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Trump and the Blue Gold dress

Trump and the Blue Gold dress

We all remember the internet sensation where a photograph of a dress was posted, and across the country we found that some people saw a white dress with gold trim and others saw a blue dress with black trim. Gazing on the same object we clearly saw what we saw and were baffled that someone else saw it differently. For most optical illusions, like the classic two-faces in profile vs. a vase, if you stare at the image long enough your mind will flip to the other image. What made the blue gold dress an especially interesting optical illusion was that our biological makeup prevented us from seeing the object through the lens of the other group no matter how long we stared at it.

I see a similar phenomenon going on in our country right now between the Trump supporters who I will call the “Golds” and the non-supporters who I will call the “Blues.”

Both the Golds and the Blues are comprised of many subgroups. I will focus on just two of these for each. The Golds are made up largely of “The Middles.” These are working class and rural Americans living for the most part in the south and all across the middle of the country. Many are skilled, non-college educated workers who for the past fifty years have seen it become harder and harder to afford a home, raise a family, and pay for health care. Even for dual income households, many are living paycheck to paycheck and sending their children to their local college is a struggle. An archetype of this family can be seen in the fictional characters on the show “The Middle.” These past eight years under the Obama administration, despite gains in equal rights, affordable healthcare for those in poverty, moving forward on prison reform, and a thriving tech industry, have done little to benefit them. Golds are the “people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change.” [1]

The other Gold subgroup is a tiny yet vocal faction. These I’ll call the “Deplorables,” they feel abused, powerless, enraged, and entitled and are energized and empowered by abusing others, the most vulnerable among us. These are the people who are openly and proudly “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic”… spewing… “offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric.” [1] An archetype for the Deplorable is Derek Vinyard from the film “American History X.” Like this character, the Deplorable has a difficult life and limited opportunity, has pinned his frustrations on people who cannot fight back, and are lost but, I believe, not irredeemable.

The Blues are also made up of subgroups. If you think about Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs and motivators, whereas the Golds (Middles) fall somewhere in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy, the Blues fall at the two opposite ends of the spectrum. At one end of the spectrum you have the marginalized population. This population is struggling for basic physiological needs, like food and shelter, for safety, and for citizenship. For some in the Marginalized group incarceration and drug addiction have decimated communities. In this group are those who live with the challenges of disabilities. Finally, the Marginalized population includes those for whom the fundamental freedoms and rights are not a given, including the right to worship freely without harassment and to marry, to be seen as valuable and equal.

The other Blues subgroup I will call the Advantaged. Those in this group are the multi-generational college educated, living in safe neighborhoods, in comfortable housing, with 401K retirement plans. Many have been riding the high tech boon wave either through jobs or the stock market for several years. Many are working demanding high-stress jobs, contributing a myriad of taxes, paying off huge debt for their kids’ private college, and are highly motivated by the fulfillment of their talents and potential. Their concerns include improving the human condition, working toward human rights and animal welfare, fighting social injustice, and protecting the planet for future generations. In addition to providing for their families, some of the struggles for the woman in this group are equal pay, a voice at the table, and a place of leadership.

The Blues and the Golds have lived in peaceful co-existence for decades. Then, along came Donald Trump. And with this man a great divide arose between the Golds and the Blues. Like the blue gold dress, both groups came to see the Trump figure in two vastly different ways, and in conceiving their view, found the other view inconceivable. Why is this so? I propose it is due to two interconnected reasons: 1) Trump is a fatally flawed, champion; and 2) our minds are not able to reconcile these two apparently incompatible notions.

First I will attempt to describe the mind and reasoning of the Blue-side, who clearly and only sees Donald Trump as fatally flawed. The Blue position is nicely summed up by the warning that has been appended to each Huffington Post article for the past 18 months.

“Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly _][+incites political violence+] ][_and is a _][serial liar,] [rampant xenophobe,][ racist,][ misogynist ][_and _][birther ][_who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.” [2]]

If you go to any Huffington Post writings about Trump you can click on the underlined links for more data and details on each of the fatal flaws.

I am a Blue and can give you my own first-hand account of events leading up to and related to my conception of Trump as fatally flawed. Growing up I was a skinny passive kid who liked drawing, animals and adventuring outdoors with my current best friend, whether boy or girl. In junior high I had glasses, braces, wore jeans and “boys” t-shirts, and was still skinny and passive, a perfect target for bullying. The film “Welcome to the Dollhouse” is a good representation of those years in which boys ganged up, called and treated me like a dog, barked at me in the hallways, defaced my drawings that where hung on classroom walls. Teachers did not take notice and if a classmate tried to intervene, the pack would turn on him with renewed vengeance. Some days I would come home from school, take prescription pills that were supposed to be just for when my allergies were bad, crawl between my box spring and mattress and fall into a deep sleep pretending it was a coffin and I’d never have to wake up. I was good at math and strove to emulate my father, an engineer who had unquestioning faith that I could do and be whatever I wanted. As a woman, I was an anomaly at Georgia Tech as well as in the workplace often the only female at the table of engineers and software developers. I knew with each new job, each new project team I’d have to assert myself into the conversation despite being talked over and dismissed to prove all over again that I was valuable asset, an indispensable team member, knowing full-well that onus of dissolving the gender stereotypes and barriers rested squarely on my shoulders.

Then along came Donald Trump who bullied and name called his way through the election. He dismissed as guy talk a tape of him bragging about sexual assault. And his views on women where clear as he called them dogs and slobs, reducing them to a number from one to 10, and saw his own partners’ value primarily in her youthfulness and physical beauty, her having a hot meal on the table when he arrived home from work, and her role in single-handedly raising their children.

As a Blue, I saw with tunnel vision precision Donald Trump’s failings. His bullying and relegating woman to lower status than men activated long dormant pain bodies both as a bullying victim and as a woman engineer, and I could see how his actions and rhetoric evoked this same visceral reaction in so many others within the Marginalized populations.

As a Blue, I never considered Donald Trump as a viable candidate. The pain that his words and actions invoked prevented me from ever seriously going the next step. I rejected him out of hand. I did not ever consider what he might bring to the table. The only reason that I could fathom that the Golds would support Donald Trump was because they were completely oblivious to the pain he was inflicting, like Trump minimizing or denying it, or that perhaps they, like Trump, found treating others as inferior made them feel superior.

The Golds, on the other hand, saw a completely different Donald Trump. Their primary pain source was of a very different nature from mine. They saw a government in place that was in tuned to the Blues. They saw a government that supported the Advantaged and the Marginalized in making strides in economic prosperity and social equality, but that had forgotten about the Middle.

One Gold from the rural Midwest described her position in this way:

“It’s not the hate that people see in Trump, but the policy from the Democrats that caused [Hillary Clinton’s] loss. When you are from my area and my age you can remember Steel Mills that were seven miles long growing up and now look at gravel fields six miles long. That was the difference, don’t let anyone tell you different.” [3]

[_ Another Gold explains that a lack of diversity in working class rural America contributes to a lack of empathy. He says his home town in Ohio was 97% white, and the first openly gay person he got to know was his roommate when he left home and went to college. “When you grow up in rural America, denying rights to people is an abstract concept.” Their priorities and concerns lie elsewhere. “They are anxious about a changing world and less economic opportunity.”[4] _]

I expect Golds to a much less degree than the Blues consider the Marginalized population as part of their circle of concern and influence. In addition, according to the Pew report Golds consider the issue of racism and sexism to be much less serious than Blues.

[_ Only 6% of Golds agree to the statement, “Racial discrimination is the main reason blacks can’t get ahead” as opposed to 55% of Blues. [5] _]

[_ 31% of Golds agree with the statement, “There are still significant obstacles that make it more difficult for women to get ahead than men.” as opposed to 72% of Blues. [5] _]

I’ve also heard from Gold’s concerns about “abortion once the baby is viable or ‘last minute,’” and that “Most important is who gets in appoints the next judge(s).” [6]

The one issue that unites the Golds is an economical concern:

“I support the Democratic Party’s position on abortion, same-sex marriage, and climate change. But I am a single mother who can’t afford health insurance under Obamacare…I see rural America and ordinary Americans, like me, still struggling to make ends meet, after eight years of the Obama administration.” [7]

[_ This is supported by PEW report data which finds 81% of Trump supporters feel, “Life for people like me today is worse than it was 50 years ago.” (versus 18% of Clinton supports). [5] _]

In Trump, the Golds saw a champion. Someone who came to their town, talked to them face to face, and felt their pain. They saw Trump as a person who was not in the pocket of lobbyist or part of the political machine and promised them real change. Trump’s entire campaign was built upon the recognition that the Golds had been left behind economically and that things were not so great for them anymore.

Once the Golds had latched onto Trump as their champion, they turned a blind-eye to his faults. No matter how egregious his transgressions, it did not alter the fact that he was putting the Middle first, and that by electing him president he might bring about real economic change for them and their families.

With the election of Donald Trump the growing divide between the Blues and the Golds exploded into a vast chasm. The Blue position is clear: “The worst part about Trump isn’t that he’s a racist, sexist, ignorant bigot. It’s that his supporters know that and don’t care.” [8] The Gold position is: “We are not racist, sexist, ignorant bigots. We are putting our economic renewal first. Period.” [9]

In the presidential election aftermath it has been nearly impossible for Blues and Golds to have civil, productive interchange. Both sides are coming from a position of fear and pain. For the Blues, the Trump victory has felt like a sucker punch to decades of equal rights progress. For the Golds, the resistance to this victory feels like a threat to the fulfillment of a promise of much needed economic advancement.

The lack of communication is not because we have incompatible goals, it is because we are too hurt and angry to try to hear where the other side is coming from, understand what they want most, and help them to get it.

Blasé Pascal provided great wisdom in how to argue effectively and come to agreement in the most contentious of circumstances. He said, “When we wish to correct with advantage, and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken, and that he only failed to see all sides.” [10]

This may blow your mind, but just consider the following. If Blues could try to think like Golds and further their agenda and Golds could try to think like Blues and further theirs, perhaps together we could to begin to clean up this terrible mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

What does it mean for a Blue to think like and talk to a Gold?

For a moment put aside the truth that Trump is fatally flawed and explore why the Golds think they’ve been neglected by the political system, need a champion, and how they hope Trump may serve this purpose.

You may want to ask your Gold counterpart: Tell me about you and your situation. How can I better understand the economic plight you’ve been going through over the past 50 years? How do you think the new government can help? How can I help to ensure that this happens?

What does it mean for a Gold to think like and talk to a Blue?

For a moment put aside the truth that Trump is a champion and explore why the Blues think he is fatally flawed and the impact they fear it will have on women and marginalized populations.

You may want to ask your Blue counterpart: Tell me about you and your situation. How can I better understand the plight women and marginalized populations have been going through over the past 50 years? What concerns do you have about the new government compromising progress that has been made? How can I help to ensure that we do not lose ground and continue to make progress in equal rights?

And for both Blues and Golds…Can we all agree that Trump did not win this election because of his racist, sexist, bigoted rhetoric, but in spite of it? Can we agree that this is not who we are as Americans? Can we agree that economic opportunity for all is our most important goal? Can we agree that equal rights for all is our other most important goal? Could we pledge to be kind to one another, respect one another, and work together on both goals? If so, we might just be okay.

REFERENCES

[1] http //www npr org/2016/09/10/493427601/hillary-clintons-basket-of-deplorables-in-full-context-of-this-ugly-campaign

[2] http //www huffingtonpost com/

[3] Anonymous Facebook post

[4] Essay be Patrick Thornton, I’m a Coastal Elite from the Midwest: The Real Bubble is Rural America, www rollcall com, November 10, 2016.

[5] http //www pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/10/20/6-charts-that-show-where-clinton-and-trump-supporters-differ/

[6] Anonymous Facebook post

[7] Essay by Asra Q. Nomani. “I’m a Muslim, a woman and an immigrant. I voted for Trump.” www washingtonpost com, November 10, 2016.

[8] Anonymous Facebook meme

[9] Anonymous Facebook posts

[10] Quote from Blasé Pascal, http //qz.com/778767/to-tell-someone-theyre-wrong-first-tell-them-how-theyre-right/

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Trump and the Blue Gold dress

We all remember the internet sensation where a photograph of a dress was posted, and across the country we found that some people saw a white dress with gold trim and others saw a blue dress with black trim. Gazing on the same object we clearly saw what we saw and were baffled that someone else saw it differently. What made the blue gold dress an especially interesting optical illusion was that our biological makeup prevented us from seeing the object through the lens of the other group no matter how long we stared at it. There is a similar phenomenon going on in our country right now between the Trump supporters, the “Golds,” and the non-supporters, the “Blues.” This essay attempts to represent both sides of the story so that we may listen to one another and together begin to clean up this terrible mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

  • ISBN: 9781370463800
  • Author: Donna Anastasi
  • Published: 2016-11-14 03:05:14
  • Words: 2762
Trump and the Blue Gold dress Trump and the Blue Gold dress