The common American doesn’t necessarily want to vote for one party over another. They instead vote for the person who best represents the nation and the values we can collectively place at the highest priority. To the majority of America, that wasn’t the man who is in the Oval Office right now. But to those whose votes made the ultimate difference, it wasn’t the woman who embodied the government so many others felt disenfranchised from.
I don’t care that you voted for Trump and I’m not going to assume you’re a horrible and blind person because you did. We shouldn’t ignore the fact that a number of mal-intentioned people support Trump’s presidency and may indeed have a chance to grow their platform thanks to him, but we also shouldn’t ignore the Americans so disconnected with the beliefs and priorities of the people that they inadvertently supported his win. I’d like to think that the greater America that supported his presidency are the well-meaning Americans that simply wanted to see change from a government they felt was dismissive and destructive for their own understandable reasons.
The core of Trump’s inauguration speech we saw on Friday was galvanizing “the people,” contending that every American, regardless of color and socioeconomic background, are united as one and a force much stronger than the government that had continually disappointed them. But the beauty of America is that our sheer size, history, and social and cultural diversity guarantees the American experience takes a different face for everyone who lives here. The problem with patriotism, as vital to our integrity as it might be, is that it often conceals that reality.
In order to stand for the people we must listen to the people, especially those quite unlike ourselves. Calling out those who have reacted negatively to this election in order to characterize them as “sore losers” disregards the voices of those who are legitimately fearful for their place in this country in ways we cannot relate to. An effective society doesn’t dismiss and trivialize these opposing voices, but it hears what they have to say. People who are concerned reserve the right to be concerned just as much as you reserve the right to be hopeful.
When Trump says “We will make America wealthy again,” it’s not egregious to worry about the complexities of that statement when so much of his administration are, like him, multi-millionaires with business ties. When Trump says “We will make America proud again,” we have to wonder if we agree on what it was that was so dishonorable in the first place. And finally, when Trump says “We will make America safe again,” his large support from white nationalists and past statements make it easy to feel that perhaps that’s not a promise meant for all Americans. Even if all of these are arguable to some extent, every argument requires at least a little bit of empathy. Our most deeply-held beliefs don’t come out of thin air, they grow with us when we learn and reflect from our own upbringings and experiences.
I don’t care that you voted for Trump. I care if whether or not you’re willing to understand why the contrast of this presidency compared to its predecessors is not a good thing for everyone instead of focusing on whatever an opposing voice can say or do that strokes your ego. I care that you can be willing to take a step back every now and then and evaluate why you feel the way you do - which is, of course, something everybody should be doing anyway. America is not the same reality for everyone, and the most constructive change cannot occur if we don’t acknowledge our differences.At the end of the day, though, we are all human, and it’s true: we are absolutely bigger than our government, as long as we can take the time to acknowledge our humanity.