United We Stand; Divided We Fall

fractured-america
Source: Florida Politics Website; Dennis Ross

It has been nearly a week since the country elected Donald Trump to be president.

For more than half of America, this presidency is terrifying. For the remaining minority, it brings pure joy and hope.

This election has shown us all that America is divided. For many of us, we live in a bubble. And in our bubbles, we have witnessed that we live in a divided country.  In our separation, many of us have lost what it means to stand united.

chicago-trump-protests

Source: Chicago Tribune

We are on Day 5 since I woke up with the confirmed understanding that Trump had won, and much of the nation is angry. Protest throughout the country, most incredibly peaceful, are intended as a wake up and challenge to President-elect Trump. For those of you that think the protests are ridiculous, understand that no true changes in America have ever happened without protest – from the Revolutionary War to the abolishment of slavery to women’s right to vote to the Civil Rights movement. This is our fundamental right in the US Constitution.

My Initial Response

In the first few days, I was in shock. I was in mourning. We had used this election to introduce our older children, aged 7 and 9, to politics. Within days of seeing Trump in the primaries, they had made up their mind. We had no influence. Trump was going on and on about his wall, and they called it the way they saw it. He was a bully. Note, my children are 25% Mexican-American, from a family where the border crossed us, and his message meant something real to them as they tried to grapple with the hate.

On Thursday night, our neighborhood had a girls’ night in. I will admit that I live in a strongly democratic community. There are a few Trump supporters, but they definitely don’t publicize it heavily, and have kept relatively quiet since the election. The tone on Thursday was shock. It was angry. We all were judging. “How could this happen?”  All of our friends on Facebook agreed with us. All of our friends agreed with us.

Who were these people that voted for Trump? 

And then, in a moment of wine-fueled clarity, one of my all-time, favorite people in the world said something so real, and so honest, that the memory is vivid in my mind –  “We live in a bubble?” 

But, I’m a girl who didn’t grow up surrounded by liberal Democrats. I’m a girl that grew up in South Texas. I’m a girl that went to a Catholic college. I’m a girl that spent my youngest years in central Indiana, where white factory workers who were losing their jobs as auto-parts factories shut down and moved out of the country yelled angry, hurtful thing at my father and his friends, who were just as American as they were, but with darker skin. They were easier to blame than looking at each other, or the companies that hired them, and accept that the world was changing around them.

I lived in our little liberal Democratic bubble too, and I believed that Trump would lose. I didn’t love Hillary, but I was vehemently opposed to Trump.

I underestimated the angst of the those Rust Belt workers that never found a way to recover since the trade deals of the 90s took their jobs, or the massive changes in technology made their jobs obsolete in the last 15 years.  I underestimated the people who just truly could not stand Hillary and her past, regardless of the good that she had done in her life-long career serving our country.

And, I think the world underestimated the apathy of the 46% of Americans that could have voted one way or another and didn’t care enough to do so.

 

However, Trump will be the next president of the United States. And we need to find a way to move forward. And as we move forward, we must find a way to reach common ground. We must learn as a country to compromise.

For My Friends Who Are Trump Supporters:

I respectively disagree with you. However, I know that you aren’t automatically racists. I know that you aren’t dump. You wanted to change. You voted with your conscience the same way that I did.

You were not wrong, and I was not right. Nor, were you right and I wrong.  Instead, we believed different paths would be best for the country.

I ask you as we move forward to just understand three things.

  1. For those of us who were against Trump, we believed that he was as morally bankrupt as you believed our candidate was.
  2. There is no way to avoid that Trump bullied and boasted and said hateful, racist, bigoted things in this election. I have even heard some of you admit to that. Trump must make amends for that, as would any other American who did so in a public manner, regardless of their wealth or position.
  3. We are hurting and need time to heal. CNN’s Van Jones had one of the most honest and powerful statements on election night. Again, you might not agree with this, but for those of us on the other side, this resonated with many of us – particularly the 75% of people of color who voted against Donald Trump.

For My Friends Against Donald Trump

Many Trump supporters have been forgotten in the economic recovery in the last eight years. The majority of these voters denounce the vocal minority that thrive on hate, bigotry and discrimination. While it be hard to understand, in parts of this country, without manufacturing jobs, without agriculture jobs, without energy jobs, it is impossible to make a living wage with dignity. In many urban areas, this impacts minorities most, but in heartland America, this impacts white voters who are desperate for help and often marginalized.

To All of My Friends

Over 50 years ago, Martin Luther King gave one of the most poignant speeches of our country.  I believe every American can quote at least one line.

Know this, we as a country have made great progress in achieving his dream. But there is still tremendous work to do. Because one population cannot rise up at the expense of another.

We are here today, because as the country grew out of the civil rights movement, we got comfortable in our bubbles. We stopped having dialogues. We stopped compromising. We started dividing.

Our country will not fall, even as divided as we are today, because as Americans – white or black or brown, Christian, Muslim or Jew, man or woman – we are stronger together.

If anything, I believe in the next four years, that we will discover this again together.

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