The United States has a new president. If you were to create a decision tree — a chart to help you pick and model the role you want to play in American democracy, starting today, this is the only fixed piece: Donald Trump is our commander in chief. From there, you could build outward, drawing a diagram that would outline the various avenues available to you, depending on how you feel about the election result.
FOR THE TRUMP VOTER
If you’re in support of Trump, your path is relatively straightforward, though not perfectly linear. It is clear now, looking at the numbers, that Trump wasn’t simply elected by the vicious opponents of civil liberties that were profiled on The Daily Show. He was also elected, as economist Thad Beversdorf pointed out to us in June, by people who’d lost manufacturing jobs and felt left out of the system. People who were, as Killer Mike put it this morning, “poor and angry.”
Trump’s words about women, Mexicans, Muslims, and other minorities were vile by any metric. But the vitriol both obfuscated and underlined the fact that his voters felt like they were the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, the forgotten populace of this nation. So the decision tree for a Trump voter would likely spread out in one of two directions, based on their responses to a single question:
Are you in support of what the president elect said while campaigning?
If your answer is “yes” then you likely hope that he will keep those promises — by building a wall across the Mexican border, initiating an “extreme vetting” system for Muslim Americans, or putting forth a nationalist/authoritarian regime. Your primary option at this point becomes “wait and see.”
If your answer is “no,” if you found yourself repelled by Trump’s words, but supported him because you believe that he provided the best path forward for you and your family, then you’re left in a trickier spot. Perhaps you’ve awoken to feelings of cognitive dissonance between what Trump said about women and minorities vs. what you feel. Here again, “wait and see” is an option, but there are other, more active choices at hand.
Let’s say that you voted for Trump simply because you felt disenfranchised economically. That being the case, now would be the time to get involved as an ally for human rights issues as we all move forward in Trump’s America. Will you educate other members of the voting base on the reality of the transgender experience? Will you fight for the religious freedoms that the conservative-beloved constitution vows to provide for everyone? Will you strive to empathize with the anger and sadness that minorities across the country are feeling, then work to ensure that those minorities, panicked about the loss of basic human rights, will have a place in this new world order?
Most of all, will you be brave enough to have conversations with both the alt-right and the far left? Because you, the Trump voter who rejects hate (even when it was displayed so brazenly by your chosen candidate), represent perhaps the most viable bridge for re-connecting our fractured society. (If that’s the path people decide to take at all, a question that deserves its own branch on the post-Trump decision tree.)
The fact is, Donald Trump is about to have a lot on his plate. He was chosen as a political outsider — the only president to never hold either a high ranking military post or a public office of some sort prior to being elected. Meaning: His situation is completely unprecedented. He has his own decision charts to worry about. So if you’re on board with Trump’s stated goals about trade and manufacturing, but don’t agree with the vice president elect’s idea of LGBTQI conversion therapy, now would be the time to say so. Loudly.
If you elected Trump on the premise of “he’s not perfect, but he’ll fight for the disenfranchised” then this is the exact moment in history where you, as his base, can at once broaden the idea of who is disenfranchised, and narrow the definition of who or what you’re fighting against.
This is where you say, “We elected you for ___________ Mr. Trump, not for ______________.” And you have to be able to fill in those blanks. Because so many people who followed the election don’t know what goes into those spaces. And they’re terrified of those unknowns.