The United States took a huge step back with its choice for president this month. I have been feeling the pain and sadness in my gut.
At the same time, there is another part of me that knows we took more steps forward this month than in any since Kindling launched. It knows that the presidency is just one aspect of the systems we are transforming. The U.S. is just one country on a big planet. This was a setback on a larger trajectory that has been and will continue to bend toward peace and justice.
The reasons for this month’s presidential election results are deep and complex. No one explanation is complete. My mind has been turning over and over trying to make sense of it all.
Here are my 3 biggest takeaways as of now:
1. Racism and sexism run deep in America
I’ve heard many people – mostly white men – try to underplay the role of race and gender in this election. They say it was mostly about economic despair or anti-establishment politics. It’s not really about race or gender, deep down – they say.
Yes, there were many factors at play – not the least of which is rural America feeling abandoned and condescended to by urban America. Yes, these fears are piqued by real, pervasive economic hardship in our country.
But by underplaying the role of racism and sexism in this election, we conceal a deep, painful truth in favor of a more comfortable explanation.
If we learn anything from this election, it must be that racism and sexism run deep in America. They color every aspect of our lives and our politics, and in ways that are invisible to many of us.
The sooner we accept this, the sooner we understand our way forward.
2. Trump and his supporters are not the enemy
It is easy to make Trump and his supporters the enemy – to put all of our anger into them, to hate them. Anger is certainly a valid response right now.
But by making people the enemy, we miss a deeper truth.
Trump supporters are operating out of a different worldview, a different mental operating system, than progressives. Their brains literally see a different reality.
Progressives value inclusion, compassion, and viewing life from others’ perspectives. They want to build bridges and bring in different perspectives.
Trump supporters are concerned primarily with protecting themselves, their families, their own communities, people who look like them. They want to preserve their way of life.
The real conflict here is between opposing worldviews. It is worldviews that determine how people act. It is worldviews that must evolve if we want to see peace and justice.
By seeing people as the enemy, we deny the need for work in ourselves. We deny that our own worldview is incomplete and imperfect.
By seeing people as the enemy, we fail to acknowledge that people – including Trump supporters – can and constantly do evolve into new beliefs and perspectives.
3. We are now more activated than ever
With Obama as president, a lot of us felt like we could count on forward momentum without acting ourselves. We now know that’s not true.
The sentiment I’ve heard most in the last few days is that it is simply not acceptable to stand quietly and watch this happen. There is energy and intention to act. People who have never been particularly political are ready to step up.
There is a broad base of progressive thinking in our country. Hillary won the popular vote. Bernie Sanders challenged her more than anyone thought possible. Young people – the most passionate, creative, and driven activists among us, and the voters of the future – are overwhelmingly in favor of progressive values.
If we choose, we can take meaningful action to bring about our next systems right now.