Have We Ever Really Listened?

Forewarning, this is going to get political. If you are the type of person that is quickly offended by differing political viewpoints, this probably isn't for you.

I didn't vote for Barak Obama in 2008. I didn't vote for Donald Trump last week. And even thought I didn't vote for Donald Trump and have some serious reservations about his ability to hold the office of President of the United States, he is our President Elect. He deserves the respect that a President should be given, and, in my opinion, he deserves my support even though I didn't vote for him.

I stayed up last week and was really shocked by the results. And it takes a lot to shock me. I couldn't believe that a person so brash, that made up facts up mid-sentence, without any political experience, who said so many outlandish things, would be elected to the Presidency. I believed that Hillary Clinton was going to going to carry some Regan type numbers and blow him out of the water. When Florida went Trump's way I put my drink down and started to pay attention to the results. When Trump came out at two in the morning and stated that Hillary Clinton had conceded the race, I sat there with my mouth wide open completely shocked.

Then I started to drink again. Heavily.

And I've spent the last week going over in my head wondering how I could have been so wrong. I'm by no means a political junkie, but I do pay attention and would consider myself well-read, and somewhat informed. I mean, I knew Aleppo was a city in Syria that was a focal point of the Syrian Civil War. (C'mon Gary Johnson! Why did you have turn into such a weirdo! I was pulling for you in July!)

The other night, I realized why I was so utterly shocked that Trump won. I stopped listening to him and what he was saying. And more importantly, I stopped listening to family, friends, and co-workers that were supporting him.

All I heard was, "I grab them by the pussy." Or the hundred other deplorable things he's said during the election season.

I only heard what I wanted to hear, to justify my position and vote. I definitely didn't hear 60,526,852 people who voted for Trump. Looking back I probably tuned them out months ago.

Which got me thinking even more. When did I stop listening to the other side? And, did the people that voted for Trump ever listen to me?

Have we ever listened to each other?

I think we used to. I hope we used to.

In forty one years I've never seen the country so divided. The same people that were dancing in the streets celebrating President Obama's election eight years ago are now back in those same streets protesting President Elect Trump. The same staunchly conservative friends of mine that were posting the meme, "If Hillary wins we're going to party like it's 1776" with a picture of George Washington threatening a revolution on social media, are now putting up posts about how the protesters need to accept Trump's victory and get out of the streets.

One of my favorite movies, Tombstone, stars Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday. One of his great lines in that movie is, "It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds."

I say that admitting mine doesn't either. I've said for years that I vote the candidate, not the party, and educate myself on both sides before I make a decision. Obviously that didn't happen or I wouldn't have been so out of touch with sixty million voters and so shocked by Trumps victory. Apparently, my hypocrisy is boundless as well.

Which brought me to my final thoughts on this election.

Who benefits from the voters not listening to opposing sides? I don't. You don't. My friends and your friends don't. The one hundred and twenty million people who voted in this past election don't. If nobody benefits from tuning out the other side, why have we done it? Why are we so divisive?

Then I thought about where I get my news from, and to be honest, this makes me sad because I don't know what the answer is.

Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow benefit from us being divisive.

Bill Maher and Bill O'Reilly benefit from us being divisive.

Sean Hannity and Van Jones benefit from us being divisive.

MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, CNBC,  they all profited from this divisive election.

There is a clear loser when a person is on one side of a political argument and refuses to acknowledge and actually listen to the other side. And it's not any of our current news sources, commentators, pollsters, political experts, or op-ed writers. They are all winners in this battle. And the funny thing is they win no matter what side of the political argument they were on. Even if their candidate lost the election, they win.   

Which brings me back to my final point. Who is the loser when the country is so divided? Who loses by not listening to the other side?

We do. The real loser is the American voter.