What happened last night was due to a lack of empathy. On both sides.
We high and mighty liberals decried Trump and his supporters because it was easy. It’s easy to decry racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and misogyny. And it feels good. Because we know we’re right. And we let each other know that we were right. And we all enjoyed being so so so right. But it’s a low-energy response. It’s the same function as decrying immigrants, Muslims, or minorities. It’s easy, and it feels good. What we failed to do was to listen, and to empathize. Trump supporters tried to tell us it wasn’t about the racism, the sexual assaults, and the basic indecency. They tried to tell us that they were willing to look past all of that. And instead of asking why, we attacked them. We refused to listen. Because listening is hard.
Republicans were no better. We tried incessantly to shove facts down their throats, and they refused to listen. We tried to tell them that our friends and loved ones were scared, and they refused to listen. When anyone challenged Trump’s business dealings, his behavior toward women, or his false views of the world, they brushed it off. They fabricated lies to tell themselves that Hillary was ‘just as bad.’ They spread misinformation at a rate that fact checkers couldn’t even keep up with, not that it would have mattered. They made it very clear that they didn’t care about facts, no matter how many we came up with. And that they didn’t care about the fears of people who didn’t look, pray, or love like them, no matter how many they claimed were their friends.
What happened this election season was a populist uprising. As much as I hate to admit it, Bernie Sanders’ movement was linked with Trump’s. Both were giving working-class people something to fight for, and something to fight against. The cry from the people was that the establishment was not working. And neither party listened to that cry. Trump forced his way through a crowd of adversity from the Republican party and landed in the driver’s seat. And the Democrats outrightly and corruptly rejected their own populist candidate for one that represented the very thing the uprising was against.
This is not to place blame on any party, any candidate, or any voter. We are all to blame. Because we refused to listen. Because being right was so much more satisfying. Now we’re left with a choice. To keep blocking people, unfriending people, pushing people away. To refuse to listen to facts and opinions we don’t like. Or to embrace our enemies, love them, and for god’s sake listen.