Electoral Grief and Contribution

Today is either the day our President Elect becomes President, or something bizarre happens, depending on who you talk to. Our Electoral College casts their votes, and we will soon know the 57th President of the United States.

Watching the Pantsuit Nation crowd become absolutely unhinged over the election results is a bizarre sight. They’re almost going through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief over going #WithHer and not getting their way. Chris Matthews nearly went Bible Belt Baptist on election night, muttering with disbelief over President-Elect Trump’s plotted victory. People still can’t believe it happened, and mutter their complete disbelief eight years of identity politics were dismantled in one night. That’s textbook denial over a month after Election Day.

The anger soon followed. Cries of #NotMyPresident rang across the nation. Here in my beloved Scruffy City we had protests of “Brick by Brick, Wall by Wall, Racism Has Got To Fall.” Some protests on the West Coast turned violent. Even today some remain steadfast in their desire to unleash fury on anyone they feel responsible for a Clinton defeat. Huma Abedin, James Comey, Russia, are all targets of outrage. The potential for mob violence against an elected President is so great it’s costing our country millions of dollars per day in security costs alone, depending where you look.

With every new cabinet pick the media winds up the outrage machine. Hit piece after hit piece cranks out the moment Trump makes a new decision. One wonders if Trump, the target of immense ridicule and scorn from the press the moment he announced his candidacy, isn’t enjoying fucking with the media every day. Want to make folks upset over education? Put someone in the cabinet who loves private and charter schools. Want to get the labor crowd unhinged? Get the guy from Carl’s Jr. in as Labor Secretary. Housing and Urban Development? Ben Carson. You’d think they’d get tired after continually expressing so much outrage to the point they “literally can’t even” and move on.

It seems as if the dedicated are working their way through bargaining and depression at the same time. Many turned to the Electoral College and asked daily for electors to “vote their conscience.” Some did so kindly. Others resorted to death threats. Another bargaining tactic involved Russia again once a report allegedly linked the nation to some sort of interference through “hacking” in an attempt to make Trump President. That led the push to hold off the Electoral vote until an “independent investigation” could conclude and the Electors informed on just what cybercrime, if any, influenced the election.

Depression comes in the form of some announcing their loss of finding a partner with a Trump Presidency. Others actually filed divorce proceedings when they learned a spouse voted for Trump. Kate McKinnon, the SNL actress portraying Secretary Clinton, appeared on the show the Saturday after Election night in a white pantsuit singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in what appeared as a gesture of mourning. McKinnon would return to the show on December 17 in a disgusting spoof of the film “Love Actually” begging the electors to not vote Trump.

What the folks going through these stages of grief don’t understand or grasp is the root cause of why their side lost. They have yet to reach a point in their own personal grasp of the election called “contribution.” That term comes from a book called “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen. It refers to a person’s acceptance of what they did, however small, to cause a certain outcome.

It’s easy for us to engage in “naming and blaming” according to Stone, Patton and Heen. We do this all the time. Identify the source of what we personally feel is the problem at the center of our lives and then assign a level of blame to the subject. Our blame may be justified. What takes time and effort is the “contribution,” because it requires you to look in the mirror and figure out what you personally did, however small, to contribute to the issue that caused the dispute.

For those grieving that a woman president isn’t getting election results confirmed today, the contribution factor could vary. It could be a sense of outright hubris, that the “most qualified candidate” didn’t get her way into the White House. It could be apathy, since so many people stayed home during voting hours. It could be a failure to grasp some people care more about jobs than who used what bathroom. Your mileage may vary.

Until the grieving understand why they feel how they feel, they will only remain in misery. The rest of us will move on.