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Friday, November 18, 2016

After Tuesday: A Brief Election Response

Tyler is one of my good friends, and one of my favorite people to chat with. I asked him to write a response to the election, and I think his words here are perceptive yet gentle during this time of national hostility:



After months of anticipation, America has its next president. And it’s one that slightly less than half of voters wanted. Indeed, Donald Trump’s victory last Tuesday came as a surprise to most people, partly because few predictions gave him much of a chance if at all. But just as the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Cavaliers overcame improbable odds for victory, so too did Donald Trump. Of course, just like in sports, there had to be a winner and a loser in the election. But few people would proclaim that this election was unlike any other. Besides the fact that we had a woman for a major party on one side and a non-politician on the other, this election seemed to carry extra weight. 

Much like what Barack Obama meant for the African American community, Hilary Clinton meant the same if not more to the women of America. Many had hoped this was finally the sign that the “glass ceiling” was broken; a woman becoming President of the USA was unfathomable to many people but a few years ago. 

In that way, much rode on this election. And that is in part why we saw the wide range of reactions from the election’s results. There was anger, satisfaction, fear, distress, and triumph, just to name a few. Many US voters are now coming to terms with the election results. While some have purely dismissed Democratic voter feelings as being “sore losers,” I think that assessment fails to comprehend the depth and magnitude of this election.

But no matter whom one voted for, certain introspective questions must be asked. What are we communicating about ourselves when we select one candidate instead of another? What values or hopes are we stressing when selecting a candidate? Above all else, when we vote for a candidate, what is at stake? 

Many Trump supporters are not bad people. Many Clinton supporters are not bad people either. Specifically for Republican voters, many of those who voted for Trump were tired of traditional politics, tired of the same old politicians, and tired of a seemingly lackluster economy. Those are reasonable motives for wanting something different. But how much were the supporters of Donald Trump willing to sacrifice? How much did they sacrifice? And the same could be asked of Clinton voters, how much did they sacrifice voting for her? This election certainly seemed to be more than about “the issues.” Both nominees had their respective stances as progressive or conservative, and it would be untenable to say that this election was won or lost primarily on “the issues.” Those previous questions I proposed are even more important because of the nature of this election. 

In just a little over a week, many people have been hurt, partly inspired by Donald Trump. Few individuals would find the actions of those supporters acceptable—is this what was meant by “Make America Great Again”? His campaign and the resulting incidents have left various groups and individuals concerned for what the next four years may bring. But obviously some disagree, and some are even optimistic. For the sake of so many, let us hope making America great again means that we can head to a place of understanding, cooperation, and love. The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it will only do so if we are acting and moving accordingly. 


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