But it isn’t. This election marks the first time in years where the White House and Congress have all been controlled by Republicans. We overcame a very tough, very close election. We dealt with months of people badmouthing our entire party because of one person. We should be celebrating, but we can’t, because everywhere we look, someone has something negative to say. We are expected to feel guilty for casting our vote the way we see fit. People are exercising their #LiberalPrivilege all over the place. Earlier this morning, I tweeted this:
One of my friends responded to this, and asked me to enlighten her. I had seen that she had posted on Facebook and Twitter a couple times around Election Day asking Trump voters why they chose him because she was curious. I’d seen people post similar things to this before, but their word choice always made me feel that they were looking for a political fight – and I wasn’t interested in that at all. However, her outreach seemed genuine. I didn’t respond to her original inquiries to all of her followers, though, because I didn’t want any other people to read it and make negative comments towards me or my views. This is where liberal privilege comes in.
A few weeks ago, I was bored and found myself going through the trending topics on Twitter. One of them caught my eye: #LiberalPrivilege. I had been learning about white privilege in one of my classes, so I assumed that this would be a similar concept, simply directed at liberals rather than white people. (Side note: for those of you who are unfamiliar with the issue of white privilege, you can read about that here – which I highly recommend doing if you are uninformed). I began to read the tweets associated with that hashtag, and felt myself agreeing with mostly all of them. When I explained my aforementioned tweet to my friend who had inquired about it, I explained to her that I felt liberal privilege was being displayed all over social media through the negative comments about Donald Trump, the Republican party, and the future of our nation. I told her that if Hillary Clinton were elected the new President of the United States last night, and I were to write posts and comments attacking her character and badmouth her voters, I would be crucified on social media.
I can only speak about my personal experiences, and I don’t claim to speak for anyone but myself – but this is what I have noticed: my opinions and views are not respected. Because I voted for Trump, people argue that I am uneducated, that I am racist, that I am homophobic, that I am disrespectful, that I am disgusting, and so many other offensive things that do not apply to my character or personality at all. Even while writing this, I am positive that people will use this article as an opportunity to attack me for all of the offensive comments that Donald Trump has made. I will probably struggle with hitting the ‘publish’ button on this draft for fear of people personally attacking me.
I feel uncomfortable talking about my political views in class. Hell, I feel uncomfortable talking about them anywhere. And that isn’t right. I shouldn’t have to feel like I need to heavily justify, explain, and defend my decision to vote for the representative of my political party for people to treat me with respect. Everyone’s opinion should be automatically respected, whether you agree with it or not. I wanted to be happy with the results of this election, but as soon as I heard the news, I was not filled with joy – I was filled with nerves. I knew people would have horrible things to say about the President-Elect, the party, and everyone who belongs to it, including me.
I have written a few articles about my political views before, and in almost all of them, I have talked about how I’ve been attacked for voicing my opinion. People make assumptions about me the second I tell them my political affiliation – they don’t give me time to explain that I am pro-choice, or that I am a supporter of women’s rights, or that I am an advocate against mass incarceration and strict voter identification laws, or that the majority of my research in college has been dedicated to finding a solution for felony disenfranchisement. They don’t let me tell them that I encouraged every single person to vote, not just people who I knew would vote similarly to me. Instead, the negative things that a few people from my party have said are all that stick with me. Let me remind my readers again: what is true of an individual is not always true of the group.
I would normally prefer to stay out of the discussion about politics, but I could not let this one go. I was thankful that my friend responded to my tweet and asked me to explain my words to her, because we proceeded to have the first and only civil conversation I’ve had this election season with someone who is a member of the opposite party. I am sure that members of the Democratic party feel that Republicans disrespect them, too. Nothing is black and white. However, as I previously mentioned, I can only comment on my own experiences, and I have learned that keeping quiet is the only way to survive being a conservative living and going to school in a primarily blue state.
I don’t mean for this post to attack any liberals or members of the Democratic party. I’m not looking for a response, and I’m definitely not looking for a fight. I only want to tell my readers about my opinions on the results of this election. The last thing my friend said to me during our conversation this morning was:
I admire you for who you are and your views. I hope that today no one treats you differently because at the end of the day we are all the same.
This was the most valuable thing anyone has said to me in regards to my political views in a very long time. This is an example of someone who wanted to know more about the opposing candidate, cordially began a conversation about it, explained their views in a collected and unaggressive manner, respectfully agreed to disagree about certain issues, then finished the conversation by acknowledging that we were equals. I am extremely grateful for people (and friends) like her.
In response to that text, I told her that I appreciated her comment, and that I wasn’t planning on treating any Democrats differently today or any other day. I respect everyone’s opinion, and I hope mine will be respected, too.