The 10 Most Common Post-Election Narratives, and Why They’re All Wrong
Don’t buy into the myths quickly taking hold in the post-election analysisPhoto by Zach Gibson/Getty Politics Features Donald Trump
It’s time to weigh in on some emerging narratives (among both pundits and everyday people) that have little basis in fact or are actually counter-factual.
1. Donald Trump ran a great campaign that unearthed a heretofore silent populace.
On Wednesday morning, I read the argument that Trump ran a great campaign in the sense that he spoke to a part of the populace that was hurting economically, demographically insecure or otherwise ready for his message. Anti-Trumpers can’t fault Hillary, Democrats, liberals, moderates or anyone else. They were just swept up in the Trump wave. In the blurriness and shock of Wednesday morning, that sounded plausible. Maybe even persuasive. Then I saw more data. (And I care deeply about the data, whether it supports my ideology and biases or not.)
A quick look at turnout data: It seems 2016 was nothing special for the Rep-candidate. It’s the Dem-candidate that didn’t get the vote out. pic.twitter.com/wby3gta26m
— D Yanagizawa-Drott (@yanagiz) November 9, 2016
2012 Obama: 65.9m
2016 Clinton: 59.1m = -6.8m
2012 Romney: 60.9m
2016 Trump: 59m = -1.9m
You tell me what happened
— Domenico Montanaro (@DomenicoNPR) November 9, 2016
Both of these tweets deserve some caveats. The graph in the first one doesn’t start a zero, so it exaggerates the changes. That’s a warning sign but appropriate here, given the point being made and the closeness of the election. As for the second tweet, votes are still being counted so the 2016 numbers (and the differences, in particular) have changed and will continue to change. As of early Thursday evening, Trump’s down from Romney by one million votes instead of two, and Hillary is off Obama’s total by roughly six million instead of seven. But my points below should hold.
With or without those caveats, the Trump-ran-a-historic-campaign narrative (and the degree of vindication his supporters feel) is not supported by the facts. No, stronger than that. They are contradicted by the facts, at least as we have them right now.
Romney (a Republican that anti-Trumpers, including Democrats, now long for) was an incredibly weak candidate. He was not embraced enthusiastically by Republicans. And he was very much viewed as an out-of-touch elitist.
Yet, Trump—this supposed Pied Piper of the anti-elitist working class, producing a swell that swept him into office—got fewer votes than Romney. I expect he’ll come close to matching Romney, and he may well surpass him. But not enough to change this fact: he did not unearth a wave of “real Americans” or “marginalized, white, working-class Americans” or “racists Americans.”
The state- and county-level data (forget exit polls for a moment) do tell a more nuanced story. There was a definite shift of working-class voters and rural voters to the Republican candidate and a shift of (presumably) educated and suburban voters to the Democratic candidate. And some flipped states had higher turnout and some lower. (The conservative National Review posted an analysis looking at a few crucial states that flipped and concluded that Trump 2016 would have beaten Obama 2012 in a hypothetical matchup. Soon after, the writer had to do a mea culpa after discovering he’d used bad data. Treat all breaking news analysis, including mine, with a grain of salt. But dominant narratives emerge quickly, and I feel the need to push back now.)
The bottom line is that the real story is NOT of a “tidal wave of working-class, anti-elitist, anti-globalization voters” sweeping the country and world. The real story is a massive decline in the turnout for the Democrats.
Progressives should very much worry about the working-class shift and what it portends for their prospects (not to mention, oh, the real concerns and pain of the working class). And many have been. But as a sole explanation of this election? No. Consequential and a big-enough issue on the margins to swing the election? Bigly. But not a revolution that has swept the country.
Why has this narrative taken hold?
First, it should be a big part of the discussions. Working-class concerns were a significant factor. More importantly, the electoral map shifted and this may point to a long-term shift. (But so do Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona, etc.) But again, when one side gets about the same total number of votes and another gets roughly 6 million fewer, when total turnout is this far down, this smaller (for now) working-class shift needs to be put in perspective.
Elections are changed on the margins, but there are a lot of margins we could look to. Third-parties, many other demographic groups that (seemingly) didn’t vote as expected, voting laws and procedures in the south that could have changed the southern end of the map (a much smaller impact than the midwestern change, but not inconsequential), etc. However, the big swing appears to be Obama voters who didn’t vote for Hillary. (Some of them are working-class voters who moved from Obama to Trump, but given Trump’s flat totals, there were an equal number of Romney voters who didn’t vote for Trump.)
Second, this explanation helps a large group of college-educated Americans, including almost all professional pundits, make sense of what happened. This group already viewed Trump’s candidacy as outside the norms of healthy politics and politics as usual. They saw Trump as so offensive that he would certainly send droves of people running away from his candidacy. With many prominent conservatives and most prominent moderates denouncing him, the seeming wave of Latino and women voters turning out against him, the polls supporting a poor (if possibly close) showing for Trump and the change in Ohio that was clear early on, the working-class explanation is easy to understand. And it does helps explain Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and others. But a tidal wave? To get to a Romney-esque vote total? We’ve got to dig deeper.
Some will argue that turnout is always a problem for Democrats, and Obama was unusual in his ability to mobilize voters. Fair enough. But, one, pundits are pushing this “tidal wave” language because of the change from 2008 and 2012. It feels like a massive change. And, two, it looks like the turnout percentage for this election will be among the lowest in the last century. It’s in line with 2000, 1996 and 1988. Hardly, “wave” or electorate “revolution” years. You have to go back to the 1920s to see numbers much lower. You can’t just chock this up to Obama being an unusual candidate. So stop with the “global tidal wave of resentment” talk. Dig into working-class Trump voters, but don’t miss the very significant demotivated Obama/Democratic voters. Some of the concerns may be the same, but that’s a different story.
2. The shy Trump voter skewed the polls.
It is a fact that there were Trump voters who, afraid of their friends’ reactions, kept their support secret. Most of us know some of them.
That fact, combined with the surprise results of this election, makes this seem like a plausible explanation of the polling miss (and that miss needs an explanation, but more on that a little later). But we should be highly skeptical of this claim. I can’t say this is counterfactual, but there’s enough other evidence to say that this just isn’t supported by the facts.
It is also a fact that there were Hillary supporters who kept their support secret. A coworker of mine who is a feminist progressive and normally has yard signs and bumper stickers was afraid to have either or voice support for Hillary out of fear of the pervasive. That’s an anecdote. Here are the facts.
Trump outperformed his poll numbers, going from 42.3% in the average of the last 4-way polls to roughly 47.6% in the election. Hillary also outperformed her polls, going from 45.5% to 47.6%.
Does that just mean that there were more Trumpy shy voters than Hillary shy voters, kind of supporting the assertion?
No. There are too many other, more plausible explanations. Gary Johnson underperformed by almost two percentage points (the difference in their over-performances) and there was somewhere around six percent of undecideds in the polls. If undecided voters and Johnson supporters broke heavily for Trump (as seems reasonable), that could explain the whole difference. And it doesn’t mean this group were shy Trump supporters. We were told over and over again how people weren’t happy with their choices and they felt like they were choosing between “the lesser of two evils.” (Can we please retire that tired phrase and concept? I’m sick of hearing it, election after election.) It seems more reasonable to assume that many undecideds were actually undecided, torn between two undesirable choices, than to assume they lied to pollsters.
Throw on top of this the previously highlighted data, the five-to-six million Obama voters who didn’t even show up to vote. You could explain the entire poll miss, and then some, by a sizable number of these non-voters getting past the likely voter screen (in simplistic terms, saying they intended to vote but not). Maybe they thought more about the email “scandal” and the Comey letters and were discouraged enough to stay home. Maybe they believed the pundits and select pollsters and polling aggregators who predicted a 99% probability of a Hillary win and thought they didn’t need to vote. Maybe, living in a red or purple state, they believed their neighbors who predicted a Trump landslide and thought their vote wouldn’t matter. Maybe they were West Coasters who thought the election was over when they saw the call for Florida and North Carolina and her struggles in the midwest. Maybe…. who knows. We do know that group wasn’t comprised of shy Trump supporters (by definition, because they didn’t even vote), and we know there were millions of them.
Finally, we should be suspicious of this argument in general. There’s a real difference between lying to friends and coworkers, whom you actually know and see regularly, and lying to a pollster. If anything, a shy Trump (or Hillary) supporter should want to lie to their friends while telling the truth to a pollster to bolster their candidate and help normalize their own viewpoint.
This shy voter argument was made before this election. I was skeptical then. I was skeptical in 2008 and 2012 when some feared a group of poll respondents were lying to pollsters about supporting Obama but wouldn’t be able to vote for a black man in the end. I was skeptical when the shy Bush voter (afraid of elite liberals’ snobbery toward the anti-intellectual Bush) argument was made in 2004 and 2000. This is not new. But it lacks compelling evidence (there’s not much evidence period, and what exists is conflicting and speculative). I’m sure some lying to pollsters happens, but not enough to explain this election.
3. Nate Silver led us astray.
I’ll cop to being a Silver fanboy. Not because he has some predictive magical powers, but because he does fantastic analysis, explaining that analysis—and its potential pitfalls—in great detail.
Certainly, he missed. But let’s put that into context.
First, if you just looked at his 71% likelihood of a Clinton victory and walked away confident, you don’t understand probabilistic projections. Read the analysis. And understand that a 29% likelihood ain’t nothing. Even when he showed Trump down at a 16% weeks before the election, he warned against too much confidence in this projection, against the idea that she had this in the bag. He compared it to Russian roulette (with its 1/6 probability of catching a bullet). Would you want to play Russian roulette for the leader of the free world? If you read too much into his bottom-line number, that’s on you. Don’t do that in the future.
Second, Nate is not a pollster. He’s aggregating their data and applying some additional analysis. If they collectively miss, he misses.
Third, maybe you weren’t paying attention to all of the others predicting a much higher likelihood (up to 99%) of a Hillary win. Maybe you missed those who accused Silver of either putting his finger on the scale to make the race appear closer than they knew it was or hamfisting his analysis and making bad adjustments. He pushed back, pointing to the inherent uncertainties in polling in general, the fact that we haven’t had that many elections (especially with reliable polling) and those data points aren’t enough to have a high-confidence statistical model, the high levels of third-party and undecided voters in this cycle, the real possibility of a popular vote / electoral college split in Trump’s favor, etc.
4. The polls were worthless.
So Silver missed but by less. Still, the data was bad and you’re going to ignore the data from here on out. Right? Please don’t, at least if you’re going to do any prognosticating and analysis.
You know who was more wrong than the pollsters? Pundits. Without data, they would have really been all over the place. We need pundits to analyze the data, to talk about what they’re seeing that might show up in the data eventually, etc. But we need polling data as well. We just need to remember it’s probabilistic. Blind faith in the numbers is also foolish.
The use of polling—the horse race coverage it encourages and its feedback effect on the electorate—is another matter. It’s a real issue. Nonetheless, I’d rather live with that than horse-race-driven pundits without any data.
So how were the polls wrong?
First, the national polls didn’t miss it by that much. Three percentage points isn’t a big miss in modern polling. But many state polls fared much worse.
Without getting too deep into the weeds, let me try to provide a brief primer.
Polling is fraught with all kinds of complications. Even if you understand enough about statistics to grasp sampling error, confidence intervals and the seemingly magical central limit theorem, there are so many complications with election polling that it’s a wonder that polling routinely gets as close as it does. So let’s break this down a bit.
First, there is basic sampling error. Most people probably understand the basic idea of a margin of error for an individual poll. When you look at multiple polls, we see a related but different phenomenon (with the same implication as margin of error). If you repeatedly pick, say, 30 people out of 100 and find their presidential preference, you’ll get a distribution of results that looks like the bell curve. With some confidence interval (say, 95%), the real result (people’s stated intentions if you could actually poll everyone) will be within a small interval of the average of those polls. But there’s a chance (5%) that the real result could be anywhere in the tails, high or low. That’s basic statistics, simplified (and a little loose with the terminology).
The more polls we have, the lower the chances of this error. We have had fewer polls this cycle (especially quality polls—i.e., those that used solid methodologies, like calling landlines and cell phones). Nonetheless, I think this is by far the smallest factor in the miss.
There’s more to polling procedures and opportunity for error than that. Pollsters don’t deal with truly random samples. First, you don’t have a universe of every registered voter, or even every eligible voter, to randomly sample. Second, you have to have a way to reach them (Do they have a phone? Cell or landline?). Third, they have to pick up the phone and respond. (When do they work? Do they answer calls from numbers they don’t know? Do they answer the survey when they find out what it’s about? Are they more likely to respond to a human than an automated voice?) If any of these issues are unevenly distributed across candidate choices, polls will be off.
Pollsters know this, and they have their own models to adjust for these factors. Maybe their assumptions were wrong. I would guess that this played a role, but I’m not inclined to pin the bulk of the blame on this. I don’t know the details of their models and adjustments, and pollsters will be looking at that to do better. But I don’t see 2016 as so different that it would dramatically affect these types of adjustments.
There’s also a very simple factor: polls do not measure votes; they measure professed intentions. Humans change their minds, even at the last minute. Generally, I completely discount this factor (as something that could swing an election, anyway). But in an election this unusual with multiple October surprises and even a November one, this may have played a very real role.
However, there’s one factor that worried me the whole campaign, in part because I understand it least and in part because of these very unusual candidates: the turnout model, aka likely voter screen. Trump claimed he would shake up the map (the map was shaken but see myth #1 before applying active voice) and energize people who hadn’t voted before. Anti-Trumpers claimed (or at least hoped) that he’d mobilize record numbers of minorities, women and college-educated whites to vote against him. Could the likely voter screen miss them (under- or overestimating their propensity to vote this time)? Given the ambivalence toward the candidates that polls showed and the five-million missing Obama voters, I’m inclined to think this was a primary factor in this election’s polling miss.
If you’d like to read more, see FiveThirtyEight’s analysis and one pollster’s thoughts. We’ll know more after pollsters finish analyzing what happened. The story may change. If you’d like to know more about likely voter screens specifically, you can read the gory details from Mark Blumenthal at Mystery Pollster (he’s now at SurveyMonkey).
5. White women, black people, conservative Latinos or some other group is to blame.
If you’re bumfuzzled by how the pre-election polling missed the results, the exit polls missed it even more. Yuugely. They were pointing to a Clinton landslide. Exit polls have always been worse than regular polls, and it’s only gotten worse. Moreover, the finer you slice their results (by race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, etc.), the less reliable they become.
So those pointing to the majority (53%) of white women who voted for Trump need to dial it back a notch. The exit polls probably aren’t 20 percentage points off. So if you expected 75% of white women to vote against him, then yes, the exit polls disprove that hypothesis with a reasonably high level of confidence. However, I have zero confidence that a majority of white women in fact voted for Trump.
Setting aside the wonkish analysis, finger pointing is not effective, especially at this early stage. Any group (especially white males) could have changed the results. It’s on each of us to get out and vote and, especially if we’re the finger-pointing type, to convince others by making not just good arguments but arguments that others can actually hear and give serious consideration.
But if you’re going to finger-point, at least do it on the basis of good data, which is in short supply. County-level (actual) voting data is reliable but it still requires some inferences, and that’s not what I see most people referencing. Also, be wary of comparing that data to unrealistic expectations. Not everyone is like you. If you’ve ever thought, how could any (woman, black person, immigrant, Christian, etc.) vote for (pick a candidate), then you need to check your empathy stores. And by “you,” I mean “me.” And pretty much all of us.
6. This was all about economic status or all about race, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia. Or “Help! Half of our friends / all Americans are (out and proud, or just unmasked) racist, sexist xenophobes and homophobes.”
Now, I’ll dial down the objective(ish) wonkish analysis and put on my progressive hat. Cards on the table. Ideologically, I’m extremely progressive. Temperamentally and tactically, I’m moderate to conservative (I like the “progressive who gets stuff done” idea, and I believe in strong institutions with a classically liberal view of individual freedom). Empathetically, I struggle but understand where conservatives, evangelicals and Trump (who’s neither) supporters are coming from. As a Republican alternate delegate to the Georgia convention at 18, who stood on the floor of the RNC as Reagan gave his last speech to that crowd, who co-founded and co-chaired his College Republican chapter (recognized as the fastest growing in the country at the time) and was trained by an Austrian School economist (the most extreme form of free-market economists there are), I get it. I understand the arguments and concerns.
Economic concerns are real. That’s one area where progressives and Trump agree. But the simplistic narrative that this is all about workers out of jobs misses too much. We had (flawed exit poll) data in the primaries showing Trump supporters were economically better off than supporters of the other candidates. Detailed analysis of votes by county show that Trump votes were not correlated with unemployment rates (which, nationally, are quite low, let’s remember). But they were correlated with the percentage of routine (farming, manufacturing, administrative and sales) jobs. Note also (not stated in FiveThirtyEight’s analysis) that those things correlate with education levels and population density. I’d also like to see how that correlation has changed from previous elections before reading too much into its effect on this particular election. Nonetheless, economic insecurity was almost certainly a factor.
I hope some of the perspectives I’ve offered earlier help women and minorities feel better about their neighbors, that there wasn’t this huge swell of voters who hate them. I hope the economic narrative helps them with that as well. Regardless, we have to also recognize how demographic uncertainty plays into this. And we need to have that conversation without putting everyone’s backs up by attaching the labels of racist, misogynist, etc. Technically, academically, pedantically, that may all be correct. But it does not move the conversation forward. It just makes people retreat into defensive positions and confirms that the labeller doesn’t understand the labelee. By calling subtle racism what it is, we enable the “I have black friends”-style arguments. Our conversations have to be more empathetic.
Now, one of the truly scary things about this election and its aftermath is how it’s emboldened not-subtle-at-all racists, misogynists, homophobes, etc.—from the school children and frat boys yelling at women, immigrants, gays and others to the card-carrying members of supremacists organizations who have openly talked about armed insurrection and are now celebrating their taking back of the country. This needs to be shut down, loudly, repeatedly and by everyone of good intent, regardless of ideology and candidate preference.
The fact that Trumps candidacy and election has emboldened those groups is reason enough for fear and for mourning. For a long time, I actually wanted Trump to get the nomination so that 75% of the electorate could send an unambiguous message to that extreme group of people that no, this isn’t your country anymore and you can’t have it back. Clearly, I was naive and reckless in my thinking.
Further, to everyone who called on Muslims to denounce radical Islamists and everyone who called on Black Life Matters supporters to denounce extremists who targeted police, if you fail to denounce—in loud and certain terms—the violence, hatred and aggression of these hate groups, then I don’t want to hear from you. And don’t tell me about how I’m focusing on the extremes. Of course. So were you. And it’s a heck of a lot more prevalent than terrorists in this country. Don’t talk to me about false flag operations. Just condemn the extremists. Loudly and often, not as an aside. Otherwise, you’re encouraging—aiding and abetting—the worst of us. Trump supporters, you have an especially high burden. Your vote encouraged these groups. That’s not opinion or histrionics. That’s from their own mouths. If you want us “sore losers” to “get over it,” you’ve got some work to do.
7. Liberal smugness and lack of empathy led to this.
With no offense meant for my friend and former business partner Nick Purdy, this narrative is too simplistic. It is false, misleading and true at the same time. (However, I do owe Nick and others an apology for my own smugness when it comes to political discussions over the years. I’ve followed politics and wonkish policy issues for most of my life, but I tired of arguing or even discussing such things during my college years. For most of my adult life, I’ve been too exhausted, burnt out, lazy and insecure for more than the occasional quip, which comes across as dismissive and undoubtedly is).
This claim is false in three ways. One, to my oft-repeated first point, there wasn’t a swell of Trump supporters offended by liberals smugness. We had a normal amount of people vote for the Republican candidate. Given that, I don’t think you can say that smugness led to Trump voters. (Our surprise reaction can be attributed to that. And I suppose you could argue they would have voted for Clinton if we hadn’t offended them so much, but that’s a tough sell. Smugness doesn’t win anyone over. But I don’t think it pushed people there.)
Two, perhaps a corollary to the previous point, this election was not unique. Were liberals really that much more smug toward Trump and his supporters than they were toward Romney? George W. Bush??? More fearful and strident, yes. But more smug and less empathic? I think that’s hard to do in comparison to liberal treatment of W and his supporters. Three, to take seriously the concerns of the Trump voter this myth references, I have to look at economic anxiety, demographic anxiety, national security concerns, concerns over abortion, etc. The smugness-as-causal-factor (i.e., our smugness was somehow more important than their real issues) feels itself dismissive of those I’m supposed to empathize with.
It is misleading in that the liberal part of the claim is a red herring. Yes, liberals should own up to a certain smugness and lack of empathy. A yuge truckload full of it. So should moderates and NeverTrump conservatives. Most did not see this coming. And I heard as much (if not more) dismissive and angry language from them as from liberals. The warnings of a dangerous megalomaniacal strongman, the Hitler comparisons, the accusations of racism and all the rest were voiced loudly by prominent conservatives, moderates and liberals. If you want to tease out the commonality, point to elites, not liberals. And not (just) media and political elites, but most college-educated folks who live in urban cores or suburban areas. We are the guilty ones.
It is true in that lack of empathy is driving a wedge between Americans. If we don’t address this, the division will grow, and American civic life will get ugly (uglier). We can’t continue down this path, and it’s right to call out smugness and lack of empathy generally.
Let’s also talk about smugness and lack of empathy on the part of Trumpists and even many NeverTrumpers (the National Review online has not comported themselves well, post-election). To dismiss those struggling with the election results as histrionic sore-losers, sheeple who’ve been led astray by the media, is beyond smug. To reference naïve, participation-trophy-receiving millennials is dismissive. To call protesters un-American spoiled brats and free loaders upset that they might not get as much free government goods is insulting and displays a hostility and blindness that goes well beyond the absence of empathy. (We don’t even have to go to the hypocrisy of this talk coming people who three days ago were still talking about rigged systems and, at the extremes, armed insurrection.)
8. The media … anything.
Given my day job, I’m going to force myself to be brief on this one.
First, if you’ll permit me a pedantic point, you mean “the news media.” Game of Thrones has nothing to do with this.
Second, it should go without saying that the news media is not monolithic, so you’re making gross overgeneralizations. Not all news organizations are alike, and within news organizations, reporters and pundits performed differently.
Third, and most importantly, let’s use our broad generalizations a little more accurately. Cable news outlets generally performed horribly. They chased ratings, perpetuated false equivalencies, focused on the horse race and scandals (Hillary’s emails got more coverage than all of the core issues in both candidate’s platforms combined? Really?), and so on.
But print media largely redeemed itself. While they had some of those problems, outlets like the Washington Post produced some great reporting. Editorial writers at outlets ranging from The Atlantic to The Nation to National Review loudly and eloquently sounded warnings, as did the editorial boards of virtually every newspaper, including those who’d never endorsed a Democrat.
We need to explore why those warnings weren’t heeded by more people, but my novella is turning into a novel, so I’ll move on.
9. This proves the folly of the two-party system and the need for a parliamentary system.
I’ve long admired European-style parliamentary systems and wanted more vigorous third parties. As gridlock has gripped our government over the past few decades, that desire has grown.
This election (with help from David Frum) has flipped my thinking.
First, our system of government has kept dangerous demagogues out of the White House for 240 years. It may have failed now, but that’s due to the weakening of the two parties, not an inherent problem with them. The parliamentary system makes a Berlusconi more, not less, likely. It allows Tories to rule for an extended period over a more liberal Britain. It allows the Conservative Party to rule a more liberal Canada for a decade. It enables fringe candidates, and I see the folly in that now.
Second, while parliamentary systems do solve the gridlock problem, I’m beginning to appreciate gridlock (and not just because Trump is about to assume command). Conservatives certainly appreciated it when Obama was in office, so hold off on shouting at Democratic obstructionists. (I hope Democrats obstruct what needs to be obstructed but, unlike Republicans, don’t obstruct legislation that both parties agree helps the country.)
But let me speak to my fellow progressives about the gridlock imposed on our policies. One lesson progressives could take from Obamacare is that half-measures don’t work, and we should have held out for single-payer. Maybe that could get passed in a parliamentary system. The counterpoint is the lesson I’m taking from this election and the ACA backlash: lasting change must be broadly supported. Hearts and minds must be won. (I’d also same the same thing to pro-lifers/anti-abortionists—not the same thing—who long for a Supreme Court ruling that may never go their way.)
When I look back over the past century and look for effective change agents, I’m looking past tea-partiers and Gingrich’s Republican Revolution. They shifted the center of debate, but they only succeeded in gridlock and dividing us, insuring a ping-ponging between parties. The shining examples of social change are FDR and The New Deal, the Civil Rights Movement and the Reagan Revolution. One required packing the court. One required marches and serious upheaval. Two required major economic downturns to set them into motion. But what they all had in common were leaders who set out to change hearts and minds. They valued persuasion over obstruction. They sought to bring along the average American, and their impacts have lasted to this day.
10. It’s OK. Or, it’s not OK. Or, wait and see.
Regardless of where you come down on the election, what’s going on in its aftermath or what the future is likely to hold, recognize that some of us are in mourning. When someone has a death in the family, most mourners don’t want to immediately hear platitudes about how the person’s in a better place or how time will heal, no matter how much the speakers or even the mourners believe it.
We need space to go through the range of emotions and process it however we need to (short of violence). If you think we’re being melodramatic or exaggerating what might happen, please keep it to yourself. Certainly for now.
For the Trumpists and (some) conservatives: Don’t compare our grieving to how you felt after Obama’s election. We’re not concerned about things as comparatively trivial as a hit to our pocketbooks or the passage of policies we merely disagree with. This is not just about “our candidate” losing. Many are fearful for their physical well-being. Many think they’ve been told that they don’t belong and aren’t wanted in this country (and I don’t just mean immigrants). We’re not reacting to what others have said about Trump (like y’all were about Obama); we’re reacting to what he said out of his own mouth.
And it’s not just about him. Maybe not even primarily about him. It’s about the actual hatred and bigotry and violence he’s inspired, that we witnessed on the campaign trail and now in the election’s aftermath. This isn’t just a story from the media. We’ve seen it with our own eyes. We have multiple friends who’ve been verbally assaulted just in the last three days. If you don’t know of anyone like that, maybe you need to get out of your bubble. The stories in these tweets aren’t a media invention. We know first hand. Maybe most of this will die down. If it is to die down, we’re going to need your help to shut it down. Time alone is not enough.
Please, do NOT tell us to get over it and hang tight.
“Can’t we all just get along?” It’s going to take empathy on all sides. It’s going to take boldness to push back against speech, actions and policies that hurt others. And it’s going to take extending each other a little grace, even in the face of protests, riots, histrionics, celebrations, misspoken words and more.
Be kind. Be graceful. But also be bold in standing up for each other.