(Edit: Before you read this post, I encourage you to read this comment for context. As I’ve written before years ago, I feel that I live in a Bubble, and the election’s results only confirm that for me. So, I’m increasingly pushing myself to see worlds that are very different from mine. That means seeing some segments of the Trump electorate).
I’ve been visiting web sites and message boards that feature neo-Nazi, alt. right, and/or white nationalist content. Let me explain.
My Facebook and Twitter feeds are loaded with anti-Trump posts being shared by anti-Trump folks to other anti-Trump folks. There clearly is comfort in that. But, I think it means that many people are doing a great job of preaching to their own choirs. I am foremost at that. But, for me, I’m changing my strategy, for my own good.
I’m trying to listen to a different point of view. Before the election, a person on a FiveThirtyEight podcast encouraged listeners to be willing to learn about The Other Side’s views. But, I also want to do something to lower all the negative energy I’m feeling around me and within me.
So, I started by reading about the far, far, far right. I intentionally am trying to hear something that I find off the reservation and not react emotionally. I’m trying to figure out a few things. What do they believe and why? What’s their strategy? It’s not easy, but I am trying to hear their point of view. I don’t agree with them, but I found it valuable.
I also read JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy book. Vance grew up in Greater Appalachia and does a great job of articulating what a segment of the white working class population has experienced. He grew up in a very unstable environment, rampant with alcoholism, drug abuse, and violence.
Vance also mentions the culture that exists, a deep-rooted suspicion of others who don’t look like them, a de-emphasis on education, and a belief that the system is rigged against them. Vance does a detailed and scathing criticism of some of his neighbors, who resent that welfare goes to the urban poor, but who themselves have never had a full time job and also get benefits.
Also, relevant: it’s a culture that places prime importance on respect. I think it is true that making fun of “hillbillies” on TV or in the movies is still politically correct. And, Vance’s region seethes when coastal elites look down at them.
So, I’m trying to challenge myself. By viewing “the other side” as actual human beings, I am less angry at them. And, that’s beneficial for me.
I’m a registered Independent. I found both presidential candidates difficult but for different reasons. But, I’ve found the Trump victory to be surprising and disappointing at many levels.
We really do live in two Americas. The social science data and voting patterns absolutely confirm that. I think it’s important to try and understand the other America to truly be one nation.
I think empathy is the key to try to get to some common ground.
Last, on a lighter note, click here or look below for a funny SNL skit that features Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle.