Living with the consequences

Throughout this awful US election season, I've been talking a lot of trash about Donald Trump, and justifiably so. There's plenty of documentation to support what makes him a repugnant human being, and there's no sense in covering it more.

The fact is, the people of the United States elected him President. And they handed him a cooperative House and Senate, paving the way for a fully-stacked deck for the first time since the 1920s. For those of liberal bent, this is a pretty dark time.

My daughter, age 12, has been listening to me talk throughout this election, and has crafted her own ideology based on mine, believed more rigidly, more intolerantly because she is so young. When the results came in early this morning, I had to decide how to tell her that every horror story I related had actually come to pass.

It's a question I've seen repeated on Twitter today: what do I tell my child? For what it's worth, here's what I told mine on the way to school:

You're feeling angry and betrayed this morning. You believed that your world was a stable place, that it made sense to you, and what's happened today has forced you to realize the world isn't what you thought it was. Your first reaction is going to be to spread that anger to others: you're going to say angry things about the President-Elect, about his policies, about the people he's going to put around him.

Don't fall into that trap. Hate is what got us here, but love and understanding are the only things that can set things right. The people who voted for Trump are hurt and angry too, and we have two choices: we can treat them as aberrant, idiotic, uneducated losers, or we can realize they're people too with complaints about a system that has failed them.

As Canadians, we are especially powerless to effect US political discourse, but we are still atoms in a chain reaction that can spread care, love and understanding.

So when you hear people talking about the election, or about Trump, you have a choice to either say nothing, or to help talk people down, to defuse the anger. But what I hope you can not do is light the fires of hate in other peoples' hearts, to help separate people, to make our problems worse.

I hope these things for my daughter, knowing that I'm going to struggle to that same standard.

I'll finish with a quote from that wonderful monument to liberal democratic values, The West Wing, and its first episode of the third season, Isaac and Ishmael. This quote referred to Islamic extremism, but it applies equally well to how we should respond to last night's events.

Learn things. Be good to each other. Read the newspapers, go to the movies, go to a party. Read a book. In the meantime, remember pluralism. You want to get these people? I mean, you really want to reach in and kill them where they live? Keep accepting more than one idea. Makes 'em absolutely crazy.