Mending division starts with the individual
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.