Understanding the Election outcome - Some initial thoughts

posted Nov 9, 2016, 7:25 AM by Daniel Laurison

Dear friends, I can't say I fully understand how or why Donald Trump is going to be our next President, and I'm partly writing this to work some of it out for myself. But the thing I keep coming back to is I don't want us, the broad left, the people who voted for Clinton or opposed Trump, to think that roughly half of Americans are our enemies.

First, it looks like turnout was maybe 56% of eligible voters (a higher percent of registered voters), so already Trump voters are less than 28% of adults in this country. While overall turnout was up, that's still no where near a majority.

Second, and this is the thing I think it's most important to remember as we try to understand and plan and organize, even though all those people voted for Trump, they weren't all answering the same questions, let alone the same question you or I might have been answering. Most people don't think about voting or politics the way I do. They made an awful choice, but not necessarily because they are all awful people or have awful values.

Most people I know, when they voted, were answering questions like
- Who is most qualified?
- Who is most likely to work for some of the policies I believe in?
- Who comes closest to sharing my values and beliefs?
- Who do I want to have to fight when I'm fighting for an end to police violence, an end to wars, an end to economic and racial injustice, to stop climate change? 
- Do I think racism, bullying, islamophobia, sexual assault and misogyny are OK?

Please don't assume that most people who voted Trump were answering those same questions.

Some people who voted Trump (and many who voted Clinton, too) were answering really different kinds of questions: 
- Do I think we need a change in this country?
- Who makes me feel like national politics can include people like me?
- Am I better or worse off than I was a few years ago?
- Am I a Republican? 
- Who are people around me voting for?

Some of them, of course, were deliberately and consciously voting for the racist misogynist (etc etc) bully, and/or, to paraphrase Arlie Hochschild in her new book, were voting their belief that "other people" have unfairly cut them in the line for a nice life in this country.

I think we can take a little while to grieve and mourn, and then to try to understand better, and then we can organize, to reduce the harm that Trump can do to this country and to Black and Brown people, immigrants, and the Earth.

One last thought, if anyone is still reading: I remember thinking "this isn't my country" and joking about seceding in 2004 when Bush was re-elected. I genuinely think Trump is scarier and his support harder to stomach, but this time I know this is indeed my country, flawed and racist and awful as parts of it are, and I'm not even joking about moving. I will keep working to move this country and our world towards the kind of world I want to live in and to leave to my children.