I don't want to talk politics. I really don't. During this past year, I had people say to me or, at least, very near me, that people were horrible, awful, terrible people if they voted...
Not third party
"Anyone who votes for Clinton is a horrible person."
"If you vote for Trump, you're a racist."
"Vote third party. It's the only option in this election and you're part of the problem if you don't."
"If you vote third party, you're wasting your vote and giving it to ___________."
Here's what I think though. I think, on a sweepingly large scale, our country has lost the ability to empathize, to understand why someone votes a certain way. Obviously, I've been thinking about this for awhile. Well, for two months anyway.
I maintain that I'm still really angry about the options the Republican Party and the Democratic Party gave me. I was politically kicking and screaming for the better part of a year. But it was what it was. And it is what it is.
In the aftermath, I still want to be a person of integrity. I still want to love others. In many ways, I consider myself an artist--even though I never really did much with my art beyond college. The reason I love the theatre so much is because it conveys the human experience, one moment at a time. One person at a time. One idea at a time. It helps us understand people who think differently than we do.
Do I understand why people are afraid of Trump? Yes. I do.
Do I understand why people were afraid of Clinton? Yes. I do.
I know amazing people who passionately or grudgingly voted for Clinton and my life is richer for having them in it. I know incredible people who passionately or grudgingly voted for Trump and my life is better because they are in it. I know great individuals who voted third party and my life is sweeter because they are my friends.
We need to be able to look past our own fear and into the lives and hearts of people who don't vote the way we do. We need to realize that, generally speaking, roughly half the country is always sad or angry or appalled with the outcome of an election. I have voted in five elections. More often than not, the candidate I've selected is not the candidate who ends up sitting in the oval office. It's neither here nor there how I've felt about Bush, Obama, and Trump. What is here and there is how I love people.
Ultimately, my one vote makes very little difference. Especially since I reside in a state that is always, decidedly, red. And at the end of the day, at the end of my life, I don't think it'll much matter who I voted for. What will matter is how I loved people. Sometimes, how we love people is seen most evidently in the way we care about those who are different.
Regardless of how you voted (and how you feel about the electoral college), these are the numbers I found--
That is a lot of people with very different opinions. They ALL have a story. From the blue collar farmer in Iowa to the Wall Street stock trader. From the black man to the white one. From the single mom to the Texas house wife. From the immigrant to the Native American. Our stories are different so we vote differently. But empathy SHOULD remain.
On Sunday night, at the Golden Globes, Meryl Streep used her speech time, essentially, to talk politics. I respect her right to use the time however she'd like. I respect her freedom of speech. But, personally, I almost never want to hear actors getting political. However, she did say something at the end of her speech that I want to quote.
"...we have to remind each other of the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy." It is a privilege and it is a responsibility. The world is not black and white. We must have empathy for all: for minorities and majorities, for the disabled, for those with different religious beliefs, for those on the other side of the vote. For all.
And one last thing because it is my blog and I can say what I want. President-elect Trump, you are free to disagree with Ms. Streep. You are free to defend yourself however you'd like on Twitter or in any other forum (although I truly wish you'd stop). You are welcome to your opinions on policy and business and, even, acting. But I am free to my opinion that you are wrong. Regardless of whether Ms. Streep shares your politics or mine, she is not overrated. She is the greatest female actor of our time. And, in the words of Miranda Priestly, "That's all."