John Pavlovitz posted an eloquent piece about the loss of the US presidential election to Donald Trump called, Here’s Why We Grieve Today. It provides a thoughtful, passionate explanation of the grief felt by many of the Never-Trumpers. As a former national security geek, I also am aghast at his victory and cringe when I think of America’s future under his administration. I understand your pain, but way of offering a little self-insight, please allow me to deconstruct it.
Mr. Pavlovitz writes,
It feels like living in enemy territory being here now, and there’s no way around that. We wake up today in a home we no longer recognize. We are grieving the loss of a place we used to love but no longer do. This may be America today but it is not the America we believe in or recognize or want.
If you feel this way then, as they say, check your privilege.
You assumed that almost everyone around you shared your values – values that serve as a identity badges that help you connect with like minded people. You are shocked and frightened that this now seems not to be so. And you feel a bit intimidated about sharing those identity badges as widely as you once did. You are grieving for a loss of privilege for your point of view.
“How does it feel to be a working class white male?” I asked a Trump supporter who is an Asian-American suburban professional with an advanced degree. We laughed, still friends even though we voted opposite ways this time. There were plenty of other people from other demographics who went for Trump. The idea that only working class whites supported Trump is a kind of prejudice. The idea that all working class whites are racist and/or anti-LGBTQ is another.
It’s true that Trump won in part because for the first time working-class whites voted more or less as a block, which is the voting pattern one might expect from a minority – even though working class whites are the largest single demographic (about 36% according to a 2012 PEW analysis) among US voters. By the numbers they are not marginalized, but their voting pattern indicates that they feel marginalized. They too are grieving a loss of privilege. And they show it by being the only US demographic experiencing decreased longevity – due largely to addiction and suicide.
Marginalized by whom? Well, if you feel as Mr. Pavlovitz does, then maybe by you and the elites you support. Elites who are now trying to get rid of the Electoral College, an act which will further marginalize them.
As hard as it may seem, I suggest you use your grief to try to feel a little empathy for them. This is still America. We need to talk with each other rather than try to force all of our values on one another, all the way. We need to embrace negotiation, persuasion, compromise and consensus. Otherwise, we can probably date the loss of American primacy in the world from this election.