Plenty has been written about the election, and plenty is still left to write. Both sides have their post-election breakdowns to do, cable news will spend countless hours on every detail of success or failure, and the rest of us will watch as time continues to moves on. But before we do, perhaps we would benefit from a little soul-searching; to look at our country and decide how we wish to move forward, no matter which side of the aisle you land on. It has only been a few days since the election, and I am just starting to make sense of everything that has happened. It played itself out over almost two years, and will not be parsed in a single day. It was filled with fire and brimstone, vitriol and anger. The primaries were rough for both sides, and the general election was somehow even worse. But, that part is over now.
Just over 59 million people cast a vote for Donald Trump. Most of those were from people that are angry at the system, weary of eight years of a Democrat in the White House and ready for a change. Others liked the message and toughness that he draped himself in. For still others, it was the Supreme Court or Free Trade or guns or countless other policies. But for some, it was a different message. A message of hate, and of fear. If you watched his rallies you saw America’s dirty secret; the racism roiling just under the surface, yells of, “sieg heil.” Blacks, Jews, Muslims, and others being called terrible things. Donald Trump gave this deplorable faction a platform and a leader to rally around. No matter how intentional or not, it was on his part, the country has been shaken by it. The alt-right and their ilk have taken his election to mean that the change people are ready for, is their kind of change. Even in my sleepy little corner of Central California, rocks and shouts of “President Trump,” were hurled at a friend because he is hispanic, a day following the election.
His message speaks to millions of people. The people who voted for him because of the economy, or change, or toughness, those people I can understand. Those that voted for him because of a deep-seated hatred for a group and culture that they don’t know or even seek to understand; those that voted for him because they believe that America was great when it was full of hatred; these are voters I do not understand.
Donald J. Trump is our President. His name will be written on that wall with all the others. He must represent everyone, not just those who earned his vote. And thus, he must understand what it is like to live as Americans. If you don’t like the job he is doing, write him, email him, call the White House. Call your Senators, your Congressperson. Call your State and Local representatives. Don’t yell, don’t curse, don’t threaten. Talk. Explain. If you are angry, not just about the election, but about the system or the direction of the country, get involved. Work to change it. We have a system of government that is of the people, by the people, for the people, but it only works if people are involved. If you are scared, not just about the election, but about the future or intolerance, get involved. In a democracy, all citizens voices get to be heard. If you find yourself angry or hating another person, seek to understand, talk to them, find ways to listen to them, and most of all strive for compassion.
The United States of America did something truly amazing this week; we made our voices heard. We were able to do that which so many in this world never get the chance to do. As, over the next few months, power shifts from one group to another, peacefully and without bloodshed, that is just another small miracle in our already miraculous country.
America is already great. We are not perfect; we fail, we start over, we endure. We push the boundaries of what is possible, we push ourselves and our world. We believe that freedom is always a generation from extinction, that it must be fought for and protected. We believe that, while we can’t help everyone, everyone can help someone. But most of all, as our 40th President, Ronald Reagan, said, “If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen.”
Until next time, stay safe, stay sane…and God Bless America.