I’ve been spending the morning trying to process what happened on Election Day. I tend to vote blue, but I wasn’t crazy about Hillary Clinton. I was appalled by Donald Trump. Now I realize it was not about Trump. It’s about people wanting change in Washington. It didn’t matter to them what Trump did or said; it was a protest vote.
President Obama and the Democrats ignored the people left out of their coalition, especially rural white folks. A lot of people have been left behind in the ongoing economic recovery. Neither party has done much to help them, but the party holding the White House got most of the blame. Trump successfully tapped into their anger and manipulated it to win.
Trump has handed the Republicans a huge victory, in spite of the reluctance of their leaders to support him. They have an opportunity to get things done, to help the country the way they think best. But they don’t know what they have in their leader. What does he really stand for? What does he really want for our country? What does he want from Republicans in exchange for cooperating with them?
The most promising aspect of yesterday’s outcome is the fact that the process worked. The election was not rigged. The people have spoken and made their choice. They will do so again in four years. Who will be angry then and at whom? Who will be left behind in the next four years?
How do we solve the divisiveness so evident in this election? We can start by resisting the urge to lump together those opposed to us as bigots, racists, uneducated, “deplorables”. The reality is many Trump supporters are decent, hard working people, who want something better. Just like we who did not support Trump do. We have to remember that there is no “us and them”. There is only us. We know this because we participate together in the electoral process and together we accept the outcome. That is what unites us: we believe in democracy.
We have to trust that our electoral process, as ugly as it is, however uglier it can possibly get, will work again in four years. This is what I told my millennial kids, both of whom called this morning distraught and scared. We have to trust in our democratic process and use it. Use it or lose it.