Time to Breathe

Unity more important than ever after presidential election

As the dust settles on the historic and unprecedented presidential election of 2016, we are left to make sense of the result. For some, the air is fresher than it has been for a while. But for many others, the rubble remains as a warning of what is to come.

Donald Trump’s campaign was well played; he called to voter blocs that hadn’t even existed with his brash promises and vulgar comments. His victory can be interpreted as evidence of the need for change in Washington. But it stands that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly one million.

The people have spoken, and so has the system, though they yielded different results. At this point, we must accept that we have a president-elect who has said women are “dogs,” “slobs” and “pigs,” Mexicans are “rapists” and criminals, and Muslims will be banned from entering the country. We have a president-elect who has made people nostalgic for the times of Jim Crow laws and garnered the endorsement of the KKK. And while anyone who wants to protest can and should do so, Clinton’s message that “we owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,” and Obama’s reminder that America’s democracy rests on the ability of the peaceful transfer of power must be remembered.

The potential ramifications of a Trump presidency are still unclear; there is always a large difference between campaigning and holding office, and he will likely be no different. Aside from being divisive, many of his proposed policies are also expensive. Only time will tell whether he recognizes that the performance that got him to the White House is not the leadership that America needs. The brunt of possible economic fallout as a result of those policies that do come about will probably fall on future generations, as will the environmental degradation which is sure to accelerate. We may have lost our last chance at saving the escalating pollution and global warming, because our new president believes that global warming, verified by 98-99 percent of scientists, is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.

Despite these issues, the most dire is the social unity of the United States. As the results of the election were released, tensions bubbled up from both sides. Some gloating and some grieving, groups began pointing fingers and making generalizations that extended beyond the man who will be sworn into office in January. However crude, cruel, or incompetent the president may be, we live in America and are privileged to have a democratic system with checks and balances. It can be hoped that the system remains intact and effective, and offers political stability. For this reason, Donald Trump is not America. He may be the president, he may be the representative of our country, but one man does not make or break the country, however you feel about him.

So, love your neighbor. Try to understand where they are coming from and why they feel the way they do. Change is needed. Not through limiting rights, stereotyping, or violence, but through political activism, cooperation, and peace. America is already great, but we can make it greater — as long as we aren’t blinded by our personal vision, and can open our eyes to see the nation we take for granted as a place of freedom and equality for all.