I am viscerally sickened at the thought that almost one-half of American voters chose Trump. But I think we need to be careful in how we interpret our feelings and how we frame our emotional and intellectual response to political disappointment and sadness associated with society’s deep divisions.
There is always a danger in dehumanizing the “other,” whether done on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, etc. The danger of dehumanizing Trump supporters is no different — it makes us feel good, gives us a convenient explanation for how things went horribly wrong, but ultimately deepens our alienation from one another in ways that are counter-productive to our need to build bridges, find common ground, and foster healthy communities.
I am trying to resolve this conundrum in my own mind and heart with little success. I can talk to a Trumper for about 30 seconds before my brain begins to explode. The answer must have something to do with reminding ourselves of our common humanity and shared imperfections. Trump is everything a leader should not be, of that I am sure. But I am not content with a blanket moral condemnation of the half of American society, including neighbors and relatives, who voted for him. These are folks who will continue to see me as the enemy, and I them, unless we can figure out how to have a conversation without our brains exploding.