Trump’s win tells America that as a nation we are having a heated debate around the word “privilege.”
We liberals either misunderstood, underestimated, or flat-out ignored the different opinions that circulate around that word.
For us, the “privilege” means the pardon that white skin bestows, and the pain inflicted by rigid Christian supremacy. It means acknowledging that many of today’s walking wounded are the result of yesterday’s actions.
But for the quiet electoral majority, whose voice was not given an outlet until Tuesday night, the word “privilege” is anathema. For them, it is an oppressive concept that denies their struggles, curses their values, and undermines their often shredded pride.
We know it to be a word that attempts to amend the past. They know it as a word that aims to destroy the future.
After all, they, the “privileged,” watched as the pundits and the newsrooms highlighted only the foibles of their candidate.
They simmered under the pressure of increased taxes and devalued dollars.
They suffered from inadequate housing, education, and governmental programs.
They watched as their most precious principles of troop support, protection of the unborn, veneration of the Founding Fathers and the everyday heroics of small businesses, were mocked and reviled. In their gloom, they built their support.
And what an abutment the contact of these two world views proved to be. We, the liberals, watched the Trump victory in shock. How could this be? Were we not on the side of the good? Were we not fighting for the poor, the vulnerable, the abused? Were we not better than they?
They will be told that they are to blame. And yet, I wonder whose lack of kindness, whose lack of understanding, and whose lack of charity has led us to this place.
I do not say this to excuse the elevation of a man who is loose with his morals and quick to excuse himself. Nor do I say it to excuse those who voted Trump in based solely on misogyny, racism, or any other sort of malice.
But I do want to ask us, the liberals: What has this election proven us to be?
Laura Rydberg is a graduate student at the St. Kate’s-St. Thomas School of Social Work. The opinions expressed here are solely her own.