Home/Rod Dreher/Living Under Punches

Living Under Punches

A reader writes:

My classmates and professor were crying in class yesterday morning. Even sobbing. My Prof was so shook up (her words) she opens class with this: “I cannot give the lecture this morning. We all need to have a talk about the election from last night cause I know you all are in mourning like I am.” So they circled their desks (I did too, cause I’m compliant in the face of liberals looking for a scapegoat), and they all had a cry-fest.

I just sat there, astonished: “If all this was flipped–Hillary won, Trump lost–would she be letting the Trump voters have–what literally felt like–a wake in memorial of their fallen candidate?! Absolutely not!” It was astonishing. So I had to sit through two hours of this veiled “discussion” on the wayward “direction of our country” and pretend like I was sad. Because if I said WORD ONE that I wasn’t sad, I guarantee you my classmates would never look at me the same again. A few students said they ended a number of friendships because they found out their friends supported Trump.

Then, a girl in class says, “I just feel like there are so many uneducated voters that don’t represent me that voted and changed this whole election.” Implication: You should only be able to vote if you have a college degree. Question: When’s the last time we as America based voting on the citizen’s education level? Jim Crow/Reconstruction era, when you had to be able to write you name to vote, and, as emancipated slaves could not do that, they were denied voting. So she says this, and EVERYONE in class nodded their headed in full agreement with her. She prefers a return to education-based voting a la Jim Crow Era… Yet Trump is the racist?

A liberal reader sends in this link to a post by a Pennsylvania college student named Cassie Hewlett. It reads:

I am not racist. I am not homophobic. I am not sexist. I am not a misogynist. I am for free market. I am for stronger foreign policy. I am for small business. I am for my family. I am Republican.

With the results of the presidential election stirring up a vast amount of emotions, I think it is important to clarify something: just because I am Republican does not mean I am heartless. The point of this is not to debate political policies. It is to highlight what it felt like to be a Republican college student the day after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.

On November 9th, I went to class and in every single one there was a somber attitude. Pre-lecture discussions were filled with phrases like “I am scared for our future”, “I am scared to be gay”, “How did this happen?”, and, by far the most bothersome, “People that voted for Trump are racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic selfish red necks”. Even my professors opened class with the assumption that everyone was sad about the result of the election by saying things like, “let’s not talk about last night. Ever.” or “No class on Friday. I’m house hunting in Canada.”

Well, I was not sad. While I understand that many people found the result disheartening, I am happy that the Republican party is in office for the next four years. I am happy that trade and markets will once again be free. I am happy that we are going to attack terrorism more aggressively instead of being walked all over. I am happy that jobs will be brought back into the United States. I am happy that small business owners will finally be able to reap the benefits of hard work and dedication. I am happy that I voted in my first presidential election as a Republican.

With that said, I am not racist, sexist, misogynistic, or homophobic. My parents decided to raise my siblings and me closer to the city so that we did not grow up sheltered and ignorant of the diverse world around us. I have never once felt that I could not date or befriend someone because of their race, ethnicity, or gender identity. For that, I am forever grateful to my parents for the way they raised me.

The response to this election has made me, and many other college students who voted Republican, feel that we need to hide or downplay our satisfaction over our victory because of the fear that our opposing peers will label us. That is not right. The controversy surrounding both candidates during this election took voting based on character out of the question. In my opinion, neither candidate has outstanding character.

Silencing those who simply exercised their right to vote in our free nation violates the core principles for which our country stands. I am by no means saying that those who were not happy with the results of the election do not have the right to mourn. They absolutely do. However, I am saying that those who are content with the results should feel safe in expressing their joy and optimism for the future of this country without the fear of being ostracized.

I am a Republican. I still care. I am not heartless.

I received a wonderful e-mail tonight from an African-American reader who told me she lives in a very white area of the Northeast, and is not a Trump supporter. There’s a young conservative in her workplace who is not a Trump supporter either, but she said that he is not being listened to because it’s known that he’s a Republican, so everybody has shut him out and shut him down. She feels empathy for him, being an outsider herself because of her race. I thought reading this, wow, what a human moment. Good for her.

I also got an e-mail tonight from a Muslim reader who expressed how hard it is for him and his wife to understand how a neighbor of theirs whom they really like, and who likes them, voted for Trump — a candidate who wants to police innocent Muslims like them. I’ve asked him for permission to publish a version of his letter, edited to protect privacy. It was important for me to read his e-mail, and to put myself in his position. He’s not freaking out and saying that Triple-Hitler is upon us. He’s genuinely troubled, mystified, and worried for the future; if conservatives like me can’t empathize with that at some level, something is wrong with us. (I’ll write more about this if he gives me permission to post a modified version of his letter.)

And if liberals can’t empathize with what it’s like to be that young conservative in the workplace, or these conservative students on campus right now, something is wrong with them.

We should all be like that African-American reader who wrote me. It doesn’t mean you’ve abandoned your principles if you try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

leave a comment

Latest Articles