Yesterday was a day of deep reflection and contemplation in America. Early yesterday morning, while many Brits were waking up and heading to work, the Presidential election was called in favor of Donald Trump, with a total of 279 electoral votes (he needed 270 to win). Regardless of anyone’s views and regardless of whether you see this as a victory or a defeat, America finally has an answer.
The election that has been plaguing us for a year and a half is now over, and Americans everywhere deserve a good nap because we are exhausted. A new president always means an uncertain future. But what worries me is that perhaps the only thing this election has taught us is how divided our proud nation has become.
Never before has this level of fear and animosity been observed in the 240 years of our country. In a poll taken by Pew Research Center, numbers showed that over half of Democrats are afraid of Republicans and vice versa. Afraid? When did civil disagreements turn into fear of speaking one’s mind? But to be honest, I see this in my own life. I have friends with whom I agree on politics and I have friends with whom I would avoid a conversation about politics like the plague. And in some cases, these distinct differences in beliefs drive wedges in relationships. Apparently, in America, we can’t “agree to disagree” anymore.
Instead, politics have become an individual attack on anybody and everybody. We take it personally when our friends, partners, and parents don’t see eye to eye with us. Part of the problem is the diversity of our nation. Obviously, when you place thousands of different cultures together, certain aspects don’t mesh, which is why, especially in the area I live, clashing viewpoints seem like a personal vendetta.
Nobody is going to pretend that out of the more than 300 million Americans, we had the best two candidates for the job. But, in fact, the way the candidates treated each other mirrored the way voters saw each other. The biting campaign commercials and inappropriate debate jabs did not reflect the conduct of true leaders. Regardless of whether you genuinely believed in Hillary’s devotion to this country or saw truth in Donald Trump’s vision, neither candidate inspired the kind of leader America deserves.
But I choose to look at this experience as a lesson, a point for growth. The shock over Trump’s underdog win will subside, and hopefully, when the smoke clears from the war zone that has been this election, we can look our “enemies” in the eye and realize that we’re fighting our friends, colleagues, and neighbors, with whom we have more in common than not. Because we are better together; the unity that won America its freedom and kept the country in its place of influence all these years can only be achieved when we stop taking aim at one another.
I know it can be hard for a non-American to look at our country and understand how things got the way they did. To be honest, I’m not sure either. But I know that the same passion that drew people to vote on 8 November and the same fighting spirit that has caused some Americans to be outraged over the results will fuel the real change we need to see in America. I choose to see this as a new chapter in my country’s history. We will surely be tested as we have been tested so many times before. I’m confident that we will grow, make changes where we see fit and carry on as we have for almost 250 years. Because we won’t go down without a hell of a fight.
To remind yourself what we all can agree on, watch Stephen Colbert’s, “Stephen Tries To Make Sense Of All This.”