Making sense of this election

Photo by Jon Sailer on Unsplash

I’m glad Joe Biden was elected President. But it wasn’t a massive repudiation of Donald Trump. Not given the 70 million votes that Trump received.

In trying to make sense of this election and what is means going forward, it’s important to distinguish between Donald Trump and his supporters. It’s one thing to dismiss Trump the person but you can’t dismiss his large base of supporters so easily.

I haven’t hidden my disdain for Trump the person. I think history will judge him in 50 years from now as the worst President ever. I predict he will be seen as:

  1. a criminal, both in his business affairs and while President
  2. immoral, or perhaps amoral
  3. a victim of psychological disorders, likely sociopathy and/or narcissism
  4. grossly incompetent

What’s more important is to understand his base of supporters. They represent a huge portion of Americans. And they will be here tomorrow.

In a two-party system, Trump’s base is by definition a coalition of multiple groups and reasons to support him.

For example, one faction is anti-abortionists who’ve been on a decades-long quest to overturn Roe v. Wade by altering the composition of the Supreme Court via control of the Presidency and Congress. They’ve been transparent about this for a long time.

Trying to make sense of all of Trump’s coalition is where I get confused. Even in my own family – comprised of smart, kind and accomplished people – it’s a mixed bag of pro- and anti-Trump support. I don’t understand it.

I watched Fox News this week. Not something I generally do. It was awfully different than the many centrist media outlets that I consume daily. I don’t think Fox taught me much. I saw a ton of evidence of how different my opinions are to their broadcasters and presumably their viewership. But I learned very little as to why those differences exist.

Yet understanding both parties’ coalitions is what’s going to keep this great country together and making progress. We must understand each other. We must have empathy for each other.

This doesn’t mean compromising one’s own values. Or unconditionally accepting the behavior of others. But understanding and empathy are required in order to find any common ground. And common ground is what we need most right now imho.

So my quest is to keep trying to understand what I don’t. Perhaps that quest would serve each of us well.

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