Where do we go from here?


Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live

Kate McKinnon’s opening this week was one of the best SNL moments ever. (Watch it to the end.)

In this week’s historic election upset, I was on the losing side. Where do I go from here? Where do we go from here?

This is the course I’ve mapped out. If your views are similar to mine, I encourage you to join me. If they’re different, I hope — in the interest of constructive dialog — that you’ll discover what’s important to me and what’s not important, like finding fault or throwing bricks.

Listen and learn

I want to understand the vast majority of Trump voters who aren’t racists, neo-Nazis, or anything like that. They’re people with legitimate grievances: they believe that our government is broken and that no one is protecting their interests. I might disagree with them, but I’ll never have a dialog with them — let alone change their minds — if I don’t first listen to them.

Give the president-elect a chance to succeed

When Barack Obama became president in 2009, some of his opponents made his failure their mission. Mitch McConnell said it in so many words. They were wrong, and now that the shoe is on the other foot, we can’t repeat their error. Donald Trump will be our president: we ought to want our president to bring about good.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about silent acquiescence. When President Trump proposes things that I disagree with, when he does things that diminish us as a nation, I’ll call him on it. And especially, I will…

Stand up for my fellow Americans

Let’s all pledge to stand in solidarity with women, immigrants, Muslims, and people of color whenever they’re threatened, whenever their worth and their basic dignity are attacked. Hateful, frightening things were said during the campaign: we can’t dismiss them as merely political rhetoric.

Defend the freedom of the press

Traditional journalism has been in retreat for a generation, because the marketplace for news is changing. Now it’s also coming under attack from from people who have no compunction about publishing lies and from government officials who feel free to threaten and disparage reporters.

Thomas Jefferson knew the importance of a free press. With him, I stand “for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.”

Keep the faith

Just because my candidate lost, the things I believe in — progress, equality, inclusiveness — are no less valuable and no less worth fighting for. I won’t forget the words of Martin Luther King: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Maybe the arc is longer than I thought, but the words are as true today as they’ve ever been.

What do you think? Whether you’re on the winning side or the losing side, where do you plan to go from here?

9 thoughts on “Where do we go from here?

  1. Marcia Riefer Johnston

    Thanks for putting your thoughts and feelings into words, Larry, and for sharing that video.

    Many of us are reeling from the realization that so many people have some kind of vision of America that, for them, justified voting for Trump. The streets of downtown Portland, my city, have been full of people reeling from this realization, protesters (most of them peaceful, some of them not) who’ve been out there every night since the election in such numbers that public transportation has been paralyzed. Every night, all night. And Portland is not alone.

    What do you do with a reality that seems unacceptable?

    Protesting, lashing out is one way to respond. Another is to turn that anguish inward and let it eat us up or shove us into depression.

    The Serenity Prayer was created for moments like these. It’s hard to accept some things we cannot change. It’s hard to change the things we can. It’s hard to know the difference.

    After struggling this last week, I’m almost there with the acceptance part.

    As for changing the things I can, I’ve been mulling the possibility of some type of political activism. Instead, I’ve chosen something closer to my heart. Yesterday, signed up to volunteer for an organization—Landmark Education—that does transformational work empowering people to create breakthroughs in their own lives and to have inspiring impact on the world. My family and I have benefited ourselves in immeasurable ways from their courses in recent years, and we’ve seen remarkable things come from others who have participated in the courses. The time is right for me to pay it forward.

    1. Ed

      This was well-written, Larry, and I agree with you. Unlike Marcia, I seem to not have hit acceptance yet. My problem is that we have been doing all the things you suggested all along, and still ended up with President-Elect Trump. My greatest concern – which may be techcomm-related – is that we’ve seen the end of facts and critical thinking. The things I’ve seen on my Facebook feed have often been easy to refute if people just tried to check the sources – and I live in a (still) solidly blue state. I hope things don’t end up as bad as they appear a week after the shocking election result.

  2. Larry Kunz Post author

    Thanks, Ed. I agree with you that facts and critical thinking are under siege. (I even wrote about it a couple of years back.) I hope all of us will ask ourselves what we can do to reverse the trend. Perhaps, as you suggest, technical communicators can help lead the way.

  3. Pingback: The gaslighting of America | Leading Technical Communication

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