I was committed to staying up through the night to watch the election, convinced that I’d be crying tears of joy to see the first female candidate get elected into the White House. A victory that had been a long time coming. A victory that Hillary had already won in my book, as she proved over and over again in her campaign how qualified she was to lead us to an even brighter future by setting a good example through love and hard work.
Sidenote: Was Hillary the perfect candidate? No, there isn’t such a thing, but she was certainly the lesser of two evils.
Instead, I went to bed because I quickly grew tired of all the anxiety, the nasty comments on social media, and the stress of watching Trump’s numbers climb while Clinton slowly trailed behind. I woke up at 2AM to find out Donald Trump had been elected as the 45th president of the United States. Had to rub my eyes a few times to make sure I read everything correctly, and then I made the mistake of staying up for 2 hours watching news commentary. Around 4AM, I fell back asleep, hoping to wake up again to news that this was all a hoax. I hoped for a ballot recount or for Trump to go on national television to admit this was all a prank.
Instead, I woke up to Hillary’s concession speech and a victory speech from a man without any previous government experience. After what has been the most grueling, hateful, exhausting election, we don’t get any relief or closure. We get 4 years of Trump in the White House, but if I’m being honest, my prediction is that Trump will burn out or bow out within the first 2 years. The 2-3 days following the election results, I felt angry, sad, disappointed, and lost in uncertainty.
But you know what? This means we, as a nation, have a lot to learn, and Trump’s presidency will bring forth those lessons. It will be nasty and discouraging at times but necessary. Along the way, there will be regrets that lead to admissions, apologies, and deep-cut wounds that shall be met with love, empathy, and healing. In our local communities and through the media, we are obliged to help heal each other’s wounds by standing side by side in the darkest of times instead of leaving each other in the dirt.
After some time to process and come to terms with election results, I think I understand why Trump is our new president. Of course, I can only wager a guess here as I am only one person, but I think Trump supporters are afraid of becoming a minority. They’re afraid of being left behind/left out in a modern society that develops and changes so rapidly, there seems to be little chance of ever catching up. They’re afraid of being treated unfairly as many minorities and immigrants may have felt upon integrating into this society. They’re afraid of being on the receiving end of the brutality and bullying that the African-American, Hispanic, and Asian communities have so long endured. They’re afraid of revenge and the effects of losing their majority and power.
Even though I could think of 1,000 people who could represent them better, they’ve chosen Trump because there were no other viable options. So they flocked to the polls in extraordinary numbers to make their voices heard. Now that the floodgates are open, they lash out with violence and hateful remarks that stem from feeling repressed, unrepresented, and living under a system that didn’t work for them for 8 years. For everyone who, like me, is grieving over Hillary’s loss, imagine living with all of that built up emotion for 8 years and try telling me you wouldn’t feel angry and willing to do anything for change. I’m certainly not advocating violence and hatred. Like all else though, these waves too shall pass but only if we can meet in the middle, look each other in the eye, and say “I know where you’re coming from.”
Everyone, regardless of skin color, gender, nationality, what have you, seeks peace and safety in the land they call home. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of verbal, physical, and sexual assault, knowing what it’s like to live with that pain and fear for life, I’m sure wouldn’t wish that grief upon anyone. We all just want an equal fighting chance, to know that police officers will protect us and not target us. We want to protect our jobs so we can feed our families and live in a nice home in a safe neighborhood where we don’t have to worry about someone breaking down the door in the middle of the night. We want to build companionship and relationships based on things we love not hate. Right? I mean, can we all agree those are things we want?
If you look at photos of Trump’s reaction in the newsroom the moment his victory was announced, he looked less than thrilled, tired, and in disbelief. After he met with Obama for the first time on November 10, there were moments during the press conference where he realized he bit off more than he could chew. Quite honestly, I think he’s just as scared to be in office as we are to have him as our leader, and if you think about it, this is not a presidency, this is an internship. All jokes aside, I’m confident he will learn a lot and even those who voted for him will realize he is not the best representative for their community.
All of that said, it would be so easy for me to continue wallowing in anger, fear, and sadness, but you know what? That doesn’t make me feel good, and it doesn’t make the situation better. Instead, I shall work at being hopeful, positive, and open-minded because this will be an extraordinary lesson for us all and a brutal wake up call for him. We can talk a lot of big talk online, but this will be the ultimate test to see if we actually carry that same energy and perspective out into the world to stand up for ourselves and others. So as Hillary said in her concession speech, we owe Trump an open mind, and it’s our duty now to show him the way forward, to show him what we we want our future to look like.
Now, politics aside, it is more important than ever to travel the nation and the world to get to know people, to share and understand each other’s struggles, to celebrate each other’s achievements, and to disarm hatred and violence with tough conversations and compassion. We are all human. That is the common ground from which we begin to rebuild. We shall stop with the hurtful name calling, start respecting each other, own up to our mistakes, and set the example for living peacefully and with empathy everywhere we go. Our future also demands that we start acknowledging and embracing each other’s creativity and intelligence infinitely more than our appearances. We are capable of higher ways of thinking and being, and now is the time to do so.
Donald Trump may not be my president, but over 50% of America feels he is the best commander-in-chief to lead this nation forward at this point in time. So, as difficult as it is, I shall make peace with what is. I will, first and foremost, heal from within, continue to create art and love, and put my best foot forward to be a positive influence to those around me. I will continue to travel the world, share meals with people who are different than me and from whom I can learn, and prove that our fears of the “outside world” are unfounded.
What can you do? Take care of yourselves physically. Go outside and get some exercise, move, play, and be active. Take care of yourself mentally. Meditate, do yoga, read books, get some rest, do whatever brings you joy. Stay close to your loved ones. Let them know you love them via phone calls and handwritten letters and make sure you’re letting THEM know you love them instead of broadcasting on Facebook that you love them. Put your phones away and pay attention to those around you. Arm yourself with knowledge instead of weapons. Be present, step in when help is needed, and speak up when you need help. When someone expresses beliefs and opinions that are different than your own, don’t dismiss them. Listen. Above all, exercise compassion, empathy, and love to all those who choose to take the low road and those who felt left behind during Obama’s presidency.
From daily frustrations to brutal election years, we always bounce back with battle wounds so telling of how resilient we truly are. So instead of pointing fingers and placing blame, let us focus on finding solutions and making progress together.
To end, I will share this beautifully stated perspective from my cousin’s boyfriend.
It may not feel like it, but we are all in this together. So take my hand, and let’s do this.