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To Those Who Are Afraid After the Election…

Demonstrators burn the U.S. flag outside Trump Tower during a march against President-elect Donald Trump in Manhattan, New York, U.S. November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Demonstrators burn the U.S. flag outside Trump Tower during a march against President-elect Donald Trump in Manhattan, New York, U.S. November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly (from HuffingtonPost.com)

I’ve noticed that posts and comments since election day have been only mildly less vitriol than before the election. The difference now, however, is that instead of warnings about the damage so-and-so would cause the country if he or she is elected, they now revolve around what seems to be a personal fear about what will happen January 20th, as though that is the date set for the end of the world. There seems to be so much fear that in some quarters, it has translated into a hatred that is driving people to the streets in protest.

At first, I assumed these posts were just more of the fear-mongering that the left perpetrated throughout the election (and I believe some still are) but as I listened better, I realized that there are some genuine fears out there. I think that much of what people are reacting to is what has been instilled by the political campaign rhetoric that has tainted this presidential election. Opponents of both candidates have warned about the calamity that would come if the other candidate is elected and now we see that being translated into real concern that all of the warnings they have heard  from their side will come to pass in the worst way possible. I have to admit, if I believed all of the political sound bites, I’d be scared too.

What I would imagine frustrates those who are experiencing real fear (and those trying to support them) is the fact that people on the other “side” seem to discount their fears while they admonish them to just accept the will of the people and unite behind the new president. In defense of the other side, I don’t think that most of them don’t care  about those who are afraid, but rather they just don’t understand why anyone would be afraid, seeing things through the filter of the “right.” On the flip side, I think those who are struggling with the outcome of the election are also viewing things through their own filter, preventing them from seeing what the right sees as reality. What I want to try to do now is remove, or at least reduce, that filter in hopes that I can relieve some of the fear some of my friends may be experiencing by explaining what those on the right are actually thinking. Of course, I can only speak from my own knowledge and experience.

Immigration. One of the fears that I have heard from friends and television commentators is that immigrants are going to be immediately separated from their families and deported while others will be restricted from entry into the U.S. Compounding those fears, by some reports, are Trump supporters who have been emboldened by an election win, “terrorizing” anyone who even looks like an illegal immigrant, urging them to pack their bags and leave the country. There’s no making excuses for people’s prejudice and their showing disrespect to anyone, but what everyone needs to realize is that they don’t represent the entire Republican party or anyone else who may have conservative views on immigration.

The truth is, regardless of one’s views on immigration, there’s little chance that anyone would support the tearing apart of families when some of them my be legally in the U.S. While deportation may be stricter on those who aren’t here with family or who have committed serious crimes, more likely than not, any new immigration legislation would provide a route to becoming a legal resident to avoid the splitting up of families and the expense of mass deportations. So who should be afraid of Trumps immigration policies? I think only those who have committed violent crimes or present a serious risk to law and order. Besides all of that, as Trumps campaign advanced, he backed off of full-blown deportations.

LGBT Rights. Another big fear is one that has been very much in the news for the last several years, the rights of the LGBT community in the United States. Some are afraid that their marriage certificates will become worthless and they’ll lose the legal rights given to them through marriage. They fear that President Trump will, with the stroke of a pen, nullify all of the rights the courts have given them over the past few years. While many on the right do view homosexual acts as sinful and thus homosexual marriage as morally wrong, the expectation that current rights will be taken away is a stretch. There is little to no evidence that any new legislation or any court decisions having been overturned ever resulted in a retroactive removal of previous granted rights. That is to say that if a couple is legally married today, the overturning of any court decision that made that marriage legal would not make their marriage illegal, but only future marriages. So while LGBT rights advocates may have reason to fear the future of some so-called rights, they shouldn’t fear the removal of rights already granted through legally obtained marriages.

A surprising fear that I have heard related to the LGBT community is that “conversion therapy” will be mainstreamed, subjecting gays to inhumane treatment in an effort to “fix” their homosexuality. This caught me by surprise because I thought the success of conversion therapy had long-since been debunked. Additionally, the idea of forcing any kind of treatment on an unwilling subject is the stuff of Nazi Germany, not 21st century United States. One of the selling points of the Trump Train was individual rights. It’s not likely that a foundational right like would be violated with forced medical or psychological treatment would ever come to fruition.

Obamacare. Otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, the “repeal” of Obamacare creates another fear in some people, afraid that they will lose their insurance or coverage while they suffer with illness or injury. The idea of repeal without replacement could be worrisome, but while most of the time when President-elect Trump talked about Obamacare he only talked about its repeal (as have most other Republican candidates this election season) at least once he said that with the repeal will come a replacement plan that will take better care of American citizens than Obamacare did…and cheaper. Additionally, Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, has talked about a replacement plan that the Republicans have ready to go to improve on what Obamacare tried to accomplish. And just like any other insurance plans, if one is replaced by another, preexisting conditions would be covered since the insured didn’t have a choice in the change in plans.

Abortion. One of the most defining issues among people on the right also brings fear to those on the left. The fear comes from the idea that the government will remove their right to make decisions about their own bodies, which is a foundational right (as mentioned above in the discussion about conversion therapy) and if threatened, Americans should be afraid of their loss of rights. However, this fear is more based on differing political views than on personal rights. People who oppose abortion do not view it as a choice about the mother’s body, but the baby’s, thus making abortion illegal protects the rights of the baby not remove the rights of the mother. But I think the left already knows how the right thinks about that.

Still, Republicans and Trump are very vocal about overturning Roe v. Wade which would remove what the left views as a right; but after 43 years, the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. What I think the Republicans will try to accomplish is the limiting of abortions to only earlier in the pregnancy, mandating the notification of parents of underage children seeking an abortion and removing federal funding of most abortions. Abortions needed to preserve the life or health of the mother or in the case of rape or incest will likely continue to be widely accepted and funded. The left does have a valid argument that it seems like the abortion rate goes down with Democrats in office, primarily because more funding goes to prevention among those more dependent. Republicans need to take this into consideration and be more involved in underprivileged health care and pregnancy prevention. But, to be afraid that suddenly women will not be able to make decisions about their own bodies will not happen, and even about early-term abortions is unlikely.

Climate Change. This may be the fear that I most don’t understand. Maybe it’s not so much a fear as a frustration, but still a hot topic for those lamenting today. It seems like people on the left believe those on the right just don’t care about the planet while people on the right believe that those on the left have bought into irrational fears of global destruction. I can’t speak for everyone on the right, but I don’t think that the majority completely deny global warming. They may question the extent, but global statistics through the years do indicate a change in climate. I think that most (at least some) believe that global warming is not man-made. Geological and archeological scholarship shows that the natural ebb and flow of the earth’s climate brings about a cooling and warming of the planet. For example, when I was in Iraq, I saw satellite images that revealed an additional two rivers (which, by the way, are mentioned in the Bible as flowing into the Garden of Eden along with the Tigris and Euphrates) clearly visible in the Persian Gulf which at one time were flowing through dry land. I also visited the ancient city of Ur, near Basrah, which in its heyday was a port city. Now it’s many miles from the coast. These show a natural movement of waters as a result of global warming and cooling. A natural, repeating occurrence in Earth’s history.

Regardless of how we view climate change, how we treat the planet continues to be contentious. Reconciling the issues of planet-care is not likely because how we view the use and mining of fuel is so different. One group sees retrieving and using fossil fuels as detrimental to the planet while others view the impact to the planet as less detrimental compared to the expense of alternatives and the harm to developing countries who can’t afford the development and use of alternative fuels.  Bottom line, there will never be agreement on our approach to fueling American’s thirst for a lifestyle that requires massive amounts of fuel but it shouldn’t cause a debilitating fear for either side, only impetus to communicate with each other and work together toward acceptable compromise.

Hate & Bigotry. There is no denying that some of the things that President-elect Trump said during the campaign can be viewed as hateful or bigoted. Especially early on, it seems like he often spoke off the cuff without putting much thought to his words. As the campaign progressed, however, he did begin to show better restraint and sensitivity to others and some of his comments that the left uses as examples of his hate and bigotry are simply taken out of context or magnified beyond the original significance. At any rate, Trumps words  do not justify any hate or bigotry that may continue to be spewed by others. Additionally, people make their own decisions and are responsible for their own words and actions just as Trump is responsible for his. Should people be fearful? I don’t think so. The introduction of a more uncouth President does not increase the number of hateful and bigoted people in our country, they’ve always been there. The likelihood of any supposed hate or bigotry residing within the new president influencing domestic or foreign policy is also very low. While the president has a lot of power, he does not govern alone and the Constitution is still the basis of law. What is needed instead of a return of hateful words is a commitment from both sides to not accept words and actions of hate but speak out against them and behave in ways that make attitudes of hate unwelcome.

I’m not sure if anything that I’ve written has reduced any of the fears some people are feeling but hopefully at least we will better understand where each other are coming from and realize that most people are not against those on the other side. And we care.

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