Okay. So that happened. Trump is President-Elect. The nausea and sadness and anxiety have abated enough to think rationally. Here are some of those rational thoughts... even if they're a bit disjointed.
"Stay and fight" or GTFO?
Nomads are talking about staying abroad until Trump is out. Wannabe nomads have a final reason to pack up and leave, come January. Okay look. I'm in so many minds about this.
On the one hand, traveling more often sounds great right now. I get it. I remember living in London and feeling closer to Brexit than to the insane nastiness happening in my home state's politics. How refreshing it would be to care more about, I dunno, Sweden's politics, than Trump.
But then again... it's been nice to feel proud to be an American abroad. To speak about the Obamas with a grin, feel good about my country. The world hates Donald Trump. Europe is laughing at us, and behind their laughter, they're grossed out by the smarminess. Wherever I go, I'll now be apologizing for the antics of my peers. My pride will vanish every time I'm mocked for representing things I despise, just because of my accent. I don't want to apologize. I want to be proud.
And, life in America is about to get a whole lot harder for a whole lot of people.
Not for me, perhaps. I'm respected and successful in my career. Our CEO, my boss, is as feminist as they come. I don't have to worry about 77 cents to the dollar or my voice being heard at Tortuga, no matter who is president.
Societally, too. Jeff and I are a white, heterosexual, cisgender, affluent couple. If anything, our taxes may go down during Trump's administration. Neither of us will lose our health insurance. My IUD may no longer be covered, but I can afford it out-of-pocket without feeling the financial sting. If that IUD fails, I can afford to fly to Canada and pay for an abortion. We aren't planning to have kids, so we won't fear for their future and climate change therefore impacts our family less. So, my day-to-day life probably won't change much.
But others' will. And that matters to me.
So stay and fight? Stay in NYC and, what... talk to fellow liberals? In the echo chamber? Because goodness knows I'm not moving to Ohio or Iowa or Michigan or any other Midwestern swing state.
I'm not saying I have no voice and that I can be of no help in NYC. Of course I can. But then again....
The urban & rural divide contributed to this
Trump's win is sobering to city people like me. I've been in the urban, liberal bubble my entire life. I've never lived in a rural place, and likely never will.
And, here's an honesty moment: city people, myself included, think our way of life is superior. We hardly hide it.
We are more educated, so we think our opinions count for more. We go to fancy schools and eat artisan foods we can't pronounce and travel to exotic places and truly believe it makes us better quality people. We scoff at those who vacation in their home state (the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page) and eat processed food. We dislike religion and question tradition. We're snobs, and we aren't shy about it.
The snobbery comes to head in micromoments, not just elections. My mom belongs to the other side, and my mom thinks I'm aloof. We got in a big fight about it over the summer. I am kind of aloof, I guess. We all are, as city people, where social conservatism is concerned. My mother thinks it's a sign of selfishness and something to be ashamed of.
Here's the part that I don't love admitting: 90% of the time, I'm okay with being aloof. I don't mind being seen as a snob. I'd rather feel superior and act dismissive than validate an alt-right argument with a response, because I don't think that argument deserves a response. I don't love admitting my aloofness, but I'm not exactly ashamed, either. My feelings of superiority are rooted in deep morals, as strange as that may sound to someone who disagrees. Like my mother.
Which brings me to another holier-than-thou aspect. Rural conservatives look at us cheering at pride parades and tweeting #BlackLivesMatter and calling out slut shamers and think we have no ethical standards.
They couldn't be more wrong. Ethics and morals are dear to us. We fight for them - HARD. In fact, we think our morals more correct than those of the rural Christian right.
That last part is important.
We think we're more correct, so we dismiss and we ridicule instead of engaging in a constructive way.
I don't engage in a constructive way. Us liberals don't, as a whole. (Yeah, conservatives don't either, but they aren't the ones signing up for therapy because their candidate lost. Like me. I'm doing that.)
We believe that our ethics are indisputable facts and that challengers do not deserve to be acknowledged. We believe that positions against gay marriage or the right to choose or women's equality are sins against humanity committed by heartless, selfish, vitriolic animals.
Of course I still believe I'm more correct, that my morals are better than those of a conservative Southern Baptist, but...
Trump's win shows that we have to stop dismissing the other side.
Dismissiveness hinders our agenda. If we want progress, we have to stop treating the other argument as animalistic.
I don't know how. My heart breaks for the marginalized when the alt-right starts to speak and when moderate conservatives make excuses for their words. I don't want to acknowledge a racist point of view. I can't quell the fury when someone argues against feminism, when someone calls a sexually liberated woman a slut, when internet trolls rally around "grab them by the pussy" and force badass women to defend their basic humanity.
But... there's more to the story than our moral outrage.
Cracked has covered this really well. Go read the below article. Please. It's very good.
Equal parts sobering and fascinating, right?
There's also this:
Yes. They should be. And probably a lot of them won't. Just like a lot of liberals won't deign to listen to someone who makes fun of feminists. But we won't get this started playing a game of "I'm not listening" chicken.
The best way to be heard is to listen first, right?
I mean, I'm really asking at this point. Because I'm so upset that racist and misogynistic vernacular are 'okay' enough to be used by a President.
How can we be heard? How can we change what is seen as okay to really absolutely not okay? How can I explain to my mother that her vote for Trump tells me that she thinks my sexual assault is invalid because the dude always wins, that my voice as a woman matters less than any man's, that when I married a Muslim her peers think I consorted with the enemy? That none of that is okay? That the extent of the SONOTOKAY means that I can't bring myself to talk to her, can't look her in the face right now, because her vote feels like a deep and painful betrayal? Because her morals are so contradictory to my own?
Which brings me to some thoughts I have about religious teachings. Specifically rural Christian schools of thought.
Mommy issues and religion - we're getting real-real here, huh.
Religious teachings about right & wrong need better explanations than "because god said so."
Hey so here's a problem I don't know how to fix.
Take Joe. He's from rural Trump country. All his life, he's been taught that all of the below are seen as equally terrible sins:
- Sexual assault
They're all sins. God said so. Joe knows that atheists make god cry. So do adulterers. This is not a matter of opinion; to Joe, it's indisputable fact.
And on the other side you have Alan, married to Mike. Alan is a liberal, homosexual, polyamorous atheist. Not exactly unheard of in a place like Manhattan. To liberals, "homosexual, polyamorous atheist" are just descriptors. They're things that fall under our umbrella of "freedom" and that we will fight like hell to protect.
In Joe's mind, Alan has committed three indisputable moral transgressions and society celebrates him for it.
So, Joe wonders, why does society condemn sexual assault? Isn't it the same?
Of course it isn't the fucking same you horrible moron, we think. But saying it out loud doesn't change Joe's mind. It only confirms his idea that we're sinners.
So how do we educate? How do we shape the conversation? How do we show that sexual assault is wrong because it harms another human without consent and polyamory isn't because it's a choice between consenting adults?
I don't have a source to link to here, other than my own experience. I truthfully don't have much optimism, either. I'm so frustrated with religion and with teachings that harm individuals and pollute society. I don't know what to do. But it's a problem, and dismissing Joe et al doesn't solve it.
That's all I got for now.
Taylor Coil is a marketing manager who works remotely from around the world.