Statement To My Students Regarding The Election Of Donald Trump As POTUS
Recognizing that we have not had a traditional class discussion since the presidential election results came in Tuesday night, I did not want this week to end without sharing my critical rational thoughts and lingering philosophical questions from a humanistic psychological perspective. Remember, mine is but one perspective. There are others, and I encourage you to seek them out. This is what rational intellectual debate is about, and what institutions of higher education stand for. That said, I will take you through my own thought exercise related to this matter:
Q: In the broadest sense, I am a psychologist in the humanistic tradition. What does that tradition have to say about social justice?
Q: Trump’s campaign seemed to be fueled by anti-humanistic rhetoric. Why did so many people vote for him?
A1: The country is full of bigots.
A2: The country is full of bigots, and it’s likely more complicated. Secret Trump Voters
Conclusion 1: Think of the motivations fueling votes for Trump as existing on a large buffet table that includes: BIGOTRY, ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT SENTIMENT, HOPE FOR ECONOMIC PROSPERITY, CELEBRITY CULTURE, POSITIVE PERSONAL INTERACTIONS, DISDAIN FOR THE OTHER CANDIDATE, DISAFFECTED DEMOCRATS, etc. Like any buffet, you can choose one or more entrees, and even mix offerings together.
Q: Given the smorgasbord of motivations likely fueling votes for Trump, is it fair to suggest that all who voted for Trump are Hitler loving bigots?
Q: Thinking about humanistic psychologist Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, is it appropriate to generate equity-minded care for folks negatively impacted by the election of Trump?
A: Yes. The care for those members of society whose basic physiological and safety needs and higher order needs are threatened by a Trump presidency should look quantitatively and qualitatively different from care for those members of society whose higher order needs are threatened by being perceived as Hitler loving bigots.
Conclusion 2: The nature and scope of programming coming out of student support units on campus designed to support members of marginalized groups threatened and/or attacked by Trump and some of his supporters is completely appropriate and necessary.
Conclusion 3: Students should be encouraged by instructors, staff, and peers to think critically and complexly about the varied motivations behind support for candidate Trump, and avoid what I consider to be intellectually lazy and harmful pejorative name-calling. Remember, words have power.