In light of the election day events, I feel compelled after a few days of reflection to think of a plan to move forward. Not to rationalize, not as a Democrat or Republican, but a way to try to keep in mind a bigger picture, as an American who cares about our country. I imagine most people reading this would consider themselves the same. The way I will do it is the same way that I open every trial: documenting everything about which both (or all) sides can agree. In law, we call them stipulations, but here they are just basic truths.
- WE’RE STILL AMERICA: Although there seem to be two Americas with two different perspectives on a lot of things, in the end we still agree on more things than not. I’ve found this while talking to people with whom I disagree about nearly everything politically; they still have many of the same ideas in common with me, which I summarize as follows:
- America is an amazing, unique country that has been a beacon to the world through its history;
- Everyone who lives here is seeking to have a good, productive, healthy, happy life for themselves, their families and everyone they care about;
- Despite different approaches, everyone wants to be free from crime, poverty, joblessness, and oppression;
- We all agree that we need to be prepared to intervene in world events, by force if necessary, and be prepared to rebuild those lives we destroy (here and abroad, especially our soldiers) when we do; and most importantly
- We need to maintain the rights and privileges that make our country special while seeking to do all of the above.
- DISCONTENT REIGNS: Regardless of who won the popular vote or the electoral college, it’s clear that there is discontent on both sides. This discontent is with the candidates, with the system, and the media. There was a lot of voting from fear and anger, and that’s a message that we need to hear loud and clear. From the violence at rallies prior to the election to the violence occurring at the protests after it, it has become clear that this is a very emotional election.
- WE NEED TO LISTEN TO EACH OTHER: Even if my preferred candidates had won, there were enough votes against them that ignoring those votes is not an option for moving forward together. Half of the country disagrees vehemently with the other half, and the razor-thin margins don’t give anyone license to write anyone else off. I am pleased to say that the President-elect has, so far, done an admirable job (especially in light of his tone before he won) to let American knows he wants unity.
Even if we disagree about things, we need to listen to others’ perspectives in order to engage, and fighting about issues is not the same thing as arguing. So long as we can approach these conversations assuming that the other people are working for the same things we are (see #1), we can disagree about the means to those ends while creating an environment more conducive to actually solving the problems.
Hillary was the first to concede the election, which we all must admit was as fair and open as an American election can be. I am positive that in her heart, she hopes that Donald Trump will guide our country in the right direction, even if it is at the expense of the Democratic Party in the future. Let me be the next to say that I will be the first one in line to vote for his second term if he is doing what’s best for the country. Country must come before party, and that goes for my party as much as the others.
[Ed. Note 5/27/17: I am leaving this up, but I was wrong.]