Congratulations, Trump supporters. You did it. On Tuesday night, against every odd and every poll, you went out and you voted. You did what everyone said couldn’t be done: you elected Donald Trump to become the 45th president of the United States. And I, for one, could not be prouder – of you.
You see, Donald Trump was not my choice. I voted for Hillary Clinton. But I’m ok with the fact that Donald Trump was elected because regardless of who I chose as my candidate, my loyalty is and will always remain with the furious. I stand with the misunderstood. I side with those who have never had anyone on their side; with the people who are shunned by pro-social members of society, those who have never fit in and who have never had a voice – until now.
Today millions of people are being seen and heard. They have a voice! They have a club to which they belong and they are feeling hopeful and victorious. This is a great thing. Take it from someone who knows: people who are angry and feel like they are invisible only get angrier and more destructive in an effort to be seen. With this win, a great deal of air has been let out of the fury balloon. We’ve been given an extension on that destruction and even better, the chance to understand it.
I stand with you, Trump supporters, because I get it. You guys spoke and I, for one, am listening. You must have been pretty furious to have come together like that and despite the fact that my candidate lost, I am more interested in understanding your anger than I am being pissed about politics.
The thing is, I am mostly alone on this. Most Hillary voters don’t want to understand you. Today, they are the ones feeling lost and hopeless. And I know that for you, that probably feels great too. But since I also suspect you know exactly how that feels, I am asking for your help.
It’s not enough that I get and respect your vote – I want the world to get it too. With great power comes great responsibility, and now that you are in power I am hoping you will give me the opportunity to speak to you.
I have spent my entire life working with people who are invisible. Individuals who are different. Passed over. Misdiagnosed and misunderstood. I have conducted research studies and written essays on the ways in which these people cope in a world more interested in judgement than understanding. I say this now only so that you will know that I truly understand what it means to feel hopeless without recourse. I say this because I can empathize. And empathy is the only universal language.
Donald Trump won, and he did so fairly. There was no conspiracy and there is no scapegoat: millions of people went to the poles and elected Donald Trump as their president. They insisted on being heard and their success is well deserved. But make NO mistake: Hilary Clinton won the popular vote. Don’t dismiss that because it’s important. It means that she received more votes than he did – stay with me – which means that it’s very possible your win has an expiration date.
Democratic supporters are as angry now as you were before the election. Remember how angry you were? Remember how that felt? Remember what you did? You went to the polling stations and you got your nominee elected. And that is exactly what the democrats will do in four (2 years, if you count the congressional elections) years – UNLESS you can find a way to understand their anger. And you are the only ones who can do it.
Winning feels great, doesn’t it? It’s the best high in the world. My guess is that you would love to win again. And even though I did not vote the same way that you did, I also want you to win. Again. By a landslide. Because winning the next election by a landslide will mean that you helped even more people to see your perspective. It will mean that you are not only visible, but persuasive. Not just loud, but influential.
A very famous psychologist -Carl Jung- once said that “knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people.” I know this better than anyone, and that’s why I did my homework. I met Donald Trump. I spoke to the supporters. I went to the rallies. Even though I wasn’t planning to vote for Trump, I educated myself on the needs of the his supporters in order to understand where they were coming from. Now it’s time for you to do that. Get to know your own darkness. Remember how it felt to be ignored. Understand why those who voted differently are now angry. It’s the smartest move you can make. And you are smart as hell.
Donald Trump is a brilliant competitor, but whether you like it or not he has said things that present a SERIOUS threat to lots of people – don’t dismiss that. Don’t say “it doesn’t matter” or who cares” because LOTS of people care and you want those people on your side. Empathy is how you get them there. Take it from someone to whom empathy doesn’t come naturally: the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is a skill worth mastering. It’s like a skeleton key, opening doors you didn’t even realize were locked.
Resist retaliating against at those who are upset. I realize it makes your blood boil, but they have a right to be angry. Donald Trump says a lot of incendiary things. Just remember how you felt when Hillary Clinton called some of Donald Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables” – you went nuts! And you would have gone even more nuts if she had won. Yes, they are demonstrating. Yes, they are angry. Yes, they are protesting. You know exactly how that feels so allow them to feel it.
Millions of people are devastated by this election, but I am not one of them. I see the bigger picture. People are angry and people are divided but people are also talking. They are communicating – some of whom for the very first time! Hundreds of thousands of individuals are being forced to hear one another. And this is something that would not have happened had Hillary Clinton been elected.
So thanks for that, Trump supporters. You demanded to be heard and now we are listening. You don’t have to agree in order to educate, so help us to understand. Invite us to your homes. Buy us a beer. Tell us your story. And from time to time remember to check in with your darkness, because it’s the only thing that is going to bring the nation back into the light.