The Trauma Of Your First Loss

At my alma mater, students held a “cry-in” after the loss. Their world of absolute certainty crashed down around them, because no one ever told them that there would be loss in their lives. The past eight years was under President Obama, the nation’s first black president. And they were still sucking their thumbs when Shrub was last elected.

At Yale, students sought the concession from their Econ 115 professor to cancel his midterm exam. The claim to suffer “fear, rightly or wrongly.” may well be true, as is the pain. They just suffered the first smackdown of their values ever, and this wasn’t possible. They had been told that their values were true, were real, were absolutely right, and therefore there could be no reasonable disagreement. If true, and they believe it with all their being, then this was no more possible than pigs flying. And everybody knows pigs can’t fly.

So it had to be evil that permeated their country. Millions of racists and sexists stole control from them. It had to be. There could be no other explanation that meshed with their world view. The old aphorism, that there were two sides to every story, was a lie. There was no other side. They were right. They had always been right, and would always be right. There could be no higher calling than serving what was right, and it justified doing anything, anything, to achieve what was right.

Donna Brazile, who filled in as head of the Democratic National Committee after Debbie Wasserman Schultz got caught dirty, got caught dirty herself. But she was only contrite about being caught, because her giving debate questions away while (bizarrely) serving as a neutral commentator on CNN may have been cheating in the worst sense of the word, but her cause was just. And righteousness excuses every wrong.

The demographics showed that a majority of minorities voted for Clinton, though a majority of white women (who, it should be noted, are not a minority though they seem to think they are) voted for Trump. They “sold out the sisterhood,” provided you believe the sisterhood is real and the most important thing. But even though Clinton took a great majority of the minority vote, Trump did better than Romney amongst blacks and Hispanics. None of this made any sense, as pigs don’t fly.

There are messages here.  A student at Wesleyan, subject to the indoctrination of social justice, explained his vote for Trump. In large measure, it was the absolutism of social justice that pushed him away, the silencing of heretic views. An op-ed by Phoebe Lett at the New York Times explains that white women failed.

Whatever the cause, the white women of the “pantsuit nation,” as many Clinton supporters call themselves, have some work to do.

They were wrong. They must be made right.

It is time white women start making change within their own circles. White women must talk to their sisters, mothers, colleagues and friends about racism, homophobia, transphobia and ableism. Prejudice must be called out, even in friends. These conversations may become uncomfortable, but so are these election results.

There is a message here, and that message can’t be heard by people who refuse to hear because of their incapacity to grasp that their absolutist world view isn’t shared by all.  The Democratic party once stood for the working man. The Democratic party once stood for equality. The Democratic party now stands for a radicalism that has driven liberals away, and neither the children nor the extremists get it.

Classic liberals believed in, fought for, sought equal rights for women and minorities. They weren’t against a woman president, as the shrews naturally screamed. They were against Hillary Clinton. They were not prepared to sacrifice their beliefs for rearrangement of the social order so that their lives would be on the line for the sake of feminist tears, Ivy League black students crying about the horrifying pain of Halloween costumes or which bathroom a transgender student can use. It’s not that they’re against it, but they have bigger fish to fry. Like whether their children would have jobs when they graduated with a gender studies degree.

Were there racists supporting Trump? Obviously. Misogynists too. But there were also a great many people who had no animus toward anyone. What they did not have is the luxury of college students or academics, dedicated feminists or Black Lives Matter protesters, to ignore where they would go to work the next day.

And your gang had more than its share of nutjobs, liars and violent psychopaths, though you prefer only to point at the other team’s bad actors. People in the middle see both, even as you try to deny their existence. It’s just another thing that makes you look foolish.

Shouting ever louder doesn’t make your cause more persuasive. Riots and protests won’t do it. Lying about being harmed just exacerbates your failing. You won’t win by calling everything a phobia or everyone who disagrees with you “fragile.” But when you scream that classic liberals who believe in equality are racist and sexist, you lose credibility. You are just as intolerant and ignorant as those you despise the most, but you refuse to see it because you wrap yourself up in the righteousness of your views. Just like they do.

The system has failed a great many people, though in ways that have never touched your “privileged” lives as you ponder what words must be forbidden. Telling America that they’re doing great under Obama, and more of the same will be just as great, doesn’t put food on the table or eliminate that monstrous health care deductible. You don’t know of such things, because you’ve never missed a meal, never been unable to go to a doctor when you had an ache or pain.

The efforts to explain how racist and sexist America is appeal to your need for gestalt, but will never change the reality that the rest of a nation endures. It’s not your fault for failing to explain loud and often enough how right you are and how wrong everyone else is. It’s our fault for not throwing you out of the basement and making you learn to survive on your own. Not firing you from your jobs for sucking at them, and instead pretending you aren’t lazy and terminally self-indulgent. You needed to go hungry once in a while, but we just kept feeding you because we loved our children and didn’t want them to suffer. Maybe we were wrong to never force you to grow up.

The Yale professor should have required you to take the test even though you were in pain. Just because you’ve never experienced loss before doesn’t mean now isn’t the time to learn. And you can keep screaming about racism and sexism, because it no longer matters. At Thanksgiving dinner, you will eat our food while telling us how wrong we are. We will still love you as our children, but we will no more be convinced by your childish grasp of the world than we were before.

And just so you know, this isn’t because we voted for Trump, but because we realize that there are people who are good people, hard-working people, not racist or sexist people, who don’t share your absolute certainty that you are right and there can be no other reasonable view of the world. The people who disagree with you aren’t all evil. Until you realize that, you will never be able to understand that losing happens, and it isn’t the end of the world.

Here’s the weirdest thing. A great many of those who don’t share your orthodoxy aren’t so much against you as have other priorities, other concerns, that you have yet to appreciate. Stop driving them away by calling them names and trashing their cars in anger. They aren’t your enemies, but you have made them enemies. Of all the lessons you have failed to learn, this may be the most dangerous. Now eat your peas.

39 thoughts on “The Trauma Of Your First Loss

  1. Max Kennerly

    I was at Yale on 9/11, and we held classes. I had the good fortune of having Peter Marris’ sociology class that day, and he put aside his notes and delivered off-the-cuff one of the best lectures I’ve ever heard. (As his obituary in The Guardian later said, “His research – in Bethnal Green, Lagos, Nairobi, New York and Los Angeles – spanned rich and poor in both industrialised and developing countries. He witnessed human loss of different kinds, and in beautiful prose captured again and again what are the individual and social ramifications of ‘loss and change’ – a theme that became the title of one of his later books.”) So I certainly don’t see any reason to stop the educational process because of external events.

    That said, it’s postponing a midterm. Big whoop.

    1. SHG Post author

      Your personal anecdote is deeply endearing. I hope you have more life experience to share with us, and fill the hole where everyone else has no life experiences worth mentioning.

      It’s not that it’s a “big whoop” to cancel a midterm, but that it’s a “big whoop” for students to be so traumatized that they are incapable of taking a test after an election where their candidate lost. See the difference? I remember when Yale (and Harvard) were the top Ivies. Good times.

  2. DaveL

    I have to admit, the whining of the last two days has made me somewhat embarrassed to call myself a liberal. To protest the outcome of an election before the victor has even taken office is essentially to protest that others have the right to vote against you at all, and that’s a big part of what propelled Trump to victory in the first place. The idea of “checking” one’s privilege has become a buzzword for shutting down opposing points of view, rather than a habit of humility inviting sober introspection. It doesn’t matter what position your ethnicity/sex/religion/sexual identity occupies in the Official Victimhood Ranking chart, being able to attend Yale is a privilege. Being able to skip an exam at Yale so you can mourn not getting your own way is a gobsmacking level of privilege.

    1. SHG Post author

      As you know, I’ve been pounding away at the extremes of rhetoric for quite some time now. It’s not just the Orwellian irony, but that it has killed rational liberalism by the hostility and intolerance toward any view other than the extremes. The question remains whether the kids’ minds have been so poisoned that they will never have the capacity to recognize this, or whether they will be seized by some new political fad that will shift them away from their simplistic truths to a more mature grasp of the world.

      As Bill says below, the people who need to read this post probably won’t. Those who do will scream at me for being such a racists and sexist for not backing them. Not even Michael Moore has the ability to talk to them any more. Maybe their crazy uncle can explain it to them at Thanksgiving, but can they shut up long enough to listen? They haven’t yet.

      1. Jim Tyre

        As Bill says below

        Someone has hijacked SHG’s account. The one true SHG would never rely on a comment by Bill. Either that, or we have a new sign of the apocalypse. (BTW, reports of several law schools unduly coddling their snowflakes after the thing, including some Ivy law schools. But I doubt that’s a shock.)

  3. Billy Bob

    How can you have any dessert if you don’t eat your meat? A friend recently suggested that I (we) go back to my (our) alma mater and put in a request for refund of tuition. Not a bad idea!

    For the Record: I (we) attended four colleges and graduated from two of them. The idea being, the more colleges you attend, the smarter you become. Or did we get it backwards? I (we) subsequently “graduated” from AA, which is a college too. Sort of, if you think about it? A “graduate school”, so to speak, and a good place to meet single, college-educated women, if you catch our drift? Nice essay, perfect timing!

    The folks who need to read this essay, in all probability, will not. That is the pity of it. The country most likely will muddle thru, with or without Mr. Trump. We fully anticipate that he will back-peddle on most of his promises and apologize to the women, the minorities and immigrants whom he offended, for his rudeness. Finally, we’re predicting that Mr. Trump and Mr. 0’Bomba will become “fast friends”, if they have not already. Ha.

    1. jaf005

      The racist narrative is driving me crazy, granted I get how some women would be offended by the Tape from ’05 (there but for the grace of god go i). But the racist meme is starting to wear very thin, the man had some great things to say about helping (legal) minority communities in this county, safer streets and better schools, and he spoke about it much better than I ever could. An under-reported action that Obama took very early in his administration was to END the Washington DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (I think it was March or April ’09) which overwhelmingly benefited minority students in quite possibly the nations most failing schools. Up until that point I was willing to give him a pass, but then I knew we elected another text-book bought and paid for Democrat. Back on topic, what we are seeing are a group who gets their marching orders from a small group of people that set the narrative, without ever taking a closer look at the real issues facing this country.

      1. Billy Bob

        You talkin’ to me?!? So what else is new? We are not necessarily in disagreement,… just two ships passing in the nite.

  4. Quinn Martindale

    The useful thing about an election this close is that everyone can say their pet peeve decided the election. The Trump voters I know don’t care about what the campus left is saying, they wrote them all off as godless anti-Americans decades ago.

    1. SHG Post author

      This isn’t necessarily about Trump voters, which is an important distinction. This is about Democrats/liberals who have been pushed out of the tent, who have tried very hard to calm down the insanity of extreme progressivism, and who were either constrained to vote for end of times or stayed home rather than vote for Hillary. Don’t forget, there are two ways to lose: votes for the other team or not voting for your team.

      Liberals don’t support Trump. They just couldn’t support Hillary either, and are infuriated by the theft of the party by progressives. Trump supporters have their own myriad reasons, but don’t ignore the impact of the left on the people caught in the middle.

      1. Mike G.

        A lot of conservatives didn’t want to support Trump either, but after giving the GOP the House and Senate and seeing no change, just business as usual, a lot of them held their noses and voted the lesser of two evils.

        Also throw in the fact that Team Hillary considered Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania “gimmes” and didn’t even deign to campaign in those states, she lost 46 electoral votes right there.

        1. SHG Post author

          People of good will can argue the virtues of their position, whether conservative or liberal, with intelligence, humor and grace. These are not the virtues of the extremes. None of us really want the nutjobs to be in control of our worlds.

  5. Richard G. Kopf


    Almost exactly 100 years ago, before the 1916 game, Yale football coach T.A.D. Jones unequivocally asserted to his players: “Gentlemen, you are now going to play football against Harvard. Never again in your whole life will you do anything so important.” Of course, he was right. Playing football at Yale taught those boys (many of whom would soon die in WWI) lessons that would never have been learned at Yale otherwise.

    With the foregoing in mind, perhaps instead of cancelling exams due to the fragility of students, Yale should cancel the football game against Harvard on November 19, 2016. which, for reasons that escape me, will be carried on ESPN. In that way, and If it did, Yale could definitively prove that it stands four square against all bad and unpleasant things like (1) Trump, (2) hegemonic masculinity, and (3) adulthood.

    All the best.


      1. Richard Kopf


        Kudos to MIT. But to be just (and we all demand Justice) the video only goes to prove the need for safe places. All the best.


  6. Zach Schumaker

    Perhaps this election, and all of the terrible, horrible, no-good trauma it caused, will start our students down the long road to recovery from this addiction to their emotions. We’ve all had rude awakenings in life and many of us have been made better from them.

    Unfortunately, if admitting you have a problem really is the first step towards recovery then current events are certainly not encouraging.

    1. SHG Post author

      The irony here is that the nice kids who put emotions before reason got exactly what they wanted from this election, just the other way around. I see no indication yet that they have or will learn anything from it.

  7. B. McLeod

    I’m not sure it is even a “loss.” They didn’t get their way. (But then, it’s entirely possible none of them ever experienced that before either). Now, because they have forgotten that the demonic version of Trump they created in their heads was just made up, they think the country has gone all [every name their attack dogs called Trump to justify voting for the awful candidate the Democrats floated]. This is why fairy tales always have the villain (the wolf or the troll or the witch or the evil dwarf) lose at the end, so that these kids are traumatized to a point of paralysis before they ever get off to middle school.

    1. SHG Post author

      Trump may well prove to be as awful as they think, but that doesn’t make Clinton any less awful or progressivism any more endearing. The logical fallacy endures.

    2. Bill Trumpington

      fairy tales don’t have the villain lose, they usually end up with the kids being eaten or destroyed and the tale is used to terrify children into behaving. The US versions of traditional folk tales all have the good guys winning and the bad guys losing, just as every US tv and movie since forever does because Americans have always been snowflakes, unable to cope with outcomes that don’t comport with their deeply ingrained Us good vs Them bad mentality.

  8. Mike G.

    Perhaps these kids need to take a few classes in the “School of Hard Knocks.” Some of us of a certain age have a PHD from that school, either from bad decisions or just dumb bad luck, but we persevered and are the better for it.

    As you are wont to say…”I’ve got something to tell you and its going to make you very sad.” Life isn’t fair and the sooner you get it in your head, the better off you will be.

    1. Norahc

      That may be the greatest failings of parents in the past couple of generations. Not teaching children that actions have consequences, life isn’t fair no matter how much you want it to be, and to quote my 9 year old nephew’s favorite phrase, “Suck it up, buttercup. Here’s a tissue for your issue.”

      Too many children (some of who are now voting adults), have never learned these critical lessons.

  9. spumoni101

    As you imply there is a difference in believing that Trump’s supporters are racists or xenophobes versus believing that Trump is: there is considerable evidence to suggest that he is both. If the student protesters focused solely on the evidence which points to the latter issue and went to their classes as usual, they could not be faulted.

  10. Scarlet Pimpernel

    “It is time white women start making change within their own circles. White women must talk to their sisters, mothers, colleagues and friends about racism, homophobia, transphobia and ableism.”

    The one thing progressives fail to understand is a lot of women are reasonably happy with their lives and if your primary message is that the husbands and sons that they love are the root of all evil, then you can talk at the White Women all you want, the message will never catch on with them.

    “Mama don’t want you messin with ‘the deal’ she’s got.”
    Jerry Clower “The She Coon Of Women’s Lib” (1974)

    1. SHG Post author

      Whether they’re happy or not, they don’t want to be neo-feminists. Neo-feminists can’t grasp that possibility.

  11. Lucas Beauchamp

    On the eve of my father’s finals one December, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. He got a three-year, expense-paid cruise in the South Pacific out of it.

    Buncha whiners.

  12. Matthew S Wideman

    I voted for Hillary and I am not despondent at all. I can see why lots of men and women voted for Trump. You win some and you lose some. I don’t see it as a repudiation of all liberal values in this country. What I can’t understand is how smug some people have gotten about their political views. Their feelings are soooooo right….that they think they are factually correct. The “feelz” crowd increasingly fails to see other points of view and how they maybe different but valid. That scares me about the health of our democracy.

    Losses are not necessarily a bad thing for a party or a person. It means the Democratic party need to have a tighter and more focused message for the next election. Some of those Trump supporters maybe voting Democrat next election. You never know.

    1. SHG Post author

      The irony is that, even now, they are too self-indulgent to comprehend their role in Trump winning. When classic libs who believe in equality are called racist and sexist, they gave the election away. And they’re to engrossed in their own feelings to get it. Not every Democrat wanted the “women and children” president. Not every Democrat believes that women and minorities should go beyond equality and be given extraordinary benefits and privileges. And they never will. If this doesn’t change, these same people will doom their party to irrelevance. I see no sign of their having learned anything from this election. When they get done crying, they want to double down. It won’t work.

      1. John Neff

        They did not appear to have learned anything from the 2014 election and it is too soon to tell if they will learn anything from this election. It will just give them another subject to quarrel about and because there is no possibility they can be wrong the quarrel will never end.

  13. Bud

    Great blogpost. The real villains are the university professors who fill the empty heads of these best and brightest with distorted ideologies and ideas about the majority of people who disagree with the professors. The poor crybabies no longer have any respectable role models. Their parents have enabled them and nurtured this warped worldview by allowing their adult babies to continue to live in their basements instead of throwing them out to make a life for themselves.

    1. Billy Bob

      This Bud’s for You! Evidence please? You are jealous; it reeks in your dialogue/diatribe. It’s terrible getting old and the yougins pay you no nevermind. (Get all the young you can, and get em while they’re young–made that up meself!) It’s not like the good ol’ days of Rock and Roll, and Masgur’s Farm, when spirits were free and the livin’ was easy. It’s a new world out there. You have to “reinvent” yourself, or else the world-at-large will send you back to the bottom rung of the ladder, metaphorically speaking. We’re thinking Pewtin, and most recently, now Hillary. She’s licking her wounds, poor thing! We are shedding crocodile tears, trust it.

      For the Record: I–me–myself am old (enough, but not as old as Judge Kopf) and still looking for a “respectable role model”. Or Mentor. Any takers? ” Just call me, and I’ll be there!” As for “warped”, do you have a PhD in Physics,… or is it Star Trek? There is a difference!

      Before we go, for every alcoholic or drug addict, there is an “enabler”, trust it. One man’s enbabler is another man’s disabler. Ha. Wrap yer head around that one! We met Mr. John Kerry in person once, but that’s another story for another day. Julian Assange, are you out there? (He is our current hero, irregardless of what the hacktivists may think.) Hoping we made sense and were on topic.

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