On November 9th the world woke up to two different Americas, clearly divided. We woke up to something of a tragedy, not because of the result (the tragedy of this fact is obviously something up for clear debate depending on who you voted for) but because the whole process,this whole election itself has been a tragedy. Over these many months it's done something to us, worn out and exhausted this country, scared and divided it, and had people on both sides feeling on election night that they were heading into this final moment looking at a country they hardly recognized.
The bizarre hatred, hurt, and disillusionment of this election wasn't just the result of a few words among politicians over the past weeks, months, or even this year but the culmination of a partisanship that we had long let grow out of control in our country. It is ironic and perhaps the greatest indictment against our journalism, advanced technology and social media, all of which have obviously done many great and influential things for the world, that in its effort to allow the world to better communicate with each other and come to know one another it has also been able to isolate us so well. We have in many ways trapped ourselves in our own virtual bubble hearing the echo of our own opinions reverberated back at us from every direction, so we can stereotype the rest of the world without bearing any of the consequences. It has become a device in which everyone wants to talk and shout out their opinions to the world and yet no one one wants or feels obligated to listen. So I propose something that unfortunately today has turned into a quite radical view: Let's listen.
The tragedy of the division we've sown is obvious, it feels terrible to wake up in a nation where Trump supporters and Clinton supporters can hardly come to look one another in the face. This wasn't just another political tornado but a personal battle for everyone in the country. We made this a contest of America vs. America and in such a situation America was sure to lose, even in the act of "winning".
So to all those Democrats, who have come out to say that if you vote for Trump, "I don't wish to talk to you", who feel the need to shun those on the other side. Understand that to reciprocate the alienation you feel from the Trump supporters by alienating them is to fall into the greatest of traps and ironies. Understand that not half the country voted for him because they are racist bigots, xenophobes, and sexist patriarchs, they didn't all vote because they hate you as a person. and obviously half the country aren't rich white billionaires or KKK members so those votes came from many places, a variety of different people who were simply scared and concerned.
They saw a system that had continually not worked for them, and an option that didn't promise any change to that system. They wanted to blow up the political establishment that talked down to them as just the uneducated horrors of America for daring to be Republican, or too anti-government and because for them it was a corrupt world of red tape, hindering hopes of prosperity, sucking up their money and opportunity and using it for their own gain while not improving the lives or those around them.
But to all those Republicans, understand that asking people to get over over it, accept that Trump is President, to tell people to stop the dramatics, is also terrible . Republicans aren't stupid (contrary to what so many assume) and It is not hard to understand that this was more than just another disappointment for one political side which has again seen the person who received less actual votes win the election because of an Electoral college system that doesn't favor the majority. This wasn't just a Bush situation or Romney or McCain, understand that this reaction is a far more personal one. That this wan't just born from the touchiness of "PC culture" that people need to "get over", nor does the reaction with such outrage represent a "pussification" of America. Understand that this isn't about a disagreement in policy or direction of certain national interests but that these people reacted this way because they feel terribly scared and threatened. They no longer know if they are living in a country that is willing to even allow them to exist as people, whether they now live in a country full of people who have voted to make them obsolete, who have voted to say it is okay. to kick them out because of their religion, tell them their identity as people is not allowed, and say that it doesn't matter how much you have given and struggled for freedom in this country, or to better the lives of your children, that this country is not yours and you will be deported and cast out.
Understand that people aren't just concerned for their country's future but are quite literally scared for their lives as they live in a country that has just, from their perspective, voted to make them a villain, an object to be tormented and abused, a problem to be dealt with rather than a people to communicate with. To minimize these concerns or label those who view them as un-american, elitist, or sore losers is to miss a fundamental understanding, that there is no denying what Trump caused. Whether you believe it was intentionally malicious or not, he still acted terribly, he scared a lot of people and made them feel like they did not belong, and were unequal. I suppose much in the same way Clinton, whether intentional or not, likely made many of you Trump supporters feel like you were tossed aside as irrelevant and deplorable, and too old-fashioned to be a relevant part of this country any longer. But that doesn't mean the other side's voice gets to not matter just because things felt unfair for you too.
It is ironic that what we learned and perhaps the greatest lesson to be pulled out of all this bitterness is that we cannot alienate each other, in the act of expressing ourselves. There were people scared, scared they were being excluded form America, scared they were being denied the American dream, scared they were being blamed, and unrepresented, and being treated as less than equal, and a problem. This goes for Democrats this goes, for Republicans, this goes for the first generation immigrant who struggled to make a living in a country that wanted to wall him off from it. This went for the Muslim Americans who felt scared to express their own religion and felt themselves vilified by the very country they loved. But it also went for the Michigan factory worker who saw his money and opportunity drying up, who felt fear in what he saw as a corrupt government and political machine and felt frustration when he was labeled as a racist simply for casting a ballot and looked down upon as an idiot for owning up to his political party.
The ending of this election is really a beginning, so we can decide to make it the beginning of an era of renewed ignorance and misunderstanding in this country or we can use this as a catharsis, a first step in healing, by trying to understand one another better so that this sort of thing doesn't have to happen again. Because the truth is that prejudice, whether against a skin color. race, gender, political party, culture, does not spur from hatred it spurs from ignorance. A simple lack of understanding for those around us that turns what we don't understand into something we fear, and then dehumanize in our terror, and finally come to hate.
I think it would be unfair of me to finish this without at least admitting my own bias in this all, admitting that I am firmly against everything Trump represented both politically and morally throughout his campaign. There are a million more things I could say but won't because.my opposition to him does not mean I have to give into showing vehement hatred of half of my country. I admit that it will be hard to "give Trump a chance" as many have said. I'm not going to be able to forget seeing the ways in which he rose to his position, nor do I want to, but I can still root for America even if I don't root for the man running it, and in the wake of calls by all leaders to come together it is all we can hope to do.
Even in all this intense disagreement I can at least give my people, my country, a chance, and not show hatred and violence and would ask that all people do the same. It is not about asking people to go with the flow. I would discourage anyone from ever doing such a thing. But in many ways the exact opposite, to defy the status quo that has developed, to not give into prejudice and hatred that has become an American norm. I do not ask you to tolerate intolerance but to be intolerant of your own intolerance of those you know so little about.
I still believe in America, and hope we can succeed. I believe we are at a stark place but we can come back from it, we always have. A house divided cannot stand, so lets stand. Let's stand up for all people of this nation, lets not give into hatred of one another, lets remember that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, fear of each other that bends us needlessly into hurting one another, and that this can be solved. But it shall be solved only by our understanding, an understanding that all ,no matter party, race ethnicity, gender, orientation, all should be able to enjoy freedom, that when one of us suffers injustice the whole nation suffers injustice, and most important that we must work toward equality for all or we will in the end have equality for none. The American Dream has not become a nightmare, not unless we decide to stop dreaming, so lets keep dreaming, lets keep hoping, and lets keep improving.