In my social media feed there is a lot of shock and grief. And there is a lot of anguish about the narrow majority of Americans that elected Trump in spite of his outrageous behavior and pandering to bigotry.
To my friends of the liberal sort, their most important criteria was Trump’s blatant bigotry and they considered it important to vote for Hillary in order to vote against bigotry. Though a significant number were also truly enthusiastic about her “qualifications” for the office.
My friends of the conservative sort had many valid reasons for voting against Clinton. Handing a symbolic defeat of bigotry may not have been their most important criteria for voting. For some it was about gun rights. For some, the threat of more liberal activist supreme court justice nominees that would have been guaranteed under a Clinton regime. A large number on the conservative side were enthusiastic about him as well.
I think the idea of getting enthusiastic about someone running for president is ludicrous. Which person would I like to dilute and destroy individual rights this time?
I tend to vote based on who I think would be the best steward to protect the fundamental American rights to life, liberty, and property. In this election, neither candidate was good on fundamentals. Primary after primary, we choose candidates who do not even give lip service to these rights, but I don’t go so far as to say that a majority of voters repudiate these values.
I do think that individual rights are not given enough weight in the minds of voters because they don’t know how important they are to human thriving on Earth. They take these rights for granted… that so long as we have the vote, we can enact any government program and it won’t destroy these rights. It’s simply untrue.
All of that being said… It is not logically defensible to judge exactly what voters in this election repudiated just because you happened to declare that the election was about some specific priority. The individual is the unit of decision making power. Maybe they agreed. Clearly they didn’t. Everyone had to decide for themselves what was the most important thing to defeat and vote or not vote accordingly.
So what can we actually infer about voters based on the election results? They expect politics to be dirty. They expect the other side to lie and spin. They create their own social media echo chambers so they no longer have to hear offending opinions.
Do they reject social equality? Some do. And some reject the manner in which it is being exploited. But the election says nothing about this other than it wasn’t top priority.
Do they reject gender equality? Some do. But the election says nothing about this other than it wasn’t top priority. (Also, observe that it is every bit as sexist to vote for someone because they are female as it is to vote against them if it is one of your key criteria.)
Do they reject political correctness and multiculturalism? No question. And on this point, I believe they are right to do so. These are the biggest threats to free thinking and free speech. They cause self-censorship and foster no discussions on important topics. When you can no longer discuss things, people tend to resort to force because it is the only means left.
At some point, the elephant in the room must be dealt with. If you prefer non-violent means, you must discuss.
A presidential election campaign is not the place to have a discussion on what kind of society we wish to have. It fosters the worst kind of communication possible. Every message is guaranteed to get mangled and distorted by the opposition. What comes through is a mere caricature.
We cannot afford for elections to be the main expression of our hopes and values. Voting is just about the least important civic action as a citizen in a free democratic society. A final summation to all of your thought, action, and discussion.
The appropriate place for thoughtful discussion to begin is on our blogs. Here we can reason out our ideas for what is good and bad. Think things through. Support our positions thoroughly, eliminating fallacies and hyperbole through the process of editing.
We can read the arguments of others in good faith.
We can follow up with face-to-face chats.
We still have a republic that respects free speech. Let us use it.
If we do not exercise the right to speech in order to defend individual rights over and above all other government priorities, it may one day come to the point where freedom of speech is no longer respected by the government. And where you cannot speak, you must fight or escape.