Saturday, January 21, 2017

How some people are affected by Trump being elected President

From a response to someone on Facebook a couple of months ago, when a friend of mine suggested that the losing side get over their sour grapes and move on.

For them, it isn't sour grapes. It isn't that a particular candidate didn't win. It's that this specific one did, and what it means in context for them and their relationship to their community and country.

From their perspective, 25% of the electorate -- their friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers -- just used their vote to affirm that all of the things that he said he was for, and all of the things that he carefully didn't say that he was against -- all of it, not just selective parts of it, but the entire package -- are what they want in a leader. Further, they are afraid that what he himself said that he would do -- and from their perspective, these things were very different from most political bluster -- are things that he will actually do. Things targeting them because of something intrinsic to who they are.

They are also afraid of potential behavior that such an endorsement legitimizes. Civilization is a thinner layer than some people realize, and when people with varying levels of self-control and judgment also have a deep-seated fear of people different from themselves, it can only take a small nudge of tacit permission to pull that layer away. What others fear is that this vote will do that. And from some of the news coverage based on police reports, anecdotal stories that have surfaced in my own social feeds from people that I actually know, it appears that it has done so. I can tell you for sure, as a white male, that I have been in a room full of nothing but white males a couple of times in the past two days, and they seem more free to say certain things than they were last week. And when a young person observes how people comport themselves in "non-mixed company", they see it as an example of what older people think is socially acceptable to do. And some of them have poor judgment, and extrapolate that into a license to do more than those older people would do, such as saying things directly to those other people, or worse.

This is in no way intended to de-legitimize the very real issues that the conservative side is grappling with. All I'm trying to say is that this seems pretty different from sour grapes to me. The feeling is different in kind from previous elections in a way that may be difficult to understand ... unless you really sit down for more than few seconds to try to imagine what it might feel like -- on a day-to-day, subtle, pervasive, constant level -- to look around at the uptick in hatred, and feel as though your fellow citizens have despised you all along, and that it's soon going to be institutionalized as law. After being told all your life that that's not what America is about.

As far as I can tell, that's how they're feeling.

And even though I'm a straight white male ... that's how I'm feeling, too.