Every time I think about the election results, my heart sinks; the hatred that fueled President Trump's campaign sickens me to my core. I recognize that for many this election was a matter of the lesser of the two evils, that it put many individuals between a rock and a hard place, that there are single issue voters; but at the end of the day, Trump is still in office and his ideals are right there too.
In spite of all of those legitimate reasons, knowing that so much of our country (though not the majority) voted for a man that openly embraces rape culture, atrociously made fun of the disabled, disrespected women, Latinos, Muslims, veterans, the LGBTQ+ community, refugees, immigrants, and black people alike troubles me deeply to say the least. The fact that people supported a man who wants to build walls instead of tearing them down, a man who objectifies the female body, a man who is an impulsive decision maker, a man who could never be a role model to children baffles me. I guess I honestly hoped that these factors alone would have been enough to deter votes. However, they did not, so we are faced with trying to understand what issues were so important that all of these things President Trump said and did were permissible.
This divide that we as a nation feel is unfortunately nothing new, rather something that has seemingly floated up to the surface. Following the election, I have seen my friends and loved ones go through ten different kinds of pain. This hurt has been experienced by anti-Trump and Trump supporters alike.
My anti-Trump friends fear for the direction of our nation, the instability of the rights they depend upon, and emboldened neo-nazis now referring to themselves as the alt-right. On the other hand, many of my Trump supporting friends feel ganged up on, get left out at social engagements, and feel like they cannot speak up for what they believe in and why they voted for Trump without being harassed in the midst of this tension-riddled political climate.
So how do we move on from here to a place of greater unity? How do we stop this "us vs. them" gap that Trump's hateful rhetoric seems to have strengthened?
First things first, I think we as a country need work really hard to empathize with one another and hear each other out. I sincerely want to empathize with and understand the perspective of those who supported Trump. Being frustrated and upset with the results without understanding why will achieve absolutely nothing. In return, I implore those who voted for Trump to see my perspective, to see the perspectives of all of those who are afraid and hurting. I hope that those who supported Trump would see these protests and talks as not liberals being sore losers, but as humans who genuinely fear for their future and who need their voices heard too.
Second, I think we need to set the record straight that not all people who voted for Trump are bad people and that they do not all necessarily agree with the ideas he espouses. However, it is important to realize that in the midst of these election results, many of the people that Trump's rhetoric targeted feel unsafe. The thing is, while all those who voted for Trump do not support the ideals that he espouses, all of those that believe in those atrocious ideals did vote for him. Thus I ask you to stand against those hateful things President Trump has said, to show you do not support them. Go to marches, stand up against injustices when you see them, support equality and basic human rights for all.
Finally, I think we need to start a conversation where we tell people when what they say offends us and need to try like hell to listen when they do. We need to discuss, empathize, and try to understand various viewpoints. To read more and to become more educated on policies and opinions. To learn how to critical think and how to search for information from multiple different sources; to not let ourselves fall prey to fake news.
These things are just a start, so yeah, we have a lot of work to do. But nothing good in life comes easy, and bridging this divide that President Trump has widened is imperative for the vitality of our country. So, I promise to not stop listening to the views and perspectives of others on these issues, and I promise to respect every word I hear, all I ask is the same in return.