Af­ter a blis­ter­ing cam­paign, will Amer­ica be able to heal?

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE -

DE­CATUR, GA. >> For an hour they stood shoul­der to shoul­der, those who sup­ported Hil­lary Clin­ton and Don­ald Trump, pray­ing to­gether in a ser­vice of post-election heal­ing. Not­ing the painful la­bels and di­vi­sions of the just-fin­ished cam­paign, the Rev. Jenna Faith Strizak said, “We’ve got to fig­ure out how to live to­gether. And not just live to­gether, but be one.”

That could take a mir­a­cle — bring­ing to­gether those elated by Trump’s as­cen­sion to pres­i­dent-elect with those who see him as an em­bod­i­ment of the coun­try’s worst in­stincts and a threat to its fu­ture. Even as Clin­ton pledged the vic­tor her sup­port Wed­nes­day, oth­ers protested in the streets, burned flags and in­sisted he didn’t rep­re­sent them.

“It’s shat­ter­ing,” said By­ron Beck, a writer in Port­land, Ore., who sup­ported Clin­ton. While

harshly fault­ing Trump, he cast the mo­ment as a dilemma for all Amer­i­cans. “We have lost our way, and I don’t know what that re­set but­ton will look like, but I know that I will work for it or I’ll leave the coun­try.”

Trump ex­tended a hand to such op­po­nents in his vic­tory speech, say­ing Clin­ton was owed “a ma­jor debt of grat­i­tude” as he made an im­pas­sioned plea for both sides to join be­hind him: “Now it’s time for Amer­ica to bind the wounds of di­vi­sion . ... To all Repub­li­cans and Democrats and in­de­pen­dents across this na­tion, I say it is time for us to come to­gether as one united peo­ple.”

But the na­tion re­mained split over whether that was achiev­able or a pollyan­naish vi­sion. Exit polls showed vot­ers ex­press­ing not just un­hap­pi­ness with the way gov­ern­ment is work­ing but, among many

who found hope in Trump, out­right anger.

“The bit­ter­ness could well get worse,” said Robert Boa­tright, a Clark Univer­sity pro­fes­sor and re­search direc­tor at the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Civil Dis­course. “It prob­a­bly will.”

For Clin­ton’s sup­port­ers, the minu­tiae of how to move on seemed a sec­ondary con­cern as many still pro­fessed shock and sad­ness over the re­sult.

In Den­ver, 47-year-old Eli Romero ques­tioned how a man she dis­missed as “a cir­cus” could win, say­ing the election con­vinced her to move to Mex­ico. In Naperville, Ill., 68-yearold Carol Anthony said she felt like she was punched in the stom­ach. In Hager­stown, Md., Se­bi­ila Odin pon­dered how unity could be pos­si­ble.

“You know, all this talk about heal­ing, that’s a prob­lem, too, be­cause we’ve never healed,” said Odin, who is black, re­fer­ring to race re­la­tions.

Trump’s election bared rifts that have churned for decades, if not since the na­tion’s

found­ing. Toxic pol­i­tics have de­gen­er­ated to rank-and-file ha­tred of the other side. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to think that a hon­ey­moon will fol­low all the nas­ti­ness and name-call­ing,” said Robert Sch­muhl, a Univer­sity of Notre Dame pro­fes­sor.

Still, in small ges­tures all over the coun­try, some were vow­ing to bridge the gulf be­tween the two sides.

John Barnes, a 60-yearold re­tiree in Al­bu­querque, N.M., who cast his bal­lot for Trump, pledged to move on from his anger at a neigh­bor who sup­ported Clin­ton, who he feared could de­stroy the Con­sti­tu­tion. Jen­nifer Far­ley, a 38-yearold chef and cook­book au­thor in Bethesda, Md., who joked she’d drown her­self if Trump won, said she was con­sid­er­ing hold­ing potluck din­ners with peo­ple of dif­fer­ent ide­olo­gies, seek­ing unity through the heal­ing power of food. And Tane Dan­ger, a 31-year-old in­de­pen­dent in Min­neapo­lis, planned a se­ries of im­prov com­edy shows in di­vided

com­mu­ni­ties to try to get peo­ple of dif­fer­ent back­grounds in the same room to share laugh­ter.

“Hope­fully that moves us a lit­tle closer to help­ing to un­der­stand and be able to work to­gether,” he said.

In Rich­lands, Va., when Linda Craw­ford made known her sup­port for Clin­ton on Face­book dur­ing the race, she said she was met with an on­slaught of con­dem­na­tion and per­sonal at­tacks. But a week ago, she was re­lieved when she met many of those same peo­ple at a fu­neral, and found they could hug and com­fort one an­other de­spite their dif­fer­ences.

“Peo­ple still love one an­other and are still good to each other,” said the 66-year-old re­tired teacher. “This will pass — the election will pass — and our coun­try will heal and move on.”

At De­catur First United Methodist’s ec­u­meni­cal election night ser­vice, con­gre­gants from 13 dif­fer­ent churches joined. Pas­tors spoke of unity, and the

floors vi­brated with “Amer­ica the Beau­ti­ful” from the or­gan pipes. Democrats and Repub­li­cans shared the same pews, wear­ing voter stick­ers shaped like Ge­or­gia peaches, and shut out the bar­rage of news sweep­ing the coun­try.

“Let’s talk about what’s go­ing to hap­pen and how we can help the coun­try,” said Gary Brinker, a 56-year-old sales­man who voted for Trump. “We’re go­ing to have to work to­gether.”

Those who sup­ported Clin­ton and other can­di­dates ex­pressed sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments, pro­fess­ing a will­ing­ness to see past dif­fer­ences and a hope that peo­ple could come to­gether. Enoch Bang, a 23-year-old law stu­dent who voted for Clin­ton, said the tenor of the cam­paign drove him to seek an es­cape from the election re­turns in the quiet of prayer.

“We have to live to­mor­row as one coun­try, as one peo­ple,” the son of South Korean im­mi­grants said. “That’s what I want to pray for.”


Enoch Bang, left, and Tayler Bolton sing dur­ing the Ec­u­meni­cal Election Day Com­mu­nion Ser­vice on Tues­day at the De­catur First United Methodist Church in De­catur, Ga.

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