When Donald Trump won the election, many of the 65 million people who cast their vote for Hillary Clinton felt an array of emotions — sadness, anger, disbelief, disappointment, and complete and utter bafflement. After all, hadn't pollsters predicted a resounding Clinton victory?
But the election came and went, and the heartbreak of Clinton's weighty loss gave way to deep introspection. It was perhaps the first time they truly considered the large swaths of the country who stuck it not just to the Democrats and Republicans on the hill, but very much so, too, to them, the "coastal elites" who so often derided and ridiculed them.
In reaching out to groups with drastically different ideologies and world views, some have started at home, over Thanksgiving dinners. Others have gone out of their way to do so, like writer Gregory Ferenstein, a Clinton voter who is now writing for Breitbart. In a Politico piece explaining his decision, Ferenstein wrote:
I might vehemently disagree with some of the anti-immigration and militaristic beliefs that Trump used to excite his supporters. But if I want to persuade those supporters — and I do — I have to reach them on the platform where they are getting their ideas. In the meantime, I just might be persuaded a bit myself.
Then there's Daily Show host Trevor Noah, the good-natured South African comedian who in the past year repeatedly lampooned Trump's behavior and his proposals on his show. Like many of his fellow talk show hosts, Noah leaned liberal, his takes on the election often done from an outsider's point of view.
Noah, too, was clearly invested in the outcome of the election. And in his attempt to understand "the other side," Noah invited firebrand conservative Tomi Lahren as a guest on his show on Wednesday night.
Lahren, a young white conservative woman with a knack for riling up a crowd, has a show on The Blaze, where she's known for her impassioned diatribes against the left and liberal values. True to form, when Noah opened with a question about why Lahren seemed so angry on her show, she responded, "sometimes people just need to be called on their shit."
The discussion between Noah and Lahren touched on the Black Lives Matter movement, Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protest, and race.
"I don't see color," Lahren said at one point while defending her criticism of Black Lives Matter. "I go after Hillary Clinton and she's as white as they come."
"There's nothing wrong with seeing color," Noah replied, "it's how you treat color that's important."
The interview is illuminating, all 26 minutes of it. It was a crash course on how differently liberals and conservatives perceive issues, and while it seemed they ultimately agreed to disagree, the conversation neither devolved into ugly shouting nor name-calling. Rather, Noah genuinely seemed to want to understand where Lahren was coming from.
While the two kept it civil, even friendly, the segment drew the ire of both Noah's and Lahren's fans who lobbed insults at the other side. While she initially chastised The Daily Show for airing only six minutes of the interview (it's worth noting that the format of the show allows for only a portion of time with the guest to air, usually about six minutes. Full interviews are made available on the Comedy Central website), Lahren later addressed the abuse both she and Noah were getting from each other's viewers.
"To my fans: Trevor Noah is not a douche or a jerk. To Trevor's fans: I'm not a bitch or c*nt. We are people with opposing views. That's it," she tweeted.
Noah shared her tweet, adding, "Thank you for being my guest Tomi. Our goal should be to destroy these 'bubbles' not each other. You're always welcome on my show."
It was a precious moment of accord and a powerful example of how to have constructive conversations with those you disagree with. In this tense political climate where too often people take an "us versus them" approach, perhaps we could all do well to learn from Noah and Lahren, if only in this regard.