On November 8th, at about 11:45pm Pacific Time, CNN reported that Hillary Clinton called to concede the 2016 Presidential Election to Donald Trump.
I watched the results as they poured in, eating Sushi while on a business trip to California. I bounced between Fox News, CNN, and Google’s election tracker. I watched as the media went from the near-certainty of a Clinton victory to the confusion at the fact that Donald Trump. I’m sure the next several months, if not years will be spent trying to figure out what it was that got this man elected.
Already, I skim through my Twitter account and see the wailing and gnashing of teeth as the supporters of Hillary Clinton bemoan the election of a man they viewed as racist, misogynist, and more. People declaring they are sick to their stomach. Some posts even bordered on hostility. People claiming they are terrified not of Trump but the people who voted for him. People are enraged and confused.
And I get it. Elections are complex reflections of the complex world that we live in. The easiest answer is to just assume that every Trump voter is an evil sexist misogynistic racist or assume that every Clinton supporter is some hippy tree-hugging wacko intent on destroying america as we know it. These are the easy responses that don’t dig down into the complexity behind why people voted the way they did. I’m sure the demographics will be telling, but I sincerely doubt that every person who voted for Trump embody every flaw of the candidate himself.
So what happens now?
There are a lot of unknowns. Will President-elect Trump really build his wall and kick out every Muslim in the country? Will there be recounts and rebellion? Who can say? But I’ll tell you what NEEDS to happen, and it is completely free of partisan advice:
We need to have compassion and respect for everyone around us.
Right now we live in a society that strives to divide its people. Everything that streams forth from the mainstream media is about”who” is right and not about “what” is right. This polarizing mentality rages and flourishes in the channels of social media. “I am right, therefore they are wrong,” is the mantra of the interwebs. If you don’t believe me, read the comments of any political post on Facebook. You find arrogance. You find hatred. You find division.
And it is not tied to a single party.
It stems from a society that is becoming increasingly more distant from their neighbors. A society where an increasingly large percentage of its interaction is through electronic means, even when across the room. There is no empathy to be had…no compassion for those who you barely know. The idea that every Trump supporter supports racism and misogyny is fostered by this distance one has from real Trump supporters. The dislike of bleeding-heart liberals by Trump supporters comes because of this distance and separation. It is easy to project your anger and disagreement upon someone you is nothing more than a profile picture and bits of code appearing on your screen.
Whatever comes down the road with Donald Trump as president, if we continue down this divisive road, America will never be great again. We will never have the unity sought by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Get to know the people around you. Engage in civil dialogue on why they voted the way they did. Seek to understand, not argue. Seek to show love and compassion instead of hatred and fear. It won’t be the president who makes America great again. It will be us.
And start now because the campaign for President 2020 begins tomorrow.
(you laugh but seriously….tomorrow they’ll start analyzing who will defeat Trump in 2020).