Election Reflection: Sharing Opinions on the 2016 Presidential Race

On November 23rd IndyStar editorial Board members Suzette Hackney and Tim Swarens invited 8 Indianapolis area residents to come speak on the aftermath of this year’s Presidential election. The catch was that this conversation would be happening between four Trump supporters and four Clinton supporters, one of whom was the DTC’s own Managing Director Waseema Ali.

The conversation did not, as some might expect, turn into a tense shouting match between diametrically opposed parties. Rather, what unfolded over the 90 minute conversation was a measured sharing of opinions and ideas by eight people clearly interesting in getting a better idea of the thoughts and fears of the opposing side.

The conversation covered a wide range of topics, from the role of social media in amplifying partisan support, and spreading misinformation, to the idea that the divisive nature of this election left many uncomfortable or even fearful of speaking openly and freely about the candidate they supported. Participants also looked at the way each candidate was attacked by the opposing side, and how those strategies may have played into their underlying fears about the other candidate.

What most of the conversation’s participants seem to have taken away from the conversation was that bringing people together for conversation about their honest thoughts and opinions is going to be the starting point for bridging the divides caused by this election. Further, these conversations need to happen in a way that doesn’t delegitimize the fears and feelings of those on either side. Whether our fears are legitimate or based on an incorrect understanding of an issue or event, when others immediately dismiss these very real feelings, it makes it difficult to believe anyone is truly listening and making an honest attempt to understand a different point of view. This makes finding any common ground to build the future on very difficult.
IndyStar’s recounting of the election conversation’s proceedings can be found at this link.

By: Andrew Weller

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