By Addie Quinlen
Senior Guest Writer Addie Quinlen writes about her emotions following the 2016 presidential election and how to move forward from this event.
Tatler asked my opinion on the election and its aftermath, but first I want to clarify my perspective on life and politics. I am a politically conservative Christian, and I voted in this election cycle. For moral and political reasons I felt uncomfortable voting for either Clinton or Trump, so after great consideration, I “wrote in,” prioritizing my morals over pragmatism. Even so, I have the utmost respect for those who voted for one of the main candidates.
On election night I was comfortable being one of two non-Hillary supporters at a party of 20-30 Turkeys; I’m accustomed to being one of the few conservatives at St. Mary’s. As Trump pulled ahead and people around me started crying, I cried too, both out of frustration with the choice of candidates and out of love and empathy for my classmates.
The night went on, and ultimately Donald Trump became President Elect. I knew that the next day at school wouldn’t be pretty, but nothing could have prepared me for November 9. I listened to a barrage of angry comments, both at SMS and on a national level, about how disappointed people were in America, how Trump supporters are just uneducated bigots who don’t deserve a vote, how a vote for Trump is a vote for everything Trump stands for, and how people were too angry and disgusted to respect Trump voters. This hateful rhetoric twisted my stomach into knots; I was exhausted by the mere idea of explaining my pain to the angry world around me. I hopelessly wondered why people couldn’t understand this.
The biggest complaint I heard against Donald Trump was that he’s hateful. Whether he is or isn’t hateful is beside the point. Everyone around me preached acceptance, condemned Trump for his lack of it, and then refused to accept his supporters. People showed the same intolerance that they claimed was so infuriating.
At St. Mary’s, we accept people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, etc., and that is a good thing. Acceptance of minorities, which used to be difficult, is now a social norm in mainstream media culture and certainly here at St. Mary’s.
We at SMS may struggle to understand the perspectives and beliefs of Trump voters. We are now challenged to accept those whose motives are alien and potentially offensive to us, and we are dissolving into hatred instead of standing by the principles of acceptance and respect for ALL people. We are mean. We stereotype. We refuse to move past our anger.
Besides the prevalent lack of basic respect for Trump voters as humans, I also noticed an unjust invalidation of their perspectives. One example is the claim that all Trump voters must be voting for/believe everything Donald Trump stands for and says. Does everyone who voted for Hillary support everything she stands for? Were all of her voters comfortable with her connections to the fossil fuel industry and corporate money or her support of free trade deals? The fact is that no one on earth shares your exact views. You support a candidate because that person is as close as you’ll get to a representative of your interests. Voting for Trump is not voting for hate. Another is “all Trump supporters are uneducated bigots.” I know people who voted for Trump, and they are very well educated, intelligent, kind, open-minded people who found Trump mildly, moderately, or extremely distasteful. They still chose him for a myriad of rational and respectable reasons – for example, some voters saw a Trump vote as a long-term investment for conservative Supreme Court Justice appointments. Some viewed his outrageous statements as campaign strategies that he would abandon once elected. Some considered Trump a means to an end: he would either be an effective way to push conservative legislation through a Republican Congress or block legislation in a Democratic Congress. I could go on. And we cannot ignore that half of the electorate voted for Trump. While there are certainly some angry, bigoted, and/or uneducated people in the mix of Trump voters, a group of 61 million Americans is not mostly uneducated idiots.
My goal is not to sit in judgment of you, my fellow Turkeys, nor do these descriptions apply to all of you. Moreover, if circumstances were different and the majority of SMS shared my views in such a situation, I suspect I would find myself reacting with bitterness and disrespect. After all, we’re only human.
In order to respect everyone, despite opinions, you must know why you want to be respectful; otherwise, it’s too easy to abandon such ideals when they become inconvenient. I believe all people deserve my respect because no one person is better than another. This is easier said than lived out, of course, but it’s essential to my faith. I’m not asking you to respect the opinions of Trump voters, per-say; I’m asking you to refrain from belittling Trump voters, treating them as less than human, and invalidating their right to their beliefs.
We’ve been living in hypocrisy, promoting respect for all…except for those we don’t want to respect. So why do you believe that all people deserve your respect? Do you really believe that they do? I challenge you all to ask yourselves these questions, and to make the extraordinary effort to love and respect people unconditionally. It will be difficult, and there will always be times when you fail, but since when has doing the right thing been easy?