It has been with a mix of bemusement and pained resignation that I have watched the sadly predictable torrent of vitriol flood social media since election night revealed its astonishing plot twist. Predictable, since, as I’ve noted before, those who seem to live their lives wrapped in a Teflon banner of 21st century-style “tolerance” are too often among the most intolerant people out there. They’ll tolerate anyone or anything - so long as it in no way conflicts with or falls short of condoning and praising every tenant of their belief set. “My way or the highway,“ to borrow an old-school phrase.
To judge from the venting since The Clinton Coronation went down in the flames of populist revolt, you’d think David Duke was our president-elect, with the inauguration taking place at the warped Westboro Baptist Church. Good grief.
There is, of course, no shortage of opinion over why things played out the way they did, and what lies ahead. I am no exception.
I was surprised, but not stunned, that Trump won. Part of it may simply be cyclical. Typically, it seems, eight years of steering The Good Ship America in one direction leads to an inevitable course correction. Certainly not the first time it’s played out that way, anyway. But deeper than that, I feel this was a clear repudiation of some of what was forced upon us over the last eight years, and the anticipated continuation of those policies during a “Clinton 2.0” administration.
And what to make of this ad-lib revolution? Well, count me among those ‘revolutionaries’ weary of my demographic being branded as no more than a bunch of bigoted, homophobic, Islamophobic, war-mongering, holier-than-thou, outdated relics of unenlightened, uneducated thinking — particularly by people who don’t know me whatsoever on a personal level. As part of the ‘new oppressed minority’ — middle-aged white evangelicals — I’d simply like to be understood…and have my reasoning and beliefs, you know…tolerated.
Judging individuals with an overly broad brush is a slippery slope. Take the anti-Trump protests which erupted after the election. Should I lump every liberal Clinton supporter in with those who burned flags, assaulted passersby and vandalized property? That seems unreasonable to me — every bit as unreasonable as lumping every person who didn’t vote for her in with the racist/misogynist crowd.
I’m blessed with a lot of caring, passionate liberal friends and family members, whose core motives I have no reason to question. Yes, I passionately disagree with them on some key issues, but I do so with the belief that they are motivated by the same genuine care and concern for their fellow citizens that motivates me.
For those who just can’t understand why anyone would vote for Trump over Clinton, allow me to attempt to lend some clarity.
I’m one of what I suspect is a very large group that struggled mightily with this election. Never before have both major parties performed so poorly in presenting a palatable presidential candidate. Egregious flaws which have existed in each party’s selection process were fully exposed, and the result was painful. I remained a staunch independent from age 18 until a few years ago when I finally tired of being shut out of the primary process. I registered conservative, but that didn’t allow me meaningful entry into the primary process, either, so I registered Republican to at least have a voice. And, as noted in a prior blog, that’s the extent of my influence here in the blue State of New York. (Perhaps the angst over the close popular/electoral vote split this time around will at least spur much-overdue reform toward a one person/one vote system…though I have to wonder how vocal the Barbara Boxers of the world would be about this if Clinton had won.)
Anyway, for me and many others, this vote came down to a few key core issues — foreign policy, such as the chance to rescind the absolutely disastrous Iran nuclear treaty, and the implications of anticipated SCOTUS appointments being two of them — and which party most closely aligned with my beliefs. It didn’t come down as much to the candidates themselves, since I found them equally unsavory. Am I concerned about Donald Trump’s credentials and core beliefs? You bet I am. Ironically, some of my concerns about him as a person come down to the fact that, in prior decades, he leaned decidedly more liberal that he portrayed himself during his campaign. He really does seem to be an enigma, and I doubt anyone outside of his inner circle has that much of a clue yet how his administration will truly play out. Clinton, by contrast, would’ve been as predictable as sunset.
So, to borrow an old George Bush line: “Read my lips.” I, albeit reluctantly, voted for Donald Trump, and it was a reasoned decision made by a college graduate. I’m not a racist, I’m not a misogynist. I harbor no inherent bias against a woman being president; Golda Meir convinced me a woman can effectively lead a long time ago. I care about all people, I care deeply about our country, which is in more trouble right now than it’s ever been in. But also, please know this: I care even more deeply about my faith, and I don’t see my love of country and that faith as somehow mutually exclusive. Rather, I see them as inseparable. The forced divorce of America from its foundational Judeo-Christian beliefs and ethics is now many decades old, and I don’t think it’s going very well. I’d say it’s time for a course correction there as well, and if holding my nose and coloring in the circle next to “Trump” is ultimately a step in that direction, then it will prove to be the right move.