It’s been a week since the election of Donald J. Trump caused all of us to let out the breath we’d been holding for 18 months. Whether you expelled that air with a cheer of victory or a scream of primal terror depends on what side of the fence you’re on.
Even a week after the election, my Facebook feed has not ceased to be a minefield of triumphal Trump supporters, bitter Never-Trumpers, and accusatory liberals. Violent protests and increased rates of hate-crimes—along with assertions that one is real and the other is not—show no signs of letting up.
In my last piece, I compared both sides to bickering factions of students and assigned Hillary supporters some “homework” to help them get along better with others.
Trump supporters aren’t off the hook though, and I have a few assignments for them as well:
Don’t gloat. In 2008, Democrats seemed sure that the election of Barack Obama meant the end of the Republican Party. Rolling Stone even ran a cover with a caricature of George W. Bush firing pistols in the air while sitting astride a dead elephant. This belief was not unjustified. Dubya exited office with an approval rating on par with Nickleback’s, and the GOP was in a demographic death spiral while the Democratic coalition of Millennials, minorities, and college graduates was growing daily.
No more of you gun-toting backwoods fundamentalists dragging the country down the wrong path. Now you would learn what was good for you under the benevolent rule of the intellectually and morally superior left.
Remember how that felt?
Clearly you do, because five years later it made you angry enough to turn out in unprecedented numbers to elect a race-baiting carrot as our 45th president.
Good. You’ve won. You’ve made your point. Now don’t gloat.
Stop sharing videos of Hillary supporters crying with the captions like “music to my ears” or “poor, triggered SJWs.”
This may be the one time that I’ll encourage Trump supporters to emulate their god-emperor, because since the election, Trump has shown remarkable restraint, from his victory speech to his cordial meeting with President Obama.
You hated being mocked and stereotyped, and I promise you that Hillary’s supporters aren’t happy when you do it to them. Not everyone who voted for Hillary is a shrill pink-haired feminist, an unthinking African-American thrall, or an ivory tower socialist.
Don’t expect everyone to agree with you. I get it. You were tired of being marginalized, or maybe you chose the lesser of two evils. I have yet to meet a Trump supporter (outside of a Jordan Klepper segment) who fully endorses every one of the president-elect’s policies.
Most of you either voted against Hillary or voted for change. And not the Obama kind of change, which comes with a positive message and a clearly defined plan. No, this brand of change is reactionary and vague.
Trump is what you’d get if the YouTube comments section acquired sentience and decided to try its hand at politics. He is loud, insulting, erratic, and childish. He was the troll candidate and you voted for him specifically to troll all those condescending liberal elites who thought they knew what was best for you.
What’s done is done, and I won’t debate how responsible it was for you to try to clear the jungle by starting a fire and walking away. I do, however, expect you to acknowledge that that’s exactly what you did and to understand why Hillary voters aren’t happy about it.
From their point of view, all of you are either racists or didn’t see racism as a deal-breaker. Many of them—including Mexican immigrants and Muslim Americans—see Trump as an existential threat to their place in this country, and with good reason. They’ve shed tears this week not because they’re a bunch of entitled liberals who didn’t get their way, but because they’re afraid of a loved one being deported or forced to register with the government.
Blithely telling anti-Trump protestors that it’s time to “get on board” ignores their very valid feeling that there’s no berth for them on the Trump Train. Yes, he is #TheirPresident, but you need to respect their right to drag their heels every step of the way for the next four to eight years, just like Republicans did with Obama.
Don’t call people names. This one should be pretty easy. Trump is already doing a great job of this. Responding to a “60 Minutes” correspondent who asked him about reports of his supporters harassing Mexicans and Muslims, he said, “And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it — if it helps, I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: ‘Stop it.’”
Yes. Stop it.
On the campaign trail in 2008, John McCain went out of his way to debunk conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s faith and national origin. In 2016, Donald Trump intentionally fanned the flames of birtherism and alt-right white nationalism. Maybe that’s why McCain lost and Trump won, but it’s an ugly way to win an election.
During the campaign, one pundit observed that Trump was either a racist or was pretending to be one to appeal to voters, and either option was horrible. If it is the latter, then Trump can finally drop the act. The forces he’s unleashed are terrifying, but he’s at least making strides toward calming them. Some of the damage is done, and for every “Stop it” that gives me hope there’s a Steve Bannon appointment to give me pause, but if the spike in hate crimes against Muslims ends and David Duke crawls back into whatever slime-infested hole he was hiding in, I’ll be happy.
There is plenty Trump can do to heal the wounds he’s opened, but it’s ultimately up to you, Trump supporters.
You need to understand that many of your neighbors see your vote for Trump as an act of violence directed personally at them, and you need to show them that you don’t hate them.