The Day after and I Have Loser’s Remorse


The results of the presidential election came as a shock to many people, including me.  It was startling, not because it could not be foreseen, but because we, the shocked, refused to listen to the people who professed support for Trump.  The information was all there, but the strength of our own narrative simply overwhelmed it.  As the words to an old song ask, “when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?”  Not yet is the short answer, not yet.

Clearly, some lessons are easier to learn than others.  When I was eight my family visited my uncle and his family in San Francisco.  Their apartment was heated by hot air distributed through grates in the floor.  I put my hand on one of the grates and ended up with a red and very painful grid on my hand.  I never put my hand on a floor grate, radiator, heater, stove or even a hot manifold of a car again. Lesson learned.

That lesson was literally burned into my flesh at an early age.  But some other important lessons took me longer to learn.  I was nearly fifty years old before I learned not to gossip about my friends.  In the late 80’s, I had a close friend who had given me very valuable advice several times and I valued her friendship a great deal.  She was beautiful, beauty pageant beautiful; it was not a problem for her, but it turned out to be one for me.  I could not resist telling others some of the details of her private life.  In retrospect it seems I wanted to prove I was an “insider” in her life.  However, when she heard what I had done, I was no longer an insider, in fact I was no longer a friend.  It is a lesson that I hope I have learned as it was seared into my soul the way the pattern of the heater grid had been burned into my flesh.

There is yet a bigger lesson that I have not yet learned regardless of how many times I have experienced the pain.  I listen to my own internal narrative instead of that of other people.  It can be an expensive habit and it is the source of shock over Trump’s election.  The awareness of its importance hit me in the middle of the night after Trump’s acceptance speech.   I woke realizing something I should have learned years ago; my beliefs, feelings and interests are not universal.  In fact, the opposite is true.  I actually belong to the minority; besides being a registered member of losing party, I am part of very small faction of that party.

The point was driven home by a color coded map of the country.  The Atlantic and Pacific coastal states that voted Democratic were in blue, while the rest of the states that voted Republican were depicted in red.  While Hillary may have won the popular vote, Trump and the Republicans won the vast majority of states.  All along I had assumed that people would come to their senses when standing alone in the voting booth and join me in making the right choice.  I had projected my beliefs on the entire population.  Every time I have done that in my life it has been costly and I have done it in business and in my private life.  But apparently the price I have paid has not yet been high enough for me to learn my lesson.

Worse than projecting my views on others, I had not listened when they talked.  Every time I encountered opinions that differed from my own I turned away or rationalized.  Of course they were mistaken, flawed, being manipulated or misquoted.  I did not consider the possibility that a majority of the country could or would support Donald Trump.  “I mean, after all, haven’t they heard, don’t they know?” However, in the middle of that night with no one around I was forced to admit I know nothing of other people.  I know only my thoughts and always assume with either arrogance or stupidity or both that everyone agrees with me.  But waking up to Donald Trump as president of the United States leaves no room for that assumption, does it?

It is not just my problem and my lesson to learn; it is the problem of the political elite of both parties, but particularly the Democrats.  This is the 21st century and the 20th century parties and agendas are no longer valid.  It is a fact that shocked many people just as it did me.  All of my life as a white American male, I have been part of the majority.  I associated with the Baby Boomer generation and as such have shared with that generation the control of the economy and at least part of the time, the government.  But when I got out of bed on Wednesday morning, I knew that I was not part of any majority. As an old white man who traditionally has voted as my grandfather voted for the Democratic Party I am part of a powerless majority.

 It should not have come as surprise to me, but it did.  Millions of people voted for Trump, not because they are racists or separatists, but because they are not happy with their lives, the economy, the major political parties and the “state” of the country.  I might have known that had I ever learned to listen to other people instead of listening to my own internal monologue.  I do not think I am alone at this point; I think much of the Democratic Party is in the same position.  And if the Democratic Party is ever to win an election, it had best start to listen to other people and not just its own narrative.  Remember it was just four years ago that the Republican Party was doing the same soul searching.  It is not uncommon for losers in an election, it is loser’s remorse and I have it.

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