I’m seeing so much being written about the gaps in America (and the world, for that matter) right now; the gaps in political view, the gaps in equality, and the gaps in beliefs. And it’s true, we all have a fundamental right to our own ideas and beliefs, but what we’ve failed to do is understand or objectively discuss with other people their beliefs and ideas, and in doing so we’ve allowed The Other, this sensationalized monster of people who aren’t us, to become a mainstream figure.
I came across this article by Andrés Miguel Rodón, How to Culture Jam a Populist in Four Easy Steps, where he compares Trump to Chávez, his points are painfully valid and eye opening. While I see my social media peers posting their ideas, beliefs and frustrations and although I deeply appreciate the knowledge that I am not alone in my beliefs, I have been challenged to resolve how to bridge the gap between my beliefs and those who feel very differently. What Rodón points out in his article is that by not bridging the gap, I am the enemy in so many people’s minds; I am the elite and not the victim, I am the swamp that Trumps wants to drain. I have nothing in common with The Other.
But that isn’t the case. Just as Rodón states, by reaching out to The Other and by finding common ground we can disarm the populist platform. We can disarm Trump’s entire platform. That gives me hope that inspires me. And I’ve seen this in action; my brother and my husband have radically differing views on almost everything; from eating meat, to guns, to politics, they are polar opposite. But during the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle they found common ground and in discussing their similar views, they found respect for each other. They still discuss politics with each other to this day and those discussions are very different than they were before 1999.
With the recent executive order banning entry into the US of immigrants, I too have found common ground with politicians I never expected to agree with; I mean, Dick Cheney of all people. The list of Republican politicians who have spoken out against the executive order is heartening. And yes, I will call them to thank them for voicing their views, because that too, helps bridge the gap. We need to acknowledge our commonality. We need to de-sensationalize the frenzy around The Other. We need to come together as a country to rebuild this country to what is Great means for all of us.