I’m somehow both drunk and hungover. Exhausted and in a state of utter disbelief.
What just happened?
We witnessed a very public outcome of people losing faith in institutions. A man has just been elected to the most powerful position on Earth who has never been engaged in politics before and continually littered his campaign run with statements we previously thought unrecoverable for a candidate. The polls were wrong. The pundits were wrong. The markets were wrong (and they’re REALLY not supposed to be wrong). Every traditional predictive measure failed. We are waking up, quite literally, in a different world today. We’ve experienced the allure of social media driven echo chambers which have seen a demagogue’s power base send him to the White House and seen a section of the public in a state of total denial about what was happening around them.
We grow up. Collectively. We need to actively reach out to people we disagree with and find out what is motivating them. We need to be open to learning new information and having our minds changed about certain issues. We need to acknowledge the fact that there may be valid reasons for people taking an action we disagree with. This attitude will empower you to engage in meaningful dialogue and possibly remove fear or prejudice in the other person’s mind. Nobody is asking you to sacrifice your principles. Do not do that. Hold them near. But stop immediately writing off anyone who disagrees with you as being a moron or a bigot. That is how the left lost this election and if this trend of political polarisation continues, we are all going to become even more vulnerable to even more horrible characters from here on in.
What just happened?
A very freaky man became President of America and to be honest I am too ill-informed to speculate as to what exactly it means – suffice it to say it was not good for morale in the room I was in. Nor was it good for morale in the social echo chambers I haunt online. Trump has said a lot of terrible things and is fundamentally disagreeable on every social level I can think of. He has not laid out any sort of platform which makes coherent sense but enough of America is so upset at how things are right now that none of that mattered. An America I have never been to and do not know is upset and that is how they have voted. The pockets of America I keep up with online are upset that the upset people voted for Donald Trump and now he is president. Donald Trump is about to disappoint a lot of people for four years. It is going to be be a very weird, slow train wreck and because of his hypnotic cadence it is going to be very hard to look away.
I am lucky enough to have a Netflix subscription and a room to watch Netflix in so I that is what I am doing. Not everyone is so fortunate. I really don’t know. Trump being president doesn’t stop basic human decency. We have to be kinder and more supportive of one another now more than ever. We also have to continue listening to people who have different points of view from us and who we don’t agree with. A refusal to do that is part of why things like this continue to happen. Listening is how we make things better; it’s no good putting on blinders and shouting everyone down. Also, if you can afford a Netflix subscription I can highly recommend that.
Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt are the hosts of The Worst Idea of All Time podcast.
More responses to the U.S. election:
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.