Liberals, we need to talk. Let’s just admit it. We think we’re better. We’re the non-racist, level-headed, college-educated elite waiting for those ignorant conservatives to open a book sometime and stop voting against their own self interest.
Truly, liberal elitism has gone unchecked over the past several decades, culminating in what can be summed up as an ideology oblivious to its own shortcomings.
But why? Who have liberals managed to lose over the past century?
According to Michael Tomasky of New Republic, liberals have lost touch with middle America, “which is a pretty big deal, given that middle America is extremely large, and encompasses most of the country, and generally determines the outcomes of most presidential elections.”
Per Tomasky, to those supporting Trump on a economic basis, “The horrors of a Trump presidency notwithstanding, the electoral situation isn’t really all that bad, that those [middle Americans] aren’t really all that bad; they’re typically accused by the other side of being soft on racism, or even racist themselves.”
Recognizing middle America does not mean recognizing Neo-Nazis. There is nothing good that will come of likening acts by those in Charlottesville to every Trump voter. Nobody is solving anything by trigger happily throwing out insults such as redneck, bigot, ignorant, uneducated or stupid. To those of you who do, YOU are part of the problem. I, reluctantly, admit that occasionally I am too.
And of course it is fallacy to believe any idea permanently belongs or even exclusively belongs to one party. In the same way that many Democrats are anti-abortion, there are many Republicans who dislike the idea of a border wall. No policy is distinctly partisan, evidenced through how many seemingly contradictory politician’s bases overlap. After all, according to Michael Tomasky of New Republic, “9 percent of Barack Obama’s voters flipped to Trump.” And per Danielle Kurtzleben of NPR, “Fully 12 percent of people who voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries voted for President Trump in the general election.”
Furthermore, in a study by the scientific journal Nature, “Challenges to political beliefs produced increased activity in the default mode network—a set of interconnected structures associated with self-representation.” By that token, insulting someone’s political views is similar to outright insulting the person. This is where it’s dangerous to affiliate ideas exclusively with one political ideology. All of a sudden, debates on topics such as abortion that should be able to be discussed level-headedly become heated debates relating to people’s core identities.
Why did Trump win? How could he when he is completely negligent of the humanity of so many people? Perhaps it was because Trump acknowledged the humanity in middle America.
So how can we begin to recognize the humanity in middle America? We listen.
Listening does not imply agreement. Listening is not ‘giving in.’ Listening is validating the other as a person. It doesn’t matter how fervorously one fights the good fight. Because at the end of the day it isn’t marches, or convocations or angry Record articles that create long-lasting change. That role belongs to conversation. To open oneself up to being vulnerable both to oneself and to each other.
I, for example, am for vastly revamped gun control. Yet I, from listening to my friends on the other side of the aisle, now understand why owning a shotgun for hunting is something that matters to them. Conversely, I’ve lead these same friends to be more favorable of gun control.
Likewise, I challenge the entire campus to listen. To converse to learn, rather than to win. All of us, I believe, are striving for the American dream – a place and time every American, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, class or political party work together to create said dream.
Yet most of us, in striving for this dream, have left something behind.
Our neighbor’s humanity.
As for Goshen, I see a lot of anger in our community. Anger that is often valid, for the hurt we have caused each other is valid. But I once more implore you, my fellow Goshen student, to put down your pitchfork and recognize the humanity of those who share this campus, this Maple Leaf identity and this country with you.