Psychologists use the term “cognitive dissonance” to describe the feeling one has when one’s circumstances do not mesh with one’s sense of reality. I felt this cognitive dissonance all through the campaign, bereft of understanding how such a vulgar, inarticulate boob as Donald Trump could gain such support from the American people. Of course, the election threw my sense of reality overboard. Even more so, when one of my dearest friends (a Trump supporter) said, “Now you know how I’ve been feeling these past eight years.”
This friend and I are so much aligned in almost every other view of life on this planet, that her statement caused me to wonder how we had become fond of each other in the first place. Especially when I recalled how when I was on the Mall in Washington during Obama’s inauguration, I sensed such an elevated sense collective joy, hope, and unity. It felt like a massive love-in.
I also believe that Obama has led our country with as much intelligence and integrity as any president can do when met with such concerted congressional resistance. It’s unrealistic to believe that any president can please all the people all the time.
Although Trump supporters are exuberant, I have not sensed any such joy, hope, and unity following Trump’s election — just the same factional sensationalism that pervaded the campaign. Where will my friend and I be in four years? Will we come closer to understanding each other and why our country has spun out to such political extremes? Is civil discourse possible?
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I pray that my apprehensions are not born out and want to remain open to having my reality adjusted. I don’t know any other realistic alternative.