Let’s Listen to Trump Supporters
I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out
It’s been about a month since Inauguration, and about a month since I started the social journalism master’s program here at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. It feels like so much happened in these last four weeks, both in the world as well as for me.
In my community engagement class, we talk a lot about politics, especially about the events that happened since Trump started his presidency. While discussing all these protests, rallies, bans, and laws, I can’t help but think back to how we got to this point.
I’m reminded of how frustrated I felt when following the coverage of the election, and it makes me think about how we, as journalists, as well as human beings, can move forward now.
I’m a German living in the United States. When Donald Trump announced he would be running for president, and all you would ever see on TV anymore would be his face and his face only, I started to wonder about a lot of things concerning my chosen profession.
After a few months, I thought, “surely, nobody takes him seriously anymore,” or, “how is it that people are still talking about him?” However, when I watched him tweet his way closer and closer to the election, I was getting increasingly more frustrated.
I was living in Missouri at the time and the majority of my American friends either didn’t care, didn’t have the desire to vote, or just mimicked their parents in their political views.
“Nobody is worse than Hillary,” said a friend who’s parents always voted Republican, “she is the devil.” I just wondered how she came to this conclusion, because when I met her three years before anyone was even talking about the election, she never seemed to care about politics.
I asked her why she felt this way, and why a man who treated people around him with such disrespect wouldn’t also be considered “the devil.”
Her response sounded incredibly naive. “Well, the email thing Hillary did, that’s unforgivable. And the fact that she stayed with Bill after he cheated on her, she just did this because she wanted the presidency gig.”
As an aspiring journalist, I couldn’t understand how people were forming their opinions based on such little and terribly researched facts.
The more people I talked to about their feelings on the election, the more irritated I got. It felt like I was in a room full of people, and we were all watching a clown perform a sketch on stage, and nobody got the joke but me, and I was the only one laughing and waiting for everyone else to find it funny, too.
Growing up in Europe, I have always felt a lot more liberal than most of my friends in the States. I went to a private Christian high school in West Michigan for a year as an exchange student, and I got my degree from a private college in a little town in the middle of Missouri. I knew more full-fledged Republicans than Democrats, and while their political or religious views never mattered to me at all, I started seeing a difference once the election started.
When 45 got elected, I woke up to an email from my dad, and a text from my brother, who were both back in Germany, stunned about what just happened on the other side of the world. My brother asked me if I was okay, and my dad just said “Wow.” My heart felt broken, because that joke that I felt like I was laughing at for a year and a half, it was still very much a joke that nobody in my immediate circle seemed to get.
Then I got accepted into the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and I started seeing this new presidency as a challenge to contribute something to the world that would hopefully make a difference.
I thought back on how I experienced the election coverage, and how frustrated I was that all media outlets I turned to reported on Trump every single day. To me, it got to a point where I was so annoyed to turn on the news, or open up a newspaper. I was so sick of the repetitiveness of what was being published.
If all the media was reporting on was Trump, no matter if it was in support of him or if they criticised him, I get that one would’ve started to feel compelled to watch him more closely.
If all presidential candidates had received as much coverage as Trump did, I want to believe that things would have been different.
And I want to believe that people were not that upset about what is going on in this country at this very moment.
As a social journalist, I hope that I can use the techniques I learned in grad school to serve people with what they need. I want to write stories that matter to readers, and that will make it easy for them to learn about topics that they should care about.
Most importantly, I also hope that I can learn from these communties, whether I personally feel like I’m a part of them or not. I may not be a Trump supporter, but as a social journalist, I feel like it is my duty to understand and serve everyone, no matter who they are or what they believe in.