Where do we go from here? Finishing 2016

“An analysis of the state of sociopolitical discourse after the 2016 election.”

 

The 2016 presidential election has been one of the most verbally charged elections in history. It also appears to have played a part in what modern American political discourse looks like. Before, the figure of “the racist distant relative you only see during holidays” and “Facebook friends from high school that post morally gray statuses and feel superior about it” had been played off as jokes. We didn’t think that they were tangible things that exist in our own offline social circles. And as much as we want to accept the results and move on, we have to address the state of political and social justice dialogues.

Dialogue among Americans is largely divided into two schools of thought. There are two subsets to this discussion: people who are mobilizing to protect people who might be affected negatively and people who feel there is nothing that can be done and that we must simply live with what is to become of the nation now. While both perspectives can be seen as valid, only actively working to protect people who face ever-present danger can really be considered productive. People who are working to help others have voiced their aggravation in more ways than one. They are peacefully protesting in our own backyard in order to have their voice heard. While many of them will say the word “hate” to express those feelings of frustration, it is not without provocation. They hate the prejudice which will become normalized under Trump’s administration. They hate the fact that they feel afraid to interact with their fellow Americans because they have seen others like them physically attacked for simply being. They hate the institutionalized bigotry that oppresses them. It isn’t a blind feeling that they feel only because Trump will take office.

People who feel there is nothing to be done, often called “moderates,” continue to respond to this with the same dialogue. They claim there is hate on both sides, that both sides have lost, that minority groups shouldn’t bother to protest because it is a waste of their time. Khloe Kardashian even tweeted, “I guess either way you look at it, history will be made tonight. Spread love, not hate!” But what moderates fail to understand is that the capacity to hate is not what prompts many protestors and objectors to be angry. They are angry because they do love. They love their families, their friends, their neighbors, even strangers like them. They are angry that those people that they love will be put in harm’s way in a country where they are supposed to feel safe. Moderation also seeks to pinpoint how one side attacks the other and preaches a message of acceptance of one another. However, more often than not they are going after minority groups voicing their distaste in acts such as neo-nazi graffiti tagging and the growing number of children in schools being beaten and verbally harassed ─ there is little discussion of how those acts should stop because those people must also accept minority groups.

This election, if anything, has shown us that there is more need for discussion than ever. Although one person cannot dictate what that discussion should be comprised of it is more constructive to discuss what can be done to lessen negative impacts than it would be to simply write the whole thing off and hope for the best.

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