The Result

She’s 13 now. 13 and a half (and change). But who’s counting? Sofie stands now five foot four inches. That means the child I brought back to Chatham when she was 13 months and grew up amongst us, learning to swim, skate and sail, and earning her black belt, is now less than a foot shorter than me. That seems like a milestone of sorts.

The summer population of Chatham was the margin of victory in the state of Michigan’s 16 electoral votes.

I was 10 years old for the first presidential election I can recall, Ford vs. Carter. In November of 1976, I was sorely disappointed Gerald Ford didn’t get a chance to serve a full term. It was so close. I said I would not refer to Jimmy Carter as “Mr. President.” He was not my president. I was 10.

Six million Democrats chose to not to show up for Hillary Clinton on Election Day.

Sofie has been keeping track of this election season for a year at least. She chose to support Bernie Sanders, despite or because I did not express my preference for an individual. It’s important, I feel, to have an open, honest discussion with loved ones about issues. There’s no accounting for how that manifests itself in preference for one candidate over another.

Over one third of Hispanics chose to vote for Donald Trump, and overall more people of color voted for him than Romney in 2012.

It is hard to think how much has changed, how much we have gone through since this day last year. Even if the outcome were inevitable, the process seems to have been chosen for maximum cruelty to us all. And then being asked to just be quiet, accept it and move on.

A majority of college-educated white women did not vote for Hillary Clinton.

But you don’t learn anything that way. There’s no growth, on either side, if you don’t reflect as to why this turned out the way they did.

Hillary Clinton received over 1,000,000 more votes than Donald Trump.

In the past two weeks, there was a lot of good writing, led by David Wong (on, of all places, Cracked), regarding how out of touch the Democratic Party, pollsters and the media has become about the state of economy across the country, and how that led Americans to seemingly vote against their best interests. Families desperate to cobble together an income from a few part-time minimum wage service jobs and who just lost a child to a drug overdose were told to somehow put their faith in a candidate who represented the status quo over the one promising to blow up the system.

Over 40 percent of voters cast no vote for president at all. No candidate approached even 30 percent approval of all registered voters in the country.

Moreover, they were told if they didn’t, they were racist and misogynist. Pigeonholing is a no more effective tactic for winning hearts and minds here than in the Middle East. In enough cases, these voters either chose to overturn the card table or stayed home.

In short, they have been waiting decades for someone to bring simple results. A decent job so they can afford a decent home and have some self-respect. As Lenin said of St. Petersburg in 1917, the Party “found power lying in the streets and simply picked it up.”

Millions of alienated voters spread across the states Democrats needed to pull off the necessary Electoral College victory. By not even going to Wisconsin, Clinton signaled that the voters there were not important. They, by a razor thin margin, returned the compliment. If you then call them racist, you insure the same result.

Kindness and grace. Those are the words I chose to use in social media on Wednesday, Nov. 9. That is what I asked for, and that is what I gave. Kindness from those who felt victorious. Grace from those who did not.

Frustration and resentment is understandable. For quite some time, Clinton supporters were fed a story that was built upon truths, but essentially untrue. Election Day was the crucible. Anger is a completely normal reaction when one has been deceived. They get to express that – civilly – just like the people who have been economically marginalized, diminished and dismissed still get to express their dissatisfaction in the only way they have been given.

And while they process their grief, it is all well and good that they protest. Donald Trump enabled a climate of hostility towards anyone who is perceived as “other.” Real racists, sexists, homophobes and bigots have been emboldened to take their private prejudices out and exercise them in public. There are countless incidents of cruelty that is, well, un-American at its core. This is not who we are.

It is not unkind to criticize. We often confuse manners with caring. Or character.

Yet social media allows us to create different realities and echo chambers where we get to shut out the voices that make us feel uncomfortable, hold up views that do not reinforce what we feel are wise, enlightened choices. We chastise. We argue. We unfriend. We block. Then we pat ourselves on the back and bask in the praise of all our right-thinking friends (who remain).

Which is reminiscent of what Donald Trump has done. To treat those who will not support him abominably, then claim victimhood when on the receiving end. In this past year it has been frustrating to hear this, and then ask, “Well, which is it? Are you a strong, tough person, or are you a helpless victim?” It’s not as if he didn’t choose this path, after all.

Not that this hasn’t been employed by Democrats. Trump just turned up the volume.We at least saw kindness and grace from Hillary Clinton. She made the call to Trump and then she accepted the results. Trump praised her on 60 Minutes this Sunday. He also seemed floored by President Obama’s treatment of him at the White House. Dare I say it, Donald Trump may have never encountered such a demonstration of nobility, and it looked like it affected him profoundly.

Adults modeling admirable behavior, that’s what I want my daughter to see. This past year, she’s had a tough year of the opposite. She’s been let down, horribly. She will carry this disappointment with her, and so I look for examples of better behavior. I can show her now, at least, how the two opponents have put away their weapons and turned on a dime. To accept and shake hands and move forward.

To the values of nobility, kindness and grace.

 

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