Going to class on Wednesday after the election was the weirdest experience I have ever had.
It was eerily silent, almost like no one dared to talk about the election out loud or risk getting into a shouting match with someone who secretly supported Trump but otherwise remained silent out of fear of a public backlash. After all, no one I talked to had expected a Republican victory. No media station predicted a Trump victory. It would be a close race, of course, but the prospect of Trump winning the election did not really crystalize until The East Coast went red on the election maps.
People have responded in different ways. Some are vocally furious, even going so far as to delete their Facebook and Twitter apps from their phone so as to pretend the Trump majority does not exist. Others clammed up, outright refusing to discuss the election at all out of anger or overwhelming anguish.
But whether you voted for Trump or not, life is not going to let you stay in bed and freak out about the results or how much you hate your “racist, misogynistic brethren.”
The planet is still spinning, society is still going and life continues on, whether you are ready and prepared for it or not.
There are two realities at play right now.
No. 1: The popular vote went to Clinton, but she lost the Electoral College to Trump. As much as we might rail against this in anger, if the situation were flipped, we would not bat an eye at the Republicans who would obviously be upset at the same thing. Both sides would say the same thing about the other. Both candidates fought hard and fair, and now the results are in. There is no reason to dwell on a past we cannot change.
No. 2: Whichever person is currently warming the desk at the White House cannot and will not affect your daily life. A single person determines your daily life: you. Only you can decide to wake up. Only you can decide to take a shower. Only you can decide to get dressed, go to class, do your homework, procrastinate on your homework, go to work, deal with stupid customers, go back home and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. The president of the U.S. has no authority over your daily life. Only you get to make those choices for yourself.
As a moderate watching this election cycle from a relative distance, I can say with confidence this election was fueled by nothing but partisan hate. It was pure, unbridled hatred. Democrats hated Republicans and Trump for being “racist, homophobic, sexist and misogynistic,” while Republicans hated Democrats for being “lazy, ignorant and naïve.” This hatred blocked all attempts to have a civilized discussion, which is required in any functional democracy, and make no mistake: this hatred was not exclusively from Republicans. We are all guilty of focusing too much on how much we hated [insert candidate name here] and not enough on the actual issues being debated on the stage. The result was a competition to see how much we could hate each other. And now we are going to pay for it for at least four years.
I am fed up with hate. I am fed up with people hating one another in a country with some of the largest freedoms of speech in the world. I, along with much of the country, am exhausted with politics.
To the Republicans: fear is a legitimate emotion, and we all experience it in some form or fashion in our lives. If someone tells you they are afraid of Trump as president, getting angry at the person is the wrong approach. Listen to them. Try to understand where they are coming from. If you want to convince America to come together in the wake of this election, you must be willing to listen, and if liberals want to protest, let them. It is their right as Americans, and as long as the protests remain non-violent, they are protected within the American legal system. Your party won in an unexpected turn-around. Remember why you voted in the first place: to improve the state of this country, not to push your ego in people’s faces.
To the Democrats: Clinton lost. It feels terrible and stings at the back of your throat. However, people are not who they vote for, and attacking them on social media is not going to win the Democratic Party any favors in the near future. Further, there is more to Trump’s campaign than the hatred seen on TV and social media. Many Americans are genuinely fed up with the “establishment,” and if you consider people like my parents, who were around during the Bill Clinton scandals, it becomes a lot easier to understand where the average Republican is coming from. While the hateful ones are showcased online for the world to see most often, the truth is more complex. As long as you remember that, we can find the common ground necessary to keep this country running.
Remember the truth in all this: America is more than the person living in the White House. You are America. You are the reason this country works the way it does. After all, President-elect Donald Trump is not America. You are. Never forget that. If you still believe there is work to be done, keep fighting for that work. No president on this planet can take away what you have in this country: your life, your dignity and your spirit. You are America. I am America. We are America. Never stop working. Never stop believing. Make the choice to wake up and continue living, and you will never go wrong.