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A Time for Reflection

 

Liberals, Democrats, and Independents: Beware! Now is not the time to charge blindly forward along the same path that led us to where we find ourselves today. Now is the time to STOP and THINK.

Eight years ago, Republicans lost to Barack Obama in a veritable landslide and I distinctly remember hearing Democrats telling them to consider carefully how they got to that point. They did not. Oh, they gave the idea some lip service but ultimately they only gave birth to the “tea party,” a hyper-concentrated version of what they already were. They didn’t learn. They didn’t listen. Then, they nominated Trump and Democrats said, “Surely, this is the end!”
This morning, amidst shock, anger, grief and despair, I see a common theme: It’s time to fight! Now is not the time to mourn, now is not the time to bury our heads in the sand, now is the time to stride forward, ever onward! To save our country from hatred and bigotry.

Whoa! Hold on there. We still haven’t got a clear answer to: WTF happened?

I see plenty of ready answers, especially: The country is swimming in more hateful, ignorant, racist, sexist, deplorable people than we thought.

Maybe it is. But these are still our fellow Americans, part of our system of government run by the people. And calling them hateful, ignorant, racist, sexist, or deplorable is NOT the way to win their hearts. If we learn nothing else from this election cycle, I hope we learn that.

What would happen if we took a moment to listen? Not just to hear and to judge, but to truly try to understand the fears of a nation willing to set aside a hugely qualified candidate in favor of … (leaving out my usual adjectives for the sake of avoiding hypocrisy) Donald Trump?

Among other things, this vote split alarmingly between urban and rural voters. My husband is from rural Arkansas, his family (Trump supporters) still live there, and he has many Facebook friends who share these ideals. Last night, even before it became clear that Clinton would lose, even when it was simply clear that the election would be astoundingly close, we talked about why.

Democrats don’t speak to rural voters, he said. Most of the social programs and changes they want to enact disproportionately benefit city dwellers. And yes, this is partly due to infrastructure problems, but it’s no less true.

Meanwhile, he said, they’re afraid. They already live a life that takes them from paycheck to paycheck, they’re fired up with pride in their own hard work (ie they don’t want handouts), and they’re frankly being talked down to by Democrats. Is it any wonder that when Republicans give them something to fear, that they latch onto it?

I’m still processing all of that and I have no answers for you. Answers are not the point of this post. The point of this post is to implore Democrats to ask the questions.

Some say political discussion is futile, that it can only end in anger, and that no one ever changes their mind. As someone who has changed her mind a great deal over the years, down to some fundamental issues like abortion, gun control, gay rights, taxes, and health care, I know this is false.

But I never. Not once. Ever. Changed my mind when someone insulted me.

Political discussion is, in fact, essential to a free country. But it has to be a discussion, with give and take, with open minds and willing hearts. We have to give one another the benefit of the doubt that being on the opposite side of a political issue does not make someone a bad person.

And I know … believe me I know … that Republicans do it too. But they won. So let’s grow up and figure this thing out the only way anything has ever been figured out: By thinking things through, talking, and listening.

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6 Thoughts on “A Time for Reflection

  1. Claire Ashgrove on November 9, 2016 at 11:28 am said:

    I am a rural inhabitant who grew up in suburbia, and your husband’s remarks ring home with me in many ways. Up until we get to the remark about ‘fear’ which I disagree with a lot, unless we’re talking fear of banning guns.

    I too have benefited from, or could benefit more, for many of the social welfare programs that have been put forth or safeguarded by the Democrats. I feel I have to mention that because it pulls in a ‘down the road’ perspective.

    Rural America is left out. Rural America is rooted in faith, neighbors, and land. Faith has become a minority, and in rural America, that is an insult. Growing up in the city it is easy to be a “passive Christian” so to speak. Growing up in the country — you go to Church or you are outcast. I am still a passive Christian in many respects; you won’t see me picking a candidate based on faith issues – ever. I have a middle-of-the-road perspective and I embrace MANY of the cultures, people, and lifestyles that Faith America condemns. And I’m not so good about dragging myself out of bed every Sunday either.

    BUT.

    I have watched and listened. For eight years different minorities were represented (appropriately) at the expense and condemnation of the Faith America. So now Faith is not represented except by the really radical Tea-Partiers. Land… Farming and Agriculture is not represented by the Democrats. While I personally agree with the EPA restrictions, that’s a big issue for farms, and that puts “environment” in conflict with “agriculture”. And between regulation, lack of endorsement and representation, it’s become a common phrase that a farmer has to have a full-time job to support his farm. At least anyone who wants to get into it and doesn’t inherit a generational farm.

    In small communities jobs may be available. MAY. But they are minimum wage and few and far between. They are available from private business owners who are only slightly better off than the people they are employing. Vastly different from say even the business owner in Lee’s Summit. They run businesses because the service is needed and a profit is very marginal. Most of these business owners are “old county farming money” that has allowed them to not have overhead so they can pay an employee. We don’t see growth in our towns, we don’t see growth in our businesses. It’s virtually impossible to come in and open a business that is want-based, and make that American Dream come true. This almost directly parallels the struggle of “Blue-Collar” workers.

    So why does Rural America swing red? Not necessarily fear. It’s discontent. It’s a minority being overlooked, lumped into “white privilege” and yes, pride. We’ve pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps. Eaten food on the verge of turning, or maybe should be in the trash. We’ve worked sun-up to sun-down. We have great years. We have terrible years. There’s nobody handing out hay in a cold winter. But without cows the rest of America would have a hard hard time.

    I look at the color map of the popular vote. The majority popular vote came from big cities. That’s where the most people live. And if we went with a straight popular vote, Rural America would be forgotten entirely. They swing Red because it is, literally, a fight for their existence and until the Democrats can consider us in their agenda for minorities… it’s not going to change much. Right now, that agenda (no matter how valuable or necessary it is) is opposed to the values, traditions, and lifestyle of country folk.

    And guns. Heh. God help the person who tries to take a country man’s gun. LOL I don’t believe we’ll see a true change with that — it’s so hard to modify the constitution — but that is such a rally call.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      FTR, the “fear” comment was specifically in regards to those voting more against Clinton than for Trump. There is an almost bizarre (to me) fear of the woman based more on vagueness and rumors than fact. I’m … torn on Clinton. I was a Sanders *supporter* and a reluctant Clinton *voter*, if that distinction makes sense. But I have to admit that in the fury of knee-jerk fear mongering dished out by Republicans, I lost sight of why I disliked her in the first place. But I digress … the point is rural voters seem to have a great deal of fear and hatred for her.

      Some of what I hear you say about rural voters makes sense. Farming, in particular, is a topic that Austin and I discussed last night — the takeover of farming by corporate farms and the needs of the small farmers that do remain. It’s certainly not an issue spotlighted at the national level.

      As for rural voters not being represented… It seems to me that Republicans, at least, are their champions, albeit not at the presidential level in this election. But in congress, and in states … Kansas is so red it’s bleeding! And here in the suburbs, when I ask, “Why o why did Brownback win?” the answer is “the farmers out west.”

      Which isn’t to discount the perception. It just goes to show that the perception on both sides may be of having one’s government controlled by “people who do not represent me.” Something we need to acknowledge in order to have the rest of the conversation. 🙂

      There is another factor to consider this year, however: Early evidence suggests that rural voters turned out in record numbers. Why? To vote for Trump or against Clinton?

      My guess is against Clinton, but if so, what is it about her? Issues? Elitism? Scandals?

      Again, my sense is that despite what liberals are saying, this came down to issues. And by focusing on racism and sexism rather than issues, Clinton might have really hurt herself. She tried to energize her base through fear, which isn’t a winning tactic with Democrats. Obama energized us with hope, which IS a winning tactic.

  2. Claire Ashgrove on November 9, 2016 at 12:58 pm said:

    You’re absolutely right it comes down to “people who do not represent me”. This is not an insult by any means — factually, your interests and concerns for the world you live in, do not match the interests and concerns for the world Dodge City lives in. And everyone wants “their world” to be the world for everyone. Which is why we have the electoral college, but that’s a different discussion entirely.

    I can’t say if it was “for Trump” or “Against Clinton.” I just told another friend I would have voted for the fungus on my tree before Clinton, so I am solidly in the “against Clinton” camp. I’ll come back to why. Every lawn I passed out here that had a sign didn’t have just the Trump sign in it. But the whole front edge with every Rep. candidate on the ballot. Every lawn. Not kidding. And that says to me that my county was adamantly opposed to “What is in place now.” Kandor and Carnahan were poised to have tight races based on everything lead up to. The R. hold on the Senate was a suprirse at the National level. And that says to me… this isn’t about candidates. It’s about policy changes. Or Policy focus. And what I believe, based on input from my locale, is nobody wanted more of Obama. Nobody wanted more progressive movements. They were… circling the wagons, so to speak, which is a defensive move.

    And that’s where I was “Anyone but Clinton”. We’ve talked before. I hate the ACA. The state of our Veterans affairs is more important than bathrooms imho. (And yes, I’m trivializing.) I am isolationist in foreign policy — have been even when I was a solid Dem otherwise. I love the influence of culture in our lives, but I want laws followed. I don’t believe anyone is going to fiddle with then 2nd Amendment nor do I believe anyone is going to fiddle with abortion rights. So for me it was issues…. compounded by the fact I think she is so deeply rooted in corruption that I was easily able to sign on board for someone who is not embedded in the system. That too I think is a source of many many votes that weren’t predicted. The Establishment. It’s broken. And people are all-too-sick of it to not leap at “well, we haven’t tried this yet”.

    • I’m going to have to run to a doctor’s appointment soon so I can’t fully address what you said, but I am curious about one thing: Would you have voted for Bernie Sanders?

      I’ve been angry with the Democrats since the primaries because they did rig the system. I’m blind but not stupid. 🙂 They had the media in their pocket and the media handed it to Clinton, who I spent months arguing against with people until I was hoarse, saying “She doesn’t win in mock up polls except against Trump, and even then it’s tight!” Bernie, on the other hand, did well.

      BUT Bernie is more radical than Clinton. He’s also anti-establishment, despite being a senator for many decades (an independent and outspoken one, which is the point).

      Anyway, it’s clear to me that poll numbers are crap so maybe that didn’t mean anything either, but it’s all the information I have, which begs the question: Would you have been as opposed to Sanders as Clinton?

  3. Claire Ashgrove on November 9, 2016 at 5:08 pm said:

    No, I wouldn’t have voted for Sanders either — that’s way too leaning toward socialism in my opinion. But I would not find him despicable. Sorry for the strong language. John Kasich was my ideal choice. The plans he laid forth were tested and proven in Ohio — for the things I was personally concerned about. He has experience at the National level to offer qualifications. And while he’s more “career politician” than I care for generally, he would have been respectable, appropriate, and I also think he would have been more globally accepted by the opposition. He’s far more…tasteful.

    looking forward to your responses!

    • To tell you the truth, I’m not sure I have anything else clever or insightful to say about your latest post. I have thoughts, but mostly they come down to “I really disagree with you on economic policy” which isn’t the point here. Heck, I’m a socialist. I have been even before Sanders made it okay to say out loud. And when it comes down to it, my biggest problem with Clinton is that she’s not progressive enough.

      Which makes it really hard to see these concerns you put forth and try to figure out where the liberal movement in this country goes from here. For certain, the name-calling and talking down needs to stop. We were all so caught up in our own echo chambers of Trump hatred that we failed to notice almost exactly half of this country was in their own echo chamber of Clinton hatred. And while I know there are those who will (rightly) point out that she won the popular vote, I’m not as upset by that as I thought I would be. Last count it was 150k votes different. That’s not exactly a popular vote mandate. There’s really only a razor-thin high ground there.

      But here IS the moral high ground: This country is split almost exactly in half, yet the way the votes fell one half has no voice for at least two years. Forget the electoral college, we need a third party. Without a stable, electable third party that the other two can form coalitions with, one side will forever be walking over the other in an effort to push through their agendas while they have the chance – without regard to the other side.

      Anyway, if I’m arguing third party politics it’s time for me to go get some ice cream and binge watch Netflix. Trying the new show “Crown” tonight. 🙂

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