Understanding the Other Guy’s Fears

R.J. Skywalker Burks, Guest Opinion

California is a pretty unique place. For the most part, we feel sheltered from a lot of what happens in Washington D.C. and the rest of the country. At least that’s what I’ve been told by hundreds of tourists in my life.

When the news hit that Donald Trump won the presidential election, I wasn’t terribly surprised at the backlash that hit social media. Then again, I wasn’t terribly surprised at the results. For weeks I had been speculating that things would go in Trump’s direction while whomever I was speaking with told me, “There’s just no way.”

I know people from all over the country. I follow the news as best as I can, and I knew that the over-lying theme in the country was (and is) fear. Fear of not being able to feed your family, fear of terrorism and fear that our government wasn’t doing anything to ease those fears. Trump spoke to those fears far better than Hillary Clinton did. It was more than that though. Trump seemed to have some type of “invincibility factor”—no matter what the offense, he always came back. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, was held to an almost irrational level of scrutiny. Clinton was the establishment; her leash was going to be much shorter.

The media and the blue states never seemed to pick up on this. Sure, they got Trump’s fear-mongering and massive tastelessness, but for people trying to stay afloat in the middle of the country, that didn’t matter. Trump was going to take care of the things they were afraid of, bring money back to the United States, and who needed the rest of the world? That’s what mattered. An outsider promising to take America out of foreign hands beat out the lifetime politician with the conventional rationale.

Predictably, the blue states and the media went into mass hysteria. Protests became riots, social media changed its narrative but remained just as heated and confrontational. No one took the time to understand the other side after Clinton beat Sanders for the nomination. It continues on Facebook, Twitter, all over. Trump supporters chastise protesters as if they never did anything of the sort when Barack Obama won (they did, both times, perhaps in different ways, but just as loudly). Blue state folks see Trump voters as racist, misogynist, hate-filled bigots. Some are, but some are just thinking about getting their careers back and look past all the negativity. Most of it doesn’t effect them anyway. That is a huge problem for the protesters. How do you look out for yourself when you know these other groups are being treated so badly?

The takeaway, for me, is that we all need to listen to each other better. Within hours of the results, California secession propaganda flooded the internet. That’s not the answer. We need to reach out to Nebraska, Idaho, the South, Texas and find out what the people there are really like. What do we have in common? How can we all get our needs met so that we stop fighting and demonizing one another? We need to ask more of our representatives and our media. Stop telling us what we want to hear inside our own bubbles, and help us get what we need.