The state of our union
Have you ever seen the Grand Canyon? I’ve seen pictures, like the incredible one above or those typical living on the edge selfies people post on Instagram. But I’ve never seen it in person, so I find it a bit underwhelming and don’t appreciate its full beauty. I can’t, without experiencing the full view rather than just a snapshot.
On November 8, 2016, I — along with plenty of other Americans, I can assume — learned that we live in a vastly different country than we thought we did.
Sure, a lot of us probably have racist uncles who feel “threatened” because your aunt lowkey wants to fuck Obama, or random Facebook friends from high school who seem to love guns and hate homosexuals. These red flags (and hats) aside, there weren’t many people who accurately predicted the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In fact, many “experts” forecasted a fairly definitive win for Hillary Clinton.
Spoiler alert: That didn’t happen.
But I’m not writing to complain about my candidate losing. My candidate lost back in July. (And I voted for Hillary in New Jersey in the general election because I want to be part of the solution. And side note: Perhaps if Bernie Sanders had been the Democratic nominee, we — we as in all people, not just white males—would be looking at a brighter future come January 20, 2017.) I’m also not writing to complain about the inaccuracy of polls. I understand statistics can mislead people, and anything can happen come Election Day.
For half of the country to be this out of touch with our fellow citizens, though? That is what truly surprises, disappoints, devastates, and confuses me.
My brother Jared posted on Facebook (something I’d really advise less people to do):
I understand voting for Trump because you like the excitement. He was an entertaining candidate and unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Everyone has different views on the economy, and trade, and foreign policy, and immigration. Okay. I get that. I don’t agree, but I understand we have differences. But I just don’t understand voting for someone who surrounds himself with people who think gay people can be shocked straight, or that gay marriage should be a crime, or climate change isn’t real, or a rape victim should be forced into motherhood, or that women shouldn’t have access to helpful organizations like Planned Parenthood, or that building a wall along the Mexican border is actually a productive use of time and money. Yes the campaign was exciting, but either Trump supporters were uninformed about these issues or chose to disregard them. And I honestly can’t tell which is worse.
This idea that many of the president-elect’s supporters were either unaware of what his victory would mean for the country as a whole, or completely okay with everything Jared mentioned above… It’s heartbreaking, because I can’t figure out which would be worse.
And that’s what confuses me. I try to see the best in people — I’m far from an optimist, sure, but I believe most people are inherently decent. Even though I may not agree with some people’s political views, favorite NFL teams, opinions about the TV show Lost, or overall lifestyle choices, I can still treat them with respect and civility.
I want to believe that many Trump supporters are decent. I know a bunch whom I admire — several of my extended family members and friends’ parents included. I want to believe that, to some people, making America “great again” doesn’t mean reverting our nation back to the 1950s. I want to believe that the publicized hatred and intolerance toward African Americans, Muslims, the LGBT community, women, and basically anyone who is different doesn’t reflect “the silent majority.”
But right now, I can’t believe that. I can’t believe that because I haven’t seen it for myself.
Supposedly, over time, the Colorado River continues to erode the Grand Canyon, causing the rift to deepen and widen. That’s a science problem. The chasm the U.S. is experiencing at the moment is a communication problem.
As the self-appointed spearhead of the solution movement, I want to bridge this gap before it becomes irreparable. Let’s talk to people with opposing viewpoints in an open-minded, understanding way. Let’s find out what’s bothering them so we can brainstorm ways to fix it together. Let’s not assume that someone is a bigot just because he or she voted a certain way (but if he/she does turn out to be a bigot, then fuck him/her).
And most of all, let’s travel — it’s both refreshing and eye-opening when you leave your bubble every once in a while. I bet you’ll learn something new, and maybe you’ll see something you missed at a glance — perhaps something a lot of us have missed.