy recovered there was still growing income inequality and many of the American’s at the bottom saw no improvement in their situation.  This article shows that while there was overall growth in employment, the type of jobs and the quality of jobs matter. Hell we have to pay attention to the fact that even a Muslim…nay a Muslim woman voted for Trump.  I mean holy crap!  If you were to make a list of top 10 types of people to not vote for Trump that would have been near the top of the list.  Now while I believe this woman, given her overall viewpoint, seemed to focus on only a couple of issues compared to all the other ones it certainly tells us that the homogeneity that we apply to Trump supporters isn’t right and isn’t helping.

The other point the video makes is that Hillary is not perfect.  There are valid criticisms to be made.  An article I read today gave probably the most important reason she lost, which is that she didn’t offer anything new.

“But, the desire for change last Tuesday was bigger than any worries Clinton was able to raise about Trump. Four in 10 voters said the most important character trait in deciding their vote was a candidate who “can bring needed change” to Washington. Of that group, Trump won 83 percent to Clinton’s 14 percent — 83 to 14!!!!”
She was going to be the first female president, and I think that will be an amazing day when it happens.  But how would she have been any different than Obama?  Nobody had been able to convince me that she was progressive in any way.  And I’m not saying it’s a bad thing.  She’s worked very hard in her life and has accomplished a lot.  She’s smart.  But I found her to be reactive, not progressive, not a visionary.  There was no change that was the center of platform that was going to be the answer than many struggling Americans are looking for.  This is just my opinion, and I am sure there are those that would disagree.  As the article states, change is what people were looking for.  A change from the establishment, a definitive improvement on Obama’s policies, a voice that speaks to all Americans and not just the ones in swing states who already support her.  In that desperation for change….well…we got Trump.

You can feel the empathy.
You can feel the empathy  with many memes like this.

It’s unclear to me how much change this really represents, and change can certainly be negative.  I was also desperate for change, but I’ll choose slow decline over disaster any day.  But it is a terrible choice to have to make when you know that establishment politics isn’t working and the only choices you are given is the establishment and outsider who runs his campaign on lies, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.  And what of those last 3 words.  I know many people are upset at being labeled that way in supporting Trump.  Here is the thing.  If all your concerns were legitimate economic ones, were related to health care costs, or just going for change and wanting to vote for an outsider, why did Trump bother with all the racist comments?  Why did he bother fear mongering about existential threats from immigrants and Muslims?  Why did he say that was going to take away women’s rights to determine what happens to their own bodies?  Why was any of that necessary if, as a Trump voter, none of you are these things?  Why weren’t you critique Trump about it while also praising his strengths? This is what we are all struggling with.  So here is what I want to say to the Trump voters.

Dear Trump Supporter,

I will believe you when you say you are not a racist, not a xenophobe, not a misogynist.  I understand you are feeling like your voice has been demeaned and/or ignored, and that your life hasn’t improved or gotten worse.  I understand maybe you just really wanted somebody you felt was going to cause change.  But here’s the thing.  Your candidate said many racist, xenophobic and misogynistic things.  The very words that came out of his mouth was the worst kind of populism that was intended to exploit your fears and spur your anger.  As a result, you demonized a hardworking woman who, regardless of your disagreements with her views or her ethics, she has served this country for many years, introduced a lot of legislation to try and help people and has been an active voice for equality for race, gender, and other minority groups.  I disagree with many of her policy decisions but I have no idea what it’s like being her, trying to be a woman achieving success in a man’s world of politics.  So now you have voted to put a man in power, who, if he does the things he says we will see the violation of numerous constitutional and human rights.  If he enacts the policies he says he will enact we will see the national debt skyrocket, damage relations with foreign countries, and do great damage to the environment.  And the RNC platform is supportive of many of the things Trump said he was going to do during the campaign. This was the cost of your vote.  For many people that are potential victims of the views Trump espoused during the campaign, they are having a hard time understanding how your vote was not in support of those hateful views, but solely rooted in economic change and health care issues.  You want our empathy and understanding, and you will have it, but not at the expense of injustices acted upon other people.  There are plenty of countries where governments work to make all people happy.  We should not be an Us vs. Them scenario.  It is not moral to say “now it’s time to pay attention to you, and screw everybody else.”  So let me know how I can help you, but if you are asking me to hurt somebody else to do so, I simply won’t do it.

And this empathy that you want, this desire to be seen as a human, and complex, and knowledgeable and aware.  It runs both ways.  While I have seen many of my liberal friends condemning the violence at anti-Trump protests, I have yet to see one Trump supporter that I know is on my Facebook News Feed speak out against any of the bullying and violence from Trump supporters.  The most common responses are “These are Hillary plants”, “What about the violence and anti-Trump rallies”, “Give Trump a chance”, or links to fake stories or pictures about anti-Trump protestors.  Remember we also sat through 8 years of “birther” conspiracy theories, denigrating names towards the president, constant lies about how Obama wanted to take your guns, blaming Obama for pretty much everything, and so when you now say we should respect the new president-elect, please understand how hard that hypocrisy is for us to swallow.  The person you have elected has run a campaign based on division, has espoused hate and vowed to infringe on the rights of many people that we care deeply about.  We will not trade their safety for your prosperity.  So you must also work to find a way where we can all get along or nothing will really get better for anybody. 

Finally, we don’t have to like a person who, in his very own words, has promoted ideas that bring harm to people.  We don’t have to show tolerance to the hate, the authoritarianism, and the lies he told.  The cabinet he is building currently leans towards the idea that he really doesn’t care about the working class and that you’ve all been taken in by a snake oil salesman.  I hope this isn’t the case.  I hope that you can show the same amount of understanding and empathy that you expect from us right now, because quite honestly, looking over the rhetoric from the past 8 years, hearing the hateful chants at the Trump rallies, and the bullying and intimidation that’s been going on post-election, it’s difficult to see why I should be doing all the work in this relationship.  So I’ll refrain from calling you those divisive names and labels, if you work to prove that you are unworthy of them.

With Love,
Libtard, socialist, communist, bleeding heart, elitist, femiNazi, clueless liberal

P.S. And if Trump does become the disaster to American ideals of freedom and equality that he espoused during his campaign, anybody who didn’t actively try to stop him from becoming president in this election is responsible regardless of whether you feel the labels hurled against you are fair.

And finally, because every once in awhile we just need some inspirational words here is the response of Buddhist teachers to Trump’s win.

quote-when-i-despair-i-remember-that-all-through-history-the-way-of-truth-and-love-has-always-won-there-mahatma-gandhi-328441

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21 thoughts on “Post-Election Soul Searching: No Quarter

  1. It took homo sapiens 150 thousands years, give or take a few, to get to this point. We’ve made remarkable advances, and we have especially seen great progress in human rights over the last 50 years. Americans have become microwave citizens. In just eight short years, they wanted to reverse the damage caused by 2 wars, and the greatest recession since the 1929 market crash that plunged America into a deep depression. They wanted microwave change? They got it.

    Yet, another thought-provoking post, Swarn, you bleeding heart, socialist, communist, elitist, femiNazi, clueless liberal,libtard. ❤

    Btw, we posted at the exact same time, and I found it interesting that we used an image quote at the end of our post from the same website. Get out of my head. Lol

    Liked by 3 people

  2. That is a much better way than I would/could have phrased a lot of what I am feeling.

    I’m much more rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. 🙂

    All I can think about this situation is, we will all reap what has been sown. And I don’t like the seeds I’ve seen planted. I only hope they don’t all take root.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I feel that raw feeling too shell… Just trying to calm the storm as well. In talking to several of my friends it just seems so surreal that a man like Trump could be elected. I too hope that those seeds don’t take root because many will suffer on both sides of the aisle.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A really nicely constructed and measured article, Swarn. Aside from a slew of such learned blog posts, I must’ve read a hundred pieces in other media on this result, if I’ve read one, nearly all having focused on micro-reasons for what’s happened. Hillary being ‘hard-working’, ‘smart’, ‘experienced’, and female doesn’t excuse her being an utterly dreadful candidate, in my view, as would appear also to be the view of many who voted democrat in the previous two elections. [We can pass on the ‘democratic’ reasons why she was chosen as the candidate.] Merely being ‘better’ than Trump is hardly going to inspire potential voters lulled into complacency by the ubiquitously and egregiously flawed polls. But that’s another micro-reason, really.

    For me, the elephant in the room, and the reason we are where we are (in Europe and the U.S.) is the failure of Neoliberalism to come good on its promise these past 35 years. And despite all his protectionist talk, I feel confident Trump will fail to mitigate through legislation the pernicious effects of global free market capitalism, just as will be so in Europe, where the Far Right is also on the rise. I suspect it’s the effects of that unfettered capitalism which people are angry about, even though not all will perceive it in those terms and may instead seek to blame immigration, rather than the acceleration in inequality which neoliberalism has wrought, and which they can clearly witness through its conspicuousness. There’s an excellent piece written by George Monbiot back in April and which covers the arguments, for those who may be interested:

    “So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.”

    Source: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Hariod. I agree with you. The same tactic of “Better than Bush” was tried in 2004 and did not sway voters. Clinton never advanced a platform that offered hope to the people of this country, only focused on why Trump was a horrible human being…and when the other person is slinging mud back at you, you aren’t winning minds and hearts, you are just another boxer in the ring. Trump tapped into the emotions of people and not in a good way like Bernie Sanders. Trump offered up people’s favorite spectres and promised to get rid of them. But ghosts aren’t real. People accused Bernie Sanders of fear mongering here in criticism, but he was at least exposing the real villains. He was quite simply right. To me fear mongering is much more permissible when you are actually revealing to them who the actual enemy is.

      This article was a great read. Thank you for sharing it. I was curious as to how neoliberalism is different from libertarianism. Because it seems there is a lot of overlap in those ideologies.

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      1. The term ‘libertarianism’ is rarely used over here in England; at least, not within the context of laissez-faire economic liberalism, anyway, and ‘neoliberalism’ has gained far more traction – perhaps because of its European roots and usage in Hayek’s writings, and as embraced by Thatcher? Also, not all libertarians support the ideology of neoliberalism, of course. People here widely understand what being a ‘social libertarian’ means, and generally the term ‘liberal’ is nowhere near as perniciously perceived (as it is in the States), other than for in the term ‘neoliberalism’. It’s one of those words that tends to become almost clichéd in its over-usage, but better that people grasp its meaning and applicability than reject if for familiarity – one thinks of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

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  4. This election has really made me reconsider the idea that maybe a very small, limited government is indeed the way to go. Not because government is inherently bad, as many would claim, but because I don’t think Americans are mature enough or rational enough to government ourselves. We’ve seen it time and time again here: Americans in general aren’t interested in the common good. And since the common good is what government is all about, the two are naturally incompatible.

    So maybe everything should happen at the local level. That way all the liberals can govern themselves, and all the conservatives can govern themselves, and the two don’t have to cross over.

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      1. LOL…indeed. It’s funny how we are the ones who are terrible people for not wanting to take what the government forces upon. Even though what the right wants to force on us has nothing to do with economics, but everything to do with increasing inequality and accepting Jesus as a greater part of everyday operations!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Well put, sir. You echo many thoughts of us Brits too, stuck as we are between Trump and Brexit. Who knows how it will all pan out. Not only a good post, but now I’m here, I’m finding chums Ark and Victoria are here too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks you so much! I am still going through arrange of emotions. Trying to sort it all out. I still can’t help shake the feeling that it can’t be real. So I’ve needed to look for those real reasons. The west has lost its damn mind it appears…but maybe we are always closer to the brink of chaos than we think. And just maybe we aren’t as humble as we need to be.

      And yes I guess I’ve been hiding in plain site. I am so glad you aren’t in completely unfamiliar territory!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s surely a lot to look out for. One of our TV academic historians Dr David Starkey did a great analysis last year on Magna Carta. One of his more unsettling conclusions was that we in the UK are sleepwalking towards a totalitarian state. The trouble is democracy takes a helluva lot of maintenance, and it doesn’t seem to fit in with the average home’s TV, school run, work or shopping schedules. We’re all guilty.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s interesting, but it seems though that if you go back to the time of the Magna Carta didn’t people have harder lives and less time to maintain democracy. Technology has essentially given us all more leisure time. Although a study I read about perceptions of time in societies with bigger economies is that we are stressed by the clock and think we have less time than we actually do. I don’t know…I do know people who are extremely busy of course, but it seems that in general, if it’s a matter of having the time to be active we should be better off with time, not worse. It seems like there is more at play here…some level of apathy that we have been lulled into. I don’t know.

          In Asimov’s Robot series he actually had a negative view of technology in that it made us less likely to thrive and struggle. That the ease caused by technology led to a certain aversion to growth. I see elements of that. The topic definitely requires some more investigation.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Have just been on that very subject – re Asimov’s view – over on another blog. As a sometime prehistorian and anthropologist, I would say there is much truth in it. This is also reminding me of the 70s TV series/book Bronowski’s Ascent of Man. Re human development there is something intrinsically essential going on between brain, hand, eye and the making of something to solve a problem. So this has made me think that most of us these days farm this activity out to someone else. Basically we ‘lose capacity’. As to people in the past having less time because they had harder lives, I’m feeling that this wasn’t altogether true. Work was often seasonal, and in winter there was time – hence the festivals, storytelling etc. The real screwup for humanity, it seems to me, began with industrialisation and the factory system, and the whole clocking on culture that now dominates our lives. We do have time, or we would have if we chose to use it more wisely. And we do have plenty of apathy. Having too many choices – in every single aspect of our lives – I think is one source of disempowerment. We think choice makes us more free. It could be the opposite. So yes, I think the Asimov contention is very fertile territory. It’s also making me think of your piece on the US elections. People are hurting. They know they are hurting. But have lost touch with the means to make their lives better. And into this yawning chasm of incapacity marches the demagogue. Cripes!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. It’s true that work was seasonal, although my grandfather who was a farmer was still pretty busy in the winter. There were livestock, there were fences to fix, the general maintenance that is needed when the weather is cold is often great. That aside, one could go even further back and argue that our biggest mistake was farming. It’s hard to view it as a mistake because I think we were really only trying to make sure we had a secure source of food. But it is what allowed populations to explode. It led to cities and vast conglomerations of people who didn’t know each other despite their close geographic proximity. It created class structures, and while the average farmer had less leisure time and died of illness at the age of 20 from working around animal feces all day, all of a sudden there were swaths of people who didn’t have to do anything at all. Artisans, craftsmen, politicians, scientists, clergy, businessmen etc. Thus it would be inevitable that we would come to understand the true nature of time and learn to measure it accurately and see how efficient it made everything, all the while seeing that efficiency isn’t always what it’s cracked up to me, because we are not machines. We need to do things like play and tell stories to be healthy, sane, creative, and maintain that ever important evolutionary trait of empathy. As a scientist I find it hard to regret the invention of farming because if scientists had to spend most of their day gathering food it wouldn’t be terribly easy to do science and we have discovered much about how the universe works and it amazes me beyond delight. At the same time there seem to be so many other side effects of civilization that I do sometimes wonder if all this knowledge was all worth it.
              The fact remains that whether in a hunter-gatherer tribe or now, we are all in this together. We are all of the same species, one gigantic human tribe, and even though we do not all know each other, it doesn’t excuse us from being good to our tribe. The Earth sustains us all and we are doing great damage to it as well. Protecting the Earth is also part of taking care of each other. The most vulnerable of our tribe will suffer the most from our actions and to me that makes every day that we don’t act on many of things we have done to it immoral.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. Agree with all of this. I’ve spend a lot of time considering our hunter-gatherer/nomadic herder days – pretty much 99.99999% of our time on the planet after all! This is what we were evolved to do. In this sense farming could be seen as a gross aberration. One thing that concerns me is all the false pasts we’ve been currently fed – benign and not so benign. Losing touch with where we’ve been seems to be one of the biggest dangers, and accounts for much of our grossest abuse of the earth. You are right. We ARE one tribe.

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  6. Pingback: Who Sells The Pasts-That-Never-Were ~ Are We Seeing The Danger Signals? – Tish Farrell

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