From the blog

Listening vs. Hearing | Election 2016

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” -Plato

I wrote in my last post that it’s hard for me to be in Germany during such a pivotal moment in U.S. history. That has never been more true than in it is now.

When I wrote my last blog post, the video of Donald Trump describing sexually assaulting a woman had not yet surfaced.

When I first heard his words on that recording, I felt nothing. I wasn’t angry or hurt. I was not phased by it, because I have become immune to his hateful and disturbing rhetoric. Nothing this man says surprises me anymore. I am numb.

Of course, the more I heard his words repeated, the angrier I got. I’m a college woman and I can’t count on one hand the number of people I know who have been violated, abused, and assaulted. I think about what it must be like for them to have to hear Trump say those things – and then defend them as “locker room talk.”

My heart aches because a man who clearly doesn’t understand basic consent might be President of the United States in less than a month. I am so deeply angry for so many reasons.

But here’s one of the things that angers and puzzles me the most: there are many people out there that, despite recent events, are still relentlessly defending him.

I post about politics quite a lot because I think that in a world where social media is such a huge part of our lives, it’s important to also utilize it as a tool to have conversations about important issues.

Naturally, when I post controversial thoughts, I receive controversial responses. Usually these conversations frustrate me but also help me to better understand views that differ from my own. Even if I don’t agree with someone, I still want to know why they think the way they do. The conversations are usually somewhat productive for me, despite causing my blood pressure to rise upon occasion.

However, this is absolutely not the case when it comes to Trump supporters.

I’ve found that die-hard Trump fans cannot be reasoned with. In typical Donald Trump fashion, they tend to spread the views and theories spewed by conservative media outlets as if they’re indisputable facts, while simultaneously attempting to discredit media sources like the New York Times and sometimes even the Wall Street Journal. The true irony of it all is that they don’t mind listening to Donald Trump lie on national television, but they despise Hillary Clinton for being a “liar.”

And speaking of Hillary Clinton: I’ve noticed that Trump supporters’ favorite way to defend Donald Trump is to ignore the criticisms of him and simply bring up random criticisms of Clinton, which is an incredibly counterproductive.

Of course, this is a generalization of Trump supporters. Maybe there are some out there who aren’t like this and I just haven’t met them yet. Again, this is simply a reflection of my experiences engaging with Trump supporters.

When I really think about it, it makes sense. Trump supporters are voting for a man who continuously makes xenophobic, sexist, and ignorant remarks and then refuses to apologize for any of them. Every time he does something outrageous (which occurs too frequently to really keep track of), they make excuses and shrug it off.

Trump does not have any experience with politics or foreign affairs. He has the temper of a teething toddler who missed nap time. But millions of Americans trust him with what is arguably the most important job in the world.

Because I have found that Trumps supporters don’t respond well to basic logic, my stimulating political discussions have slowly turned into infuriating debates between myself and people who make misguided comments that go against everything I stand for. I am no longer learning from these discussions; rather, they leave me feeling disheartened, confused, and scared for the future.

What used to be a dialogue containing a difference of opinion is now saturated with hate.

So from now on, I don’t plan on engaging in any sort of discourse with Trump supporters, whether it’s online or in person. Usually I love having my views challenged and listening to those I disagree with. But Trump and his supporters are exceptions to this. I can no longer justify listening to his followers defend views that dehumanize so many people.

I question the morals of anyone choosing to vote for Donald Trump, and I no longer wish for them to share their thoughts and opinions with me.

My mom always tells me, “Ann, you’ve got to stop arguing with people who live in their own little bubble. Their world is so much different from yours – but not in a good way. You can’t change that.”

She’s right, of course.

If you are also feeling frustrated and scared by the prospect of Donald Trump becoming President, consider this a warning from me: engaging with people who show unwavering support for this man cannot see in him what you and I see. They don’t understand how dangerous he is – or maybe they do, but just don’t care.

So if you wish to have any sort of control over the next four to eight years, vote.

If you wish to have an impact on this election, my advice to you is to engage in discussions with those who will respect you and will contribute to the conversation in an intellectually stimulating manner. Only speak with people who you know are willing to include factual information in the discussion. I know that’s easier said than done.

When I speak with people about important issues, I can usually tell if they’re listening to me or just hearing me. Sometimes they absorb my words, consider them, and respond. Sometimes they sit and wait for me to stop talking so that they can say what they want to say, completely disregarding all of the words that just came out of my mouth.

I’m guilty of not being a good listener, especially when it comes to topics that I am very passionate about. Sometimes I just want to get my opinion out there and I become so focused on expressing myself that I forget that another person’s point of view is just as important as my own. But I always try and remind myself to listen instead of just hear.

Trump supporters hear me when I talk to them, but they sure as hell aren’t very good at listening.

I have very dear friends who identify as Republicans. Some of them are voting for Gary Johnson, some for Hillary Clinton. We are able to have pleasant, productive discussions about current issues because they are respectful and informed – unlike nearly every single Trump supporter that I have encountered thus far.

Please don’t interpret this blog post as a suggestion to stop talking about politics all together. I am only sharing that I have slowly learned that this election is not a normal election, and because of this, I am taking a break from it.

I just needed to get that off my chest.

Here are a few random last thoughts to leave you with:

  • Tomi Lahren, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter are not credible sources. Don’t quote them like the know what they hell they’re talking about.
  • If you decide not to vote in this next election and Donald Trump ends up winning, please know that I will expect you to pay for my therapy sessions for the next 20+ years.
  • When you read a news story, consider the inherent bias. For instance, I love the Huffington Post, but I’m aware that it’s a form of liberal media. I personally utilize my “News” app to receive articles from a variety of sources, including Fox News, The Economist, NPR, and Politico.
  • Disliking Hillary Clinton is not a good enough reason to vote for Donald Trump.
  • Democracy is a beautiful thing. Let’s not fuck it up.

And a few external links that I think are worthy of your time:

Why facts don’t matter to Trump supporters

They didn’t stop Hitler. Will we stop Trump?

Trump’s second debate, in brief

More Republicans un-endorse Trump

An open letter to Donald Trump from some angry women

Kneeling is not disrespectful. Trump is.

Please note: the external links that I have shared are not necessarily from authors who agree with the ideas and thoughts expressed in my post. They are simply blog posts and articles that I think are important at this time.

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