Us and Them

Us and Them
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It has taken me weeks to recover from the emotional stress of this Presidential Campaign and its outcome. I know I am not alone. It is hard to know what to say because everything has already been said. Many in this country have been traumatized by the words of the man who will be our next president. I can hardly bring myself to mention his name. I hear people say to get over it. I guess the real problem is that they don’t understand what it is that I can’t get over.

I try to comprehend these people who support Trump. It is hard to truly see them from where I sit. I think it is also hard for them to see me from where they sit. They probably think we in the “Blue” are a bunch of radical, elitist, sore losers. The “Blues” think that the “Trumpets” are racist misogynist bullies. I am sure that there is some truth to both statements but that is not the entire picture. Both sides are full of fear.

The Trump supporters are afraid that the Government will take their guns, export their jobs, and overtax them to pay for welfare mothers who pop out babies to milk the system or illegals who happily take that hard earned money and their jobs. They are afraid of terrorists hiding around every corner. They are afraid of Government-as- usual because Government-as-usual has done nothing to help them. But most of all, they fear a changing country where being white is no longer a privilege.

On the “Blue” side, we are afraid that we are being dragged into the past. I think we could stomach a change in Washington but what we can’t abide by is the hate that became apparent at the Trump Rallies. We are afraid of losing women’s reproductive freedom which is in my opinion the American version of Sharia law. We are afraid of isolating people based on religion or sexual orientation. We are afraid of losing religious freedom and freedom-from religion.

This is not an election about candidates, it is an election about people. Here is a quote from one of my friends who is in a same sex marriage. It demonstrates the real fears that face people as a result of this election. It is difficult for me to compare this to the fear over gun control laws (that do not take away guns, only restricts them). Or as we heard from Trump voters over and over, their fears Government- as- usual in Washington. It is difficult to compare such trivial fears to the fear of losing your family.

Assuming this turns out the way it looks like it will, tomorrow I will kiss my son good morning and then get to work to legally adopt him (which for those of you that don't know, with my current rights, was not necessary). God knows what Trump will do to repeal the wonderful progress we've had if the things he has promised come to fruition. My family could be refused medical care, service of any kind - due to religious beliefs. His Supreme Court nominees could put my marriage into question. Thanks to Trump and 3rd party voters for reminding me how privileged folks easily forget the issues that don't "impact" them. ~Jen from Voorhees, New Jersey

For us “Blue” voters, there is much at stake with the outcome of this election. As a woman, I want to be able to make decisions about my own body and size of my family. I have been fortunate to live in a state where that has always been possible. It is not such a concern for myself anymore but I care about all women. I can’t think only of myself. If we all did that, what kind of world are we creating for future generations?

For my Syrian refugee family, I worry because I see increased hate crimes targeting Muslims. It is interesting to see this country through their eyes. The oldest girl in the family asked me, “ Auntie, why do white people hate black people?” That is a difficult question to answer especially when speaking to a new English learner.

This country was moving forward in acceptance and understanding of it’s LGBTQ citizens. We saw that bullying was causing emotional pain and suicide among our teenagers. I was hopeful that we were moving in the right direction, toward kindness. Then I was shocked to see Trump, the ultimate bully, become the Republican nominee and then go on the win the Presidential election. On November 8th we took many steps backward.

I've been quiet this entire election season and after Tuesday I'm not going to lie I was severely disappointed with how it went. My whole childhood i had to deal with bullies. There were days when I didn't want to go to school. I even left my public high school for two years because of it. Now here we are in 2016 and we have elected a giant bully. What I did learn back then was I let those people affect me and my emotions. The second I became comfortable with who I was and fought for what I believed I ended up on top. So these next four years might be difficult but I know that I'm going to fight for the rights of my brother, Scotty and I, the LGBTQ, women, people of sexual assault, the disabled, and all the minorities. I will not give up hope on America. Never. Zachary, San Diego, California

Racism is a word that has come to the forefront during this election although it has been a thread in our entire American history. I know many Trump voters are offended at being called racists and lumped in with with the white supremacists. I can only answer to this by saying, careful who you associate with. Your choices are a reflection on your character. It is very easy for a white person to look the other way because they are not the ones who will be hurt by Trump policies. At least not right away. That is because Trump does not have a plan so he is bringing in the worst of the worst of the same old Washington crowd to help him. I thought this was about change. Trump voters; if you wanted real change you should have chosen a candidate who is strong in Character. Trump is not your guy.

If what you really want is something you don’t want to speak out loud then we can’t fix the problem. Is it a white America you really want when you say “Make America Great Again?” I have news for you. America has never been white. Rather It has oppressed people of color and non-heterosexual orientation in order for white people to advance. Is this the unspoken reason so many people supported Trump?

“ Auntie, what do white people hate black people?” Farah. Pomona California

We have to stop fighting this Civil War. We have to find a way to talk to each other and heal. I will try to understand the Trump voter but I ask that they try to understand me in return. I would not have been able to write these words the day after the election. I do need to accept my country and the American citizens who live here no matter who they voted for. To write off the Trump voters and to refuse to dialogue would be hypocritical. How can I call on them to accept Muslims, LGBTQ and immigrants if I don’t accept Trump voters? This can’t be a pick and choose option. Maybe we can find a point on which to agree.

One topic we might agree on is campaign reform. Citizens United has created a mess in Washington and one chance to overturn it was to have a liberal supreme court. We lost that opportunity with the election of Trump. Wouldn’t it be great to put as much effort and passion into campaign reform as we put into this presidential election? We can’t elect people thinking they will fix our country. We must elect ideas and we must get involved to change Washington.

This does not mean that accept a Trump presidency. My values don’t make it possible. My patriotism points me toward social action and a continuation of my work with Syrian refugees. I have spent time grieving and reflecting. Now is the time to get organized.

Never in the history of this country have citizens been so afraid of their own President. Never in the history of this country have schools had to tell the students not to be afraid of the President Elect. The world leaders are concerned. The day after the election felt like a National Tragedy. This is not a healthy way to start a Presidential term. The very fact that neo-Nazis, white nationalists and anti-Semites are saluting Trump in a style reminiscent of Hitler, is troubling.

Trump is weak in character and that is why he didn’t understand the repercussions of his campaign rhetoric. It was dangerous. All the hate and venom has come to the surface and now they have expectations from Mr. Trump. I wonder what it feels like to wake up and realize that you are Adolf Hitler? Trump is not wise enough to understand how he got to this place and he is not strong enough to get himself and this country out of it.

To the Trump voters I say this; You gave power to the hate.” There were always the fringe groups but what Trump did was activate the prejudice that lay sleeping in rural America. This is the reason we will see protesters and marches on inauguration day. This is the reason the ACLU is on guard. This is the reason schools are counseling children who are afraid of the new president.This is the reason I will remain vigilant and I will speak out. There are people who I love that will live the next four years in fear.

I try to understand the other side but I find it difficult. I just don’t think they had as much to lose, had the election result turned out different. I am not against change in Washington but I don’t believe that Trump is the man to make that happen because he really doesn’t care about anyone but himself. I would guess that Trump is waking up to the reality of what he got himself into and is frightened out of his mind. This is where we find ourselves and the question now is, was it worth it?

How do we reach for each other across this sea of fear?

Kathleen Jacobson

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