It still doesn’t feel real.
I’ve been in politics on both a volunteer and professional level since I was 16 and I’ve never seen anything like this. Here I sit, a full four days after the election and it hasn’t quite set in that Donald J. Trump will become the 45th President of The United States. It’s odd. I have found myself going about my daily life, fulfilling the mundane responsibilities of being an adult, and then it hits me like a train…
“Donald J. Trump is about to become the 45th President of the United States of America.”
I don’t think I need to recap any of the dumpster-fire that the American political process has been over the last two years. It’s caused us all enough pain, frustration, and bewilderment. To be frank, I think most of us can agree that most of these emotions have come from or been a direct result of the actions and words of our new president-elect. It’s hard to overstate the significance of what has happened in our world recently. Even more so, it’s challenging to accept how this has affected so many people on a personal level. While I was not a supporter of either of our candidates, it’s no secret that I fought Trump with a vengeance. I have been more critical of him than I have ever been of any other leader, and that’s saying something. I’ve fought him on the basis that he lacks the character of a president and I’ve openly criticized many of his policies as preposterous, unconstitutional, and downright dangerous.
Furthermore, the simple truth is that he has insulted most of America with his rhetoric. I have seen my friends and people I respect belittled both directly and indirectly. I have witnessed him degrade people made in the image of God because they don’t share his lifestyle, skin color, gender, or worldview. I saw him insult my candidate of choice because he didn’t feel that she was attractive enough to become president. Perhaps most disheartening of all, I saw people I respect throw aside their faith and openly support him with the excuse that it was more important to manipulate the political levers of democracy than to stand up for principal.
For a while it seemed there was no end in sight. Regularly, I would open my social media feeds to see Trump supporters sending me threats or insults. Myself and others I know were called every derogatory term, racial slur, and foul word in the book. After a tweet critical of Trump I would find password-reset notifications hitting my inbox as these individuals attempted to hack my accounts. I kept reminding myself that in a short period of time it wouldn’t matter. He would lose spectacularly and life would march forward.
Well the American electorate had different plans and so it’s time to move on.
I mean that quite literally. It’s time to MOVE on. Our country is more important than nasty tweets, political attack ads, and insults. Our country is more important than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Our country is more important than any political party. Our country is about us and we the people must force ourselves to be more than what the past two years exemplified. As challenging as this is, we must learn to put our differences aside, and fight together for the future.
What does this actually look like? Glad you asked.
To those who are Trump fans: Congratulations, you won. You fought hard, defied the science of politics, and you’ve captured the world’s attention. I ask now that you begin to realize the weight of where you have put us. Please realize that the time for divisive insults and rhetoric has passed. I beg of you, learn to listen. Understand that the majority of our republic does not share your views. This is a huge adjustment for all of us. Finally, begin to demand more from our new president. Accept nothing less than leadership and the behavior becoming of the leader of the free world. You were the driving force to put him in office. He will listen to you. Use that to our country’s advantage.
To #NeverTrump and people on the other side of the isle: We lost. We need to acknowledge it and accept reality. Rioting in the streets, burning Trump posters in effigy, and lashing out online won’t solve anything. Yeah, the whole situation is depressing, confusing, painful, and infuriating. Trust me, I know. But it’s time for us to start over and model the spirit we want to see in our political process.
On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both gave gracious and optimistic speeches conceding defeat to Mr. Trump. While I am certainly no fan of either politician, they deserve credit for handling a crushing situation with such class. If they can do it, then so can we. We have no excuse.
For me, this means I am going to do my best to respect Trump with the dignity his new title deserves. I will commit to pray for him, his team, and our country like never before. Does this mean I agree with all of his policies and the ways in which he may conduct himself? Absolutely not. But in spite of my feelings it’s time I give him a chance. I will be the first to applaud his successes, for they are our country’s successes. Likewise, I will also be the first to call him out when he conducts himself in any way that is not presidential. I have done the same for Barack Obama and I would do the same if Hillary Clinton were president. It’s not about a political philosophy or ideology, it’s about demanding leadership.
Finally, we must all work to combat the hate that has been rampant in society. Please understand that stepping up doesn’t just involve sharing a Facebook status, posting a tweet, or marching with a band of protesters. To repair the damage done, we must do the opposite of what we have heard. Reach out people who are different than you are and spend time with them. Look past race, gender, and worldview to see the real person. I don’t care if you disagree with them. Just learn to respect them as humans. Our differences are what makes America such a wonderful place and no one can take that away from us. We must all make a conscious effort to engage with one another in a civil manner, even when staring down hate.
Citizens it is time. MOVE on.
Demand leadership from our elected officials. If you don’t like the landscape then fight to change it. Get involved in politics more than once every four years. Stop letting the media tell you who to vote for or how to think. Research. Donate to organizations that fight for your viewpoints. Meet your representatives and make an effort to challenge them to stand for principal.
Most important of all, respect others and love those around you like the future of our nation depends on it, because it does.
PS. I personally don’t completely agree with the hashtag #MakeAmericaGreatAgain because I believe that America has always been great. But compromise starts with me, so I’ll use the hashtag.