If Trump wins the election, we deserve Trump.
Posting about Trump on social media — as I frequently do — is so deeply pointless. The people who will vote Trump? I don’t understand them. On such a deep level, I don’t understand how voting for someone I perceive as little more than a megalomaniac playground bully is a thing someone can even consider.
But the real problem with not understanding is that it’s hard to muster empathy with someone you don’t understand. I never spoke with anyone who voted for Brexit about why. I don’t think I know any Trump supporters. I’m hyper aware that the ‘us and them’ mentality that’s sparking up around this election is dividing people even further, at a time when we need to help, understand and tolerate more than ever before.
Nobody does anything that doesn’t make sense to them. People who will vote for Trump in November (and who voted for Brexit a few months ago) do so because from their point of view, with their life experiences and their knowledge, that’s a sensible thing to do. Given their context, situation, and background, voting for Trump makes perfect, 100% sense.
The only way to convince someone to vote the other way isn’t to show them why the rest of the world sees Trump as a scary, narcissistic person whose presidency will be a disaster for the country. Convincing someone to vote differently is to examine and change the underlying reasons why they would have voted Trump. The scary thing? November is very close, and you can’t change generations worth of mistreatment in weeks. You can’t change and educate years of xenophobia, feelings of disparity, and a deep-rooted skepticism of the establishment in days. You can’t invest a short span of time and expect to start a grassroots movement de-radicalizing the religious right into embracing (ironically…) compassion and a love for one’s fellow man.
If Trump is elected, this is on everyone. It’s on you. On me. On decades of a severely broken school system. On a lack of empathy for the plight of the have-nots from the haves. On an acceptance of hatred, bigotry, and a failure to challenge people who slide away from society as it stands.
November 2016 changes nothing.
If a Trump isn’t elected, the problem doesn’t go away. It gets pushed to the back of our minds for four years, until the next fringe politician whips us into a frenzy once again. We can’t let that happen.
When Trump loses, we need to spend the next four years — and beyond — investing in empathy. We need to get to know people who are so desperate that the only solution they see is to vote for Trump. Because honestly; as a society, we are better than that. We should be better than that. If we aren’t, well, here’s the truly horrifying thought: maybe we deserve Trump.