Election election election. All we’ve heard about these past few days is the results of the election, and the fallout from it. Some people are thrilled, some people are horrified, and some people simply take solace from the whole thing in memes and ironic humor. While every reaction is of course a valid one, there are some things we can take away from this whole ordeal.
Firstly, America is divided. Now you might say “Of course America is divided, there are so many things that make us different!” to which I would say of course, you’re right. Political parties, ideologies, philosophies, and even tastes can divide our nation’s electorate into any number of different groups. However, traditionally America has been a nation of compromise and cordial discourse, if heated at times. Our Congress was, while of course differing due to party and political ideology, generally bipartisan in its voting patterns. However, if we look at the voting patterns of Congress from 1949 to 2011, we can see that our government has become more and more polarized, and it has only gotten worse.
Think back, if you can remember, to the election of Barack Obama in 2008. I doubt I am alone in hearing cries of despair from families about the impending apocalypse and the disaster he would bring due to his radical ideologies. However, here we are eight years later, still standing, and similar cries are heard again. The divide has definitely not been mended.
Secondly, we can see that many people in the world are afraid. Many middle income Americans and white blue collar workers are afraid of losing their jobs and their livelihoods to overseas outsourcing, and feel that they have been ignored by the Washington establishment. Many Muslims fear for their lives and their livelihoods in the face of rampant Islamophobia. Many South American immigrants fear for their futures, and the futures of their families and children. Many religious people fear that their rights are being taken, and many irreligious people fear that their lives are being ruled by religious legislation.
This fear manifests on both sides of our ideological dichotomy, and has caused contention after the 2008, the 2012, and now the 2016 presidential elections. Our politics have become more and more reactionary, and our discourse more and more personal. Throughout Obama’s presidency, he faced attacks on his character, with accusations of terrorist leanings, false birth information, and hatred of America. Now Trump faces attacks on his character, and the cycle repeats. I make no attempts to defend or deny accusations against either president, nor do I attempt to pick a side. However, this vitriol and hatred is a clear result of the rampant fear and divide among the American people.
Regardless of your political leanings, or which candidate you voted for, we have received a new president elect. He is certainly entirely unorthodox in his presentation and rhetoric, and signals a deep desire for change in the American people. Many on both sides of the party battlefield voted for him, as he represents a wind to shake the branches in Washington, and hopefully pull politics back into the business of protecting the American people. Others on both sides voted against him for the opposite reason, that he represents something that will put politics back into the business of persecuting some of the American people, while uplifting only a few.
To America, whether you are in celebration or mourning, I will quote Douglas Adams: Don’t Panic. To those of you who voted Trump and are fearful for your safety due to protests and violence, I say I am sorry. To those of you who now fear for your safety due to the upsurge of racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and transphobic crimes and threats, I am sorry. This is our time to come together, regardless of our leanings, to work towards a better America.