Friday, November 11, 2016

Five Questions for a Trump Voter

In the days following the historic 2016 American presidential election, I have felt a wide spectrum of emotions, primarily fear, sadness, and anger. Fear for my safety and my friends' safety in the face of racists and misogynists, sadness that we as a nation have failed to elect the most qualified candidate, and anger that there is nothing I can do to change the outcome. I've spent most of my time in a daze, sleeping early, waking up late. Times when I am on campus, I see incredible solidarity, but I can't help but feel as if it does nothing to change the national narrative. Messages on Facebook of the acceptance of the results and reassurance that nothing will really change fail to convince me that things won't be as bad I fear they will be. After all, if Trump can win the presidency, anything is possible.

As I rationalize how to move forward, I find myself forced to reconsider all of my plans for the next few years. Ever since high school, I have intended to dedicate myself to public service, with the goal of working for the federal government's Department of Education sometime in the near future. I was horrified to find out that Ben Carson is potentially the next Secretary of Education, and that Trump intends to put a hiring freeze on all new federal employees. My aspirations for work in the public sector at the federal level, much less the Department of Ed, have evaporated.

Despite my anguish for my future and the future of America, I've never been one to let myself feel grief for very long. There were a few hours of shock, disbelief, and then the logical side of my brain snaps into control again. There is work to be done, and not a second to lose. To defeat the opposition first requires understanding the opposition. I'd like to talk to a Trump voter and ask them this:
  1. Why did you vote for Trump? Fire away with your economic justifications and whatever other reasons there are. I won't argue with them yet. I just want to know what they are.
  2. Are you racist/sexist/homophobic? Yes or no?
  3. Do you believe Trump is racist/sexist/homophobic? Yes or no?
  4. Are you aware that there are a significant number of Trump supporters who are racist/sexist/homophobic? Yes or no?
  5. Do you see the danger in how a Trump America emboldens racist/sexist/homophobic people to express their beliefs through violence upon marginalized groups?
Any justification from the first question cannot possibly take precedence over the lives of people who will now suffer at the hands of bigots. Every single vote, whether you are in California or Florida, contributes to the legitimization of racist, sexist, homophobic views, and supports those people's desire to translate those beliefs into action. So congrats, I suppose, that your side won. But Election Day is not the end of the consequences of your decision. ◊

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