Or maybe these are the worst lessons being learned at the worst times.
There’s a lot to learn from presidential elections and usually what we learn has more to do with civics lessons than anything else. Not so in this presidential campaign.
More than once these past two months I’ve said that I can never un-see some of the things that have come into clear focus in this presidential election. My world view and also some very personal views have changed significantly. It’s distressing, maybe because I liked my illusions more than I realized. Maybe even depended on them. But my opinions of certain things and people have radically shifted during this presidential campaign and I don’t think I can ever go back.
Because those illusions were more expensive than I thought.
So here’s some of what I have learned recently.
People I knew to be racist homophobes in the past are still racist homophobes.
You can’t live in the South without encountering these kind of people and I have had closer relationships with some than I would like to admit. It’s true that back in that day, the attitudes were camouflaged at first, and when I saw them I exited as fast as I could. Still, I am shocked that these attitudes still exist in the 21st century among people I know. When people tell you who they are, believe them the first time.
There’s more misogyny out there than I imagined.
I can tell that many misogynists don’t recognize it in themselves. They can’t articulate logical reasons why they hate that woman, even if they truly BELIEVE those reasons are logical, but they do hate her and with a passion that goes beyond politics. Now let’s get real: every politician lies because the electorate does not want the truth. That’s the way our political system works. Sad, but true. Someone like Trump, a man, gets a pass for egregious lies, but for some reason it’s different for her. Independent fact checkers found her statements to be true 71 percent of the time and his to be true only 14 percent of the time. And yet, she’s not believable? Get real.
Having worked for my share of misogynists and seen them up close and personal in multiple jobs, it makes me queasy. I am 65 and it shocks and disappoints me that misogyny still exists to the extent it does. And here is a shocker: I’ve noticed that some women are misogynists. Go figure.
I could never be married to someone who wasn’t aligned with my political, social and ethical beliefs.
I am grateful every day for my husband, who did very well in a capitalist economy but never lost his heart for others less fortunate. He’s not a racist, homophobe or misogynist. He’s not nasty. He’s practical, successful, super-smart and astute and is still not conservative. We discuss the issues often and every time we do, I celebrate him.
Some people I thought were smarter than that, aren’t.
This one has been really hard because I care about some of these people. And now, I can’t look at them the same way I did before I saw inside their heads. Now, I can only feel sorry for them. There ARE some people I knew weren’t smarter than that, so nothing unexpected there. It’s the ones I thought knew how to think critically —and it is apparent they can’t–that I’m disappointed about. And sad.
And, for some of the few times in my life, I’ve actually been mansplained and once by a guy who was clearly nowhere near as knowledgeable as I. It made me laugh but it also infuriated me.
A person can clothe their views in disingenuousness only so long; after that, they sound like they aren’t so smart.
This has been a campaign in which it’s difficult to pretend you don’t know a view is either pro or con. It’s hard to pretend that there’s no point of view in what’s posted, whether it’s a news article or something else. That, “What, me? upset someone? I had no idea!” no longer works. Here’s a news flash: No one believed you. And some are going to look at you differently ever after.
The electorate simply can not think critically. The media are mostly to blame. But not entirely.
What’s scary about this is that the people making up the electorate are responsible for choosing the people who run our country. It’s been hard for me to believe that so many folks are driven by fears (founded or unfounded) and crackpot theories. The media are complicit in making sure that no one gets facts. Everyone gets spin. Unless they look really hard and consult source documents, which the vast majority of voters are not going to do. This is one of the major flaws of democracy, not to mention a HUGE flaw in 21st century “journalism” and now, it’s bounced back on us.
Those people who refused to vote for either candidate are basically handing Trump their vote. Let us not forget that the margin was so thin in Gore vs. Bush that the Nader voters played a key role in handing the election to Bush. I hope this week’s third party voters enjoy the view from their high horse. Actually, I hope they don’t. I hope Trump doesn’t win, but if he does, well, I won’t say what I think.
People can be mean, vicious, nasty–and armed– and think it’s perfectly ok.
These inflamed emotions are perhaps the most dangerous thing of all. Many of the people who can’t think critically, who hate women or blacks or gays are armed, and not for hunting. Their idea of self defense is to possess an entire arsenal. This election has brought these people out of the shadows. It’s hard to recognize America when they violently accost Hillary voters, talk about revolution, impeachment and getting their “muskets.” I mean, seriously? Unfortunately, yes. Seriously.
I blame the Republican Party. By letting this evil and stupid man be their candidate, they legitimized some of the most hateful behavior I’ve seen in my life time. His supporters now feel it is perfectly ok to violently accost those who disagree. Whose America is this? Republican Party, you really messed up this time. Maybe it’s time for you to go.
You are what you consume.
When my social media feed was covered with hateful, not-very-smart rhetoric and news channels always hyping the latest bad news, my mood was dark. Said my husband: “In all the time I’ve known you, I have never seen you as upset as you are now.” He’s known me since 1969.
But my mood greatly improved once I stopped consuming any news, unfollowed and blocked all Trump supporters –and a friend added me to Pantsuit Nation, a positive, uplifting Facebook group of more than a million Hillary supporters. My feed was filled with beautiful stories of centenarians born when women did not even have the vote who were proud to vote for Hillary, some passing away shortly after casting early ballots for HRC. Men saying in no uncertain terms “I’m with her!” Every post I saw represented the beautiful, inclusive world I want to live in. I basked in it.
Those simple acts — that changed the information I consumed — changed my mood.
And here we are.
So that’s what I’ve learned. My illusions have been battered and I wasn’t sure there was enough time in this lifetime for them to be rebuilt. Until Pantsuit Nation. I have hope that the beautiful souls whose stories I have read in that group can overpower the nasty, negatives that have emerged in our culture. Women are being empowered in ways I haven’t seen in many decades,men are rising to the occasion and I have hope that we can overpower the nasty negatives that have come out from under Trump’s rock. Because now that they are out, HRC will have a hard presidency.
It’s horrifying to be in my senior years and have this situation in our country. But that’s where we sit on Election Day 2016.
A proud and hopeful member of Pantsuit Nation, I’m with her, and my fingers are crossed for this presidential campaign.