Tonight is starting to feel like a victory for Donald Trump and his campaign against the establishment, but for a lot of people, as CNN pundit and former Obama administration official Van Jones explained in stirring comments, it’s a “nightmare” thought for many who have felt as though they were picked upon, maligned, or otherwise targeted by Trump’s rhetoric and the hatred of some of his supporters.
Trump’s voters are reacting to a great and sweeping anger. They feel left out of the American dream as jobs get shipped overseas, and that’s something that we can all empathize with. But some of that anger is, doubtlessly, as Jones points out, a response to the progress we’ve seen over these last few years. America is more diverse now. Gay marriage is the law of the land. We elected a black man to be president twice and nominated a woman to pursue that job for the first time. This all scares the sh*t out of some people and this “movement” has felt tailor-made for them at times. The effect of this is that Jones has Muslim friends asking him if they should leave the country and he’s wondering how to explain the rise of Donald Trump to children when he has, at times, embodied the kinds of things that we all teach our kids to be better than.
As Jones points out, Donald Trump is going to have to make it clear that he doesn’t stand for hate and that he wants to actually stand for all voters who feel left out of progress and equality, saying, “we don’t want to feel that someone has been elected by throwing away some of us to appeal more deeply to others.”
The lesson we take away from tonight, isn’t it’s high time for blue-collar white voters to get theirs. The lesson is that we need to always rise above the notion of “turns” and our silly divisions. Politics is one thing, but this has all felt like a bitter war, and in that, there are bound to be no real victors. We need to elevate and respect everyone — that is Jones’ message and hopefully Trump echoes it if he winds up winning this election. Sadly, a message like that from a Trump victory speech (and a follow-through on that) might qualify as a surprise based on our preconceived notions of who he is. But in truth, we have to open ourselves to the possibility of that more palatable and presidential version of Donald Trump because it really is our only option right now. America is mad. America has spoken. But it takes more than anger to lead. United we stand and divided we fall: it’s a catchy turn of phrase that seems supremely applicable right now.