After a long and contentious election season, which will incite frustration in anyone who takes politics seriously, it’s good to do some reflecting. At a time like this, when there are so many people who currently consider themselves winners or losers based on last week, we spend too much time looking outward for an explanation of what happened. But I took some time to think about my interactions with people over the past year, and I realize that I’ve spent too much time trying to be “right” and trying not to be “wrong.”
We all do this. You get excited about a certain piece of knowledge and you are so sure about it, virtually no amount of external effort can get you to change your mind. Anyone who works in a collaborative environment will tell you how damaging a one-track mind can be; if you aren’t looking outside for feedback, and you aren’t willing to take criticism, you can never improve business processes.
We don’t really apply this same concept to our personal lives. We like to get secure inside of a bubble of knowledge, a perspective if you will. Then we dig in our heels about our facts until any hope of productive conversation has died. I am asking that we all take a chance to let ourselves be wrong in the future. We are in a very ugly period of political discourse, and we’ve gotten here by taking sides and refusing to listen to each other.
Liberals have tried to paint this entire political struggle as a battle of ‘good vs evil’ or ‘tolerance vs intolerance’ or whatever else. The point is, that identity politics have simplified the idea of being “liberal” to the point that people don’t really understand tolerance anymore. By dismissing so many conservative voices with “oh this must be racist,” we have closed off the opportunity to learn from the struggles of middle America. You might think they are being manipulated, having their relative intolerance exploited by the Republican establishment, but they are people and deserve to be recognized, rather than tossed into a general ‘basket of deplorables.’
Conservatives have ignored extremely obvious indications that climate change is urgent, and globalization is unstoppable. They have been successful in maintaining a bitter fervor among their supporters, prompting these people to often vote against their own betterment, mainly because Hillary Clinton was an awful candidate. But they would not have been as successful at doing this, if liberals had made ourselves more open to hearing out this critical segment of the populace.
We can find fault all day, but what is the point, if all of us are at fault? I’m sure it makes you feel better to blame someone, but there is no correct place to point your anger but the establishment. If you are a Hillbot still railing against people who voted for 3rd parties, you are wasting everyone’s time- blame your candidate. If you voted for Trump, you will experience several instances in which he is going to betray his campaign promises: when these happen, remember to blame him, not Obama or whoever else.
Whether you think we screwed up or not, we did it. It’s done, and time for next steps. Let’s try learning from each other and learning from ourselves.