I’m not even going to pretend to be bi-partisan in this post. I think a Trump presidency would be a terrible, terrible thing for our country and for the world. Not only do I have strong objections to the man’s character, I just do not agree with a single policy issue he stands for. Based on a number of factors, I simply do not believe he could lead our country with any measure of competence. And I honestly, don’t mean that as an insult. It’s just my honest and dispassionate conclusion.
That being said, I find it deeply troubling that our country is so vehemently divided politically. The fact that Donald Trump is the GOP frontrunner in this election didn’t come out of nowhere. His nomination is a painful and sobering indication that we are really falling apart as a nation. We’re hurting and we’re fearful. And we’ll do anything—ANYTHING—to resolve it.
When people are under tremendous economic pressures and feel their voices are consistently not heard, they will get behind someone who speaks their language and threatens to demolish their oppressors. And that is how they see Hillary and the establishment. It’s not necessarily that they don’t believe she will be a good president, but that she’ll be a president that will continue to ignore their concerns. And Trump, likewise, isn’t necessarily their dream of presidential decorum, but he’s a guy that once he’s in the White House, is really going to fuck things up. And that is their best hope. It’s desperate, and it’s terrifying.
How is he still in this?
The fact that Donald Trump repeatedly behaves in ways that would be character suicide for anybody else (let alone a presidential candidate), and now dealing with a flood of sexual assault allegations, does not seem to deter his supporters. Now you can look at this at least two ways. You could assume that Trump supporters either condone his loutish behavior, which I doubt, or they simply care less in comparison to their primary fears.
The Republican Party used to be the party of conservative religious morals. That party is long gone. I imagine a white Catholic woman in her late sixties hearing her party’s nominee bragging about grabbing women by their vaginas as she clutches her rosary to ask God to forgive her in advance for what she is going to do on November 8th. How is this not what is happening all over God’s country? I feel for this woman and the psychological turmoil this election must be putting her through. It’s not an easy choice for her, but somehow it’s worth it.
The political game lacks compassion.
Consider the origin of traits such as racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and narcissism. Hate stems from fear. It comes from shame. It comes from insecurity. It’s much easier to judge and shame others for being on the “wrong” side of the political spectrum than it is to really listen and empathize with their pain points. Why is that hard? Because empathy means feeling what others feel, and if they’re feeling pain, that means you have to feel it, too.
We cloister ourselves into self-righteous tribes where we can sanctimoniously vilify the other less educated, less informed, less whatever. Politics is played at this level exclusively. It’s a barrage of sound bites, stump speeches, and Internet memes all designed to malign the evil “other.” There is no pro-Trump campaign, just an anti-Hillary campaign. There is no pro-Hillary campaign, only anti-Trump.
There must be another way.
What if it were illegal to even mention the other candidate in any campaign ads or speeches? What if candidates actually had to answer the questions posed by voters about their policy proposals and weren’t allowed to defame their opponent in any way? Of course, the media wouldn’t profit from such regulations. But just imagine what that might be like. Imagine how much more informed we would be about each candidate’s positions and not having to arrive at our conclusions solely on the basis of who was badmouthed the least.
Now, of course that will never happen in our blood-thirsty political theater. But let’s imagine how you might engage in social media if you stated your opinions without denigrating whole groups of people or using straw man arguments. Imagine what it would be like to state your opinions without having to be right. It takes a lot of energy to defend and maintain your right-ness. It is possible to have opinions based on their own merits and to allow others to have their own opinions without feeling threatened. Other people’s opinions have nothing to do with you.
You don’t have to be right.
If your uncle thinks Trump would make an outstanding president, you don’t have to be offended. Not because you know you’re right, but because you know you only think you’re right. When you realize that your thoughts are only thoughts, you can hold them more lightly. Only then can you listen to others without defense. That doesn’t mean you give in or abandon your beliefs. You can still think your right. But the minute you know you’re right, you lose the ability to connect.
So how do you deal with people who are certain about their rightness? Let them have their opinions and empathize with their concerns. You just say, “I see what you’re saying. You really feel threatened that Mexicans are going to come here and take our jobs. I can’t say I have the same concern, but I can imagine that must be scary for you. So you think building a giant wall would be the best solution to alleviating that fear, do you?”
Don’t hate. Participate.
The Buddha said, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die.” You don’t have to hate Trump to not vote for him. You can be mindfully engaged in this election without succumbing to and fueling the playground antics wielded by both candidates. You can have political discussions without insulting or denigrating anyone. There are actually other reasons to vote for either candidate that have nothing to do with the opposition.
You also don’t have to pretend this isn’t happening in order to stay mindful. Some feel the need to remain deliberately uninformed and blissfully ignorant. But burying your head in the sand wouldn’t be mindful at all. You can take media breaks—just step away for a day or two and find beauty in just about anything else. This shit storm will still be here when you log back in. And when you do, just remember to close your mouth.
Finally, and most importantly, VOTE! Don’t be one of these people that have decided to not vote because they don’t like either option. This isn’t just about you and your personal distaste for both candidates. I’m not a huge fan of Hillary Clinton either, but we do have to choose. One of them is going to be in the White House this January. You don’t have to hate one and love the other in order to make that choice. You don’t have to be “with her,” in order to cast your ballot in her favor. You're not choosing a best friend, you’re choosing a president. Try to put your personal tastes aside and ask yourself which candidate you think can actually do the job of president . . .
Then go vote for her ;)
About Our Blog
Here you will find articles contributed by members of our team. We hope to provide helpful information here to inspire mindful living and general wellness. The information provided here is not a substitue for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need to speak to a professional regarding your mental health, please make an appointment.