Devastated. Delighted. Dumbfounded. Emboldened. Threatened. Motivated.
These are just some of the words used to describe this past week in America. To put it super extremely mildly, it’s certainly been a momentous time for our country.
I must admit that last week, when I wrote about healing the great divide in our country, I wasn’t thinking that the election was going Trump’s way. Score one for devastated and another for dumbfounded.
I’m working to better understand why a reality TV star laden with controversy was elected (by the Electoral College, not the popular vote) as president of the “United” States.
I get that the foundation of his platform and appeal was anger.
And I get that there are millions of angry people in this country. Both right and left. Hell, I’m one of them.
I find it very interesting—and frustrating—that the response of many of the victors has been mean-spirited gloating and continued bashing of the opposition. I’ve read Facebook posts from people whose temperament I thought I knew saying, “Losers should stop whining. Grow up. Get over yourselves. We didn’t act this way when Obama won.”
Selective memories, anyone? Trump cried out in a tweetstorm of his disgust and desire to fight against the 2012 election results. Those whose candidates lost in 2008 and 2012 ripped President Obama throughout his terms—and still do. In fact, it’s that vitriol that bonded so powerfully with the Trump campaign.
We’ve been witness to Republicans trying their damndest to block the President’s every move for eight years, including denial of his constitutional right to appoint a Supreme Court judge.
So the whole “get over it like we did” thing falls a little flat. Sorry not sorry.
While I am not one of “those people” who think that protesting through destruction and lashing out is the way to make positive progress, I absolutely support the right to peacefully protest. After all, it is in that little document called the Constitution that we all know and love.
To say that those who disagree should just suck it up is integral to the problem: we have to work through our differences, not just shut them out or down. This is true no matter what side you are on.
So where do we go from here?
As Trump’s campaign began to build momentum, I had two main avenues of fear if he won: I obviously worried about much of his platform being enacted, but I also worried what electing him could mean to those whose anger is rooted in hatred.
As I’ve said before, political correctness doesn’t “cure” discrimination or any “ism”—it just drives it underground. What might happen if people felt they no longer had to keep those feelings concealed?
We’ve already begun to see some of that played out across the country. I’ve had lifelong friends of color share with me that they are frightened for themselves and their children. I know teachers who’ve had to console their students in their worry of what is going to happen to their families. I know women who’ve been taunted at work by men saying they can now do whatever they want…These aren’t reports in the media—these are firsthand accounts from people I know.
People are not just saying aloud—or doing—what they may have before kept to themselves or their circle of like-minded people. They are saying it with contempt, righteousness, and a lack of concern for any repercussions.
Is this America?
It’s more than just policy at stake here—it’s what we stand for as a country. It’s what we believe in as good and right. It’s answering the question ‘who do we want to be?’
If you are someone who voted for Trump solely because of your desire to shake up the establishment and see his promises of jobs and a better economy realized, then when the “other stuff” you overlooked—and so many of us are worried about—happens…you need to step up.
Just like I teach my son that if he sees someone being bullied and does nothing, he is part of the problem—when racist, misogynist, xenophobic words or actions occur, if you don’t stand up for the victim, you are “those people,” too. Disclaiming alone isn’t enough.
I’ve also told my son that we have to give the president-elect a chance—we have to root for him to be a good president because it’s our country. I’d rather be wrong if he helps people than right and see our country suffer.
But we must not lie down and make it easy for his administration to walk over any of us. Any.
Amidst the emboldened negativity, though, here is a silver lining: true colors are being shown. And when they’re shown, they’re known. And when they’re known, they can be addressed. And when they’re truly, frankly addressed—real change can happen.
This is my hope.
Let us begin the work to have the conversations that will recognize people for who they are and what they want, work toward positive change, and ultimately strive for healing. Let us remember that we don’t stand taller when we’re knocking others down. Let us work to build a foundation not of anger but hope.
It’s one helluva monumental challenge, but I’m not ready to give in. Are you?