When Education Meets Accountability
I think it’s safe to say our new president’s transition into office has been… rocky, at best. And since I’m a female minority with a college degree who has lived abroad for several years, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that I’ve never been part of the Trump bandwagon. But instead of placing the blame on everyone else and regurgitating a bunch of tired arguments against the other side, I want to take this opportunity to practice what I preach and show a little accountability. No more finger pointing, no more deflections.
Now, this message is for my fellow Americans who aren’t supporters of our new POTUS. But even if you do support him, that’s totally fine – if anything, this may be one of the few articles you read that addresses how the rest of us are just as much to blame.
I can totally admit that I never thought Donald Trump would win the election. (I still don’t believe he actually wants to be president, but that’s another topic). And for the record, NO – it’s not because of what the media portrayed of all the presidential candidates. It was simply the assumption that the majority of Americans shared the same thought process as we do. Many of us who voted for Bernie or Hillary assumed they would be a shoe-in, and that there was NO WAY an out-of-touch billionaire reality star could win. Of course, there were people like Michael Moore who predicted Trump’s win, but some of us brushed it off. We were wrong. Clearly.
As I was watching the election results pour in live, I was surprised that I was constantly seeing the term “white, no college degree” flash across my screen when it came to the most influential voting demographics. I honestly can’t recall another election during my lifetime when there was so much focus on that particular group of people. Clearly, this time, white Americans with no college degree were the driving force behind the results. And I’m incredibly sorry to say that I had underestimated the number of people belonging to that category, as well as their impact.
Brushing People Off
There’s a reason why so many of us who receive world-class educations are considered snobby. Many of us brush people off, rather than trying to share our real world experiences and privileged level of knowledge. And THAT… in my opinion… is why so many people without college degrees were such a relevant demographic in this election. They were pissed. They felt like they were ignored, or not taken seriously. So, when there was a presidential candidate who spoke their language (literally) and constantly addressed them, it’s no surprise that they would end up voting for him. In that sense, I was absolutely part of the problem.
I’ve labeled people as “irrelevant” for not meeting a certain standard of intelligence as the rest of my friends, and I’ve used the term “trailer trash” more times than I can count. In a way, you could say I was living in a bubble, as 99.9% of my friends hold at least a Bachelor’s degree, are from multi-cultural backgrounds, speak multiple languages, and have lived in at least two different countries for an extended period of time. For me, that’s the norm. And I didn’t take much interest in people who didn’t have that level of real world experience.
Even during Hillary’s campaign, I feel like she made the mistake of focusing primarily on states with a higher number of high school and college graduates. If I put myself in the other people’s shoes for a second… why wouldn’t I be mad as hell and vote for the other candidate? It makes total sense.
Whether we agree with them or not, they’re still Americans. They have genuine concerns and viewpoints. When people feel ignored, brushed to the wayside, and like their voices aren’t being heard, it’s only a matter of time before they push back. And that’s what happened.
Not Leading By Example
I’m so… SO sick of hearing and reading the term “BOTH sides.” It’s dismissive and only serves to deflect the problem at hand. But in this case, to many of you in opposition of the POTUS, we need to point the finger at ourselves. At least, for a little while. Now that we’ve gotten ourselves into this mess, we need to lead by example and figure out a way to inclusively solve the problem. Name calling, pointing the blame at others, spewing tired ass phrases, and using that immature “but HE said ____” tactic isn’t working.
I won’t pretend I’m smart enough to come up with a single solution at this time. But I do believe if we take accountability for our part in the election, and focus on education and inclusiveness, things can get better. Let’s not demonize others for their beliefs and thinking processes, as that is often symptomatic of a person’s life experiences (or lack thereof). If lack of education was the downfall of these election results, then those of us with fancy degrees are the ones who failed. We failed, and the system failed.
WARNING: The next statement may potentially sound very condescending, even though it’s not my intention. If you hold a degree, have been exposed to various cultures around the world, and/or personally know people who may be negatively affected by what’s going on in the world right now, you know better. We’re not basing our “opinions” on internet memes and random news articles. We’re basing our opinions on PERSONAL EXPERIENCE – arguably, the best source of facts and information out there. We know better. And we need to share what we know. Not in a way that will ostracize others, but in a way that will enlighten and inform. We hold a great deal of power as educated individuals, and with power comes responsibility.
Do not stoop to labeling others, do not continue to brush off the uneducated, and do not forget that we’re all in this together. Whether we like someone, agree with someone, or even respect someone, we’re all on the same ship. Whether we sink or swim, we all need to realize that – in some way – we’re partially accountable for the outcome.
Do not go gentle into that good night. -Dylan Thomas
Our grieving process needs to be over, and now we need to use our education and real world knowledge to make a positive impact. It requires a level of patience and maturity that may feel like a stretch for some of us (myself included), but it’s doable. Whether it’s that last bit of childlike innocence I have left in me or not, I do believe that some sort of good can come out of the next four years, because of those who still believe in equality, compassion, and the value of unwavering morals.