By Joanna McClanahan of Ramblin’ Mama
Our country is broken right now. I hope that this is a point on which we can all agree. The divisions are deep and our wounds are raw.
How did political divisiveness reach this level of animosity? When did we become so entrenched as Democrat and Republican that we forgot that we are all still Americans?
The animosity toward our Presidential candidates was at an all-time high this year. People didn’t so much vote “for” one candidate, as they mostly voted “against” the other. All of that being said, I have some requests:
To the people who voted for Trump:
Yes, Donald Trump won the election through the Electoral College. But Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 2 million votes (a number that is still climbing as votes continue to be counted). Can you imagine, for a moment, if it were the other way around? I think it’s safe to say you’d be upset.
I understand that you’re tired of people assuming that you’re racist and sexist because of the way you voted. But Trump did say that he would ban all Muslims from entering our country. Trump did brag about being able to sexually assault women, then had the bravado to say it was just “locker room talk.” He did refer to Mexicans as rapists and vow to build a wall between our countries. He was endorsed by the KKK. You may not have voted for him because of these things, but the fact is that you voted for him in spite of these things, and that is still hurtful and offensive to many.
Taking the above into consideration, please don’t tell people to “settle down” or “everything will be fine” or “just give him a chance.” Especially if you are white. Double especially if you are a white male. You do not get to minimize the fears of others when you, yourself, never had anything to be fearful of. Full stop.
To the people who voted for Clinton:
Yes, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Yes, the Electoral College is an antiquated system. But none of that will change the outcome of this election.
I understand you’re frustrated. Personally, I wept for 30-some hours straight. By all means, let’s discuss where we went wrong, but let’s try to be constructive. Hypotheticals like “Bernie would have won” are not helpful and are, in fact, pretty sexist.
Peaceful protests are a good thing. They show the rest of the world that we’re not happy about the results of this election, but we must condemn violence in all forms. If we’re going to be the party that goes high, we’ve got to get it together.
It’s great to show support for people who feel isolated, specifically minorities, immigrants, women, and members of the LGBTQ community. Wearing safety pins and changing your profile pictures are nice gestures, but we have to do more than that. Let’s take the frustration we feel and build it into something positive. We need to get more involved at a community level.
To the people who didn’t vote:
Yeah, I’m talking to you, almost 50% of the American public. I understand that maybe you didn’t think your vote mattered. I understand that maybe you didn’t like either candidate. But we live in a democracy, and democracy is not representative of the whole if only half of its citizens show up to vote. (And don’t try to tell me you were too busy; you can get an absentee ballot delivered to your house and you can mail it back or drop it off at a polling station.)
We are living in the age of customizable media. Fox News and AM radio have a conservative bias. MSNBC has a liberal bias. Facebook shows us exactly what we want to see, which is typically websites and articles that share our viewpoints. I know it’s tempting to “unfollow” people who think differently than us. But I’m begging you, we have to start having uncomfortable conversations if we expect to make any progress. Further isolating ourselves from one another will only hurt us more in the long run.
We need to agree that facts matter. Not everything on the internet is true, but some is specifically designed to make you think it is. Look at the dates on articles and double-check questionable sources before you share them. Think critically, please, for the sake of humanity.
Don’t be a garbage human. Treat each other with kindness, empathy, and respect. Denounce hateful speech and actions when you see them. Be an advocate when you see others being treated unfairly because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion. Hate crimes have increased dramatically since the election, and we all need to look out for one another.
Hug your kids. Take the time to tell them they are loved and that you’ll keep them safe, no matter what. This has been a tough week for us, and it’s been arguably more traumatic for them. If you can, find a teacher and ask them about how this election has affected their students. Promote understanding through example.
Lastly, don’t be complacent. Use this momentum to make a difference. There are a ton of great nonprofit organizations that need our time and resources, such as Planned Parenthood, The American Civil Liberties Union, Boys & Girls Club of America, The National Organization for Women, RAINN (which focuses on preventing sexual assault), and The Sierra Club. (Jezebel published a comprehensive list of even more great organizations here.)
Of course everyone is hopeful that Trump is able to successfully lead this country without carrying out some of the hateful rhetoric he used during his campaign. We’re all on this ship together and we’re hoping he doesn’t fucking sink it. But it’s our relationships with friends and family that need the most drastic healing. So let’s make it a point to talk less and listen more. RESPECTFULLY, dammit.
About the Author
Joanna McClanahan is an Editor at Mock Mom. She’s also a Contributor at Sammiches & Psych Meds and has been published on Scary Mommy. You can find more from her on RamblinMama.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.