In the past few days, I’ve seen several of my left-leaning friends struggling to figure out what this election means. They believe they’ve been cut off from — or ignoring, or slighting — the interests of Trump voters and are reaching out to them on Facebook, asking why they voted for a candidate they saw as loathsome at best.
I think this is a worthy idea. Listening is always a worthy idea. But I’m wondering if it’s really going to change anything.
For one thing — with the possible exception of the GOP’s “autopsy report,” which didn’t make a whit of difference given Trump’s style of campaigning — I don’t recall seeing the same kind of dialogue after Obama’s two elections. Maybe conservatives didn’t believe they had to reach out; after all, the news media tends to be clustered in cosmopolitan, left-leaning cities, so they already knew what Obama’s voters stood for. From gay marriage to #BlackLivesMatter to artisan kale — which progressives saw as social equality, but I imagine deep-red voters saw as identity politics — it was in their feed every day.
(See? I’m doing it, too, writing with an elitist sneer. Even after reading many pieces on why rural/exurban mostly white voters feel disenfranchised, I still wonder how they could vote Trump. The best explanation remains Peter Thiel’s: The media took Trump literally, not seriously. Trump voters took him seriously, not literally.)
Now that the vote has gone the other way, Trump voters have made their voices heard. It’s not necessarily one voice, just as Clinton voters aren’t one voice. But even after seeing responses — “wanted a change,” “didn’t like being called (fill-in-the-blank)-phobic,” “couldn’t vote for Hillary if she were the last candidate on earth” — will it matter?
It will to the country, with new GOP policies being put into place. But on an individual level I don’t think either side is going to change the other’s mind.
Once upon a time — when we had three TV broadcast networks, when we had two major newsmagazines, when both parties had to seek consensus — there was a center. But now we live in tribes in which we don’t even agree on facts. (I’ve been seeing posts saying Trump won the popular vote along with the electoral college. This may very well be true eventually, but currently a Google check has Hillary up by about 650,000 votes. But do you really believe that? Google is based in lefty California!) It may be that we now live in two countries, and we won’t be one until threatened by an outside force.
So keep listening. I hope it helps. But is either side really hearing?
Do you agree?