Mend­ing divi­sion starts with the in­di­vid­ual

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

The call for Amer­i­cans to unite seems to be fall­ing on some deaf ears.

As early as Wed­nes­day last week, shortly after it was clear Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump had se­cured vic­tory in the pres­i­den­tial race, de­feat­ing his Demo­cratic op­po­nent Hil­lary Clin­ton, re­ports started com­ing in about pock­ets of hate­ful and racially mo­ti­vated at­tacks on mi­nori­ties, and some bla­tantly racist plans for demon­stra­tions by the Ku Klux Klan, which an­nounced it was plan­ning a “Trump vic­tory pa­rade” in Charlotte, N.C., a state that swung in Trump’s fa­vor.

While Trump ran a vit­ri­olic cam­paign where he of­ten pushed the en­ve­lope on what could be con­sid­ered taste­ful, and was some­times downright of­fen­sive, the mes­sage he sent to his sup­port­ers Sun­day evening dur­ing an in­ter­view on “60 Min­utes” was di­rect. Those who are ver­bally or phys­i­cally at­tack­ing peo­ple, “Stop it.” We hope they heard that. Protest­ing of a free and fair elec­tion, in light of Pres­i­dent-Elect Trump, isn’t help­ing mat­ters. Cer­tainly Amer­i­cans are well within their rights to peace­fully protest, with an em­pha­sis on “peace­ful,” but there have been many in­stances in which the protests have be­come dis­rup­tive and de­struc­tive.

You can be up­set that your can­di­date lost, but this is by no means a con­tested elec­tion. Clin­ton may have won the pop­u­lar vote, but Trump clearly won what counts: the elec­toral col­lege vote, which is, in some ways, more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of how the ma­jor­ity of vot­ers cast their bal­lot. The elec­toral col­lege keeps large swaths of the pop­u­la­tion from be­ing ne­glected. That was the case in this elec­tion: those who felt they had been ig­nored for so long wanted to be heard. And heard they were. It is clear that the coun­try is in­cred­i­bly di­vided right now. One side is ex­cited to see what Trump will do, while oth­ers are re­coil­ing in hor­ror, try­ing to un­der­stand how he was elected. Trump and Clin­ton were po­lar­iz­ing can­di­dates — so much so that nearly half of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers de­cided to stay at home and out of the fray. That’s a sad tes­ta­ment on the demo­cratic process.

But we’re not go­ing to be­gin to heal those wounds or hurt feel­ings by con­tin­u­ing to shut the other side out. We’ve al­ready be­gun to see that there are signs Trump re­al­izes he has a tough road ahead and has be­gun soft­en­ing his tone — and even some of his hard­line stances.

Now that Trump is as­sem­bling his tran­si­tion team, he is be­ing of­fered help from both Pres­i­dent Obama, Clin­ton and some Democrats. Mem­bers of the Repub­li­can Party that once dis­tanced them­selves from can­di­date Trump are warm­ing up to him. So far, aside from a cou­ple of Twit­ter re­marks about the protest­ing, Trump is speak­ing with a more pres­i­den­tial tone. Sure, there is noth­ing any­one can say to as­suage the fears many have about what a Trump pres­i­dency could bring about, or to con­vince his sup­port­ers that he isn’t go­ing to de­liver on ev­ery cam­paign prom­ise he made.

It has just been a week since the elec­tion was de­cided, so we can un­der­stand why emo­tions are still so high, but at­tack­ing strangers and protest­ing a de­ci­sive vic­tory is only caus­ing a greater divi­sion. How we act as in­di­vid­u­als will do more to bring the coun­try back to­gether than any man or woman could do.

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