On Election Night I heard two things I never thought I’d hear: The first was “President- elect Donald Trump” and the second -- and one that was far more personal -- someone accusing me of being anti-Semitic. On Election Night I went to Democracy Plaza at Rockefeller Center in New York. Huge screens broadcast the election returns and not surprising, thousands and thousands of people cheered when a state was called for Hillary Clinton and booed when Donald Trump won a state. I remained neutral, taking in the festivities of the night in awe of our democracy at work.
At one point I made a comment about how I think both candidates have their strengths and weaknesses. A stranger in front of me angrily turned and said “Trump is anti-Semitic and you must be too if you like him.” Quite surprised, I responded saying that Trump’s daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren are Jewish and I can’t imagine that he’s anti-Semitic. She continued with her baseless rant saying multiple times that I must be anti-Semitic. Finally, she quieted after I told her that I’m Jewish.
I walked away from that event long before the election was called but knew that regardless of the outcome, this would bring out the worst in people – and it did. I’ve heard some people wishing that Trump would be assassinated and others referring to people who voted for him as “stupid uneducated white people”. Ignorantly people feel that just because their candidate lost it gives them license to be racist. Imagine someone saying “Stupid uneducated black people.” They’re doing the very thing they accused the other side of doing. This is the height of hypocrisy and it will do very little to calm the Nation right now.
I get it, elections are highly polarizing and they’re a long fought battle. People work tirelessly supporting their candidate and make huge sacrifices along the way. Social issues and stances on foreign affairs stir up fiery passions. Ugly personalities rear their heads (and we’ve certainly seen this) but despite the vitriol, elections come and go, and like clockwork, every four years on a late January day, a president- elect becomes the President and takes the oath of office.
Rather than fighting and stooping to name calling and bigotry, people need to take a step back and gain some perspective: Our country has been through far worse than a long and hard fought election. We’ve been through a civil war, attacks on our soil, a hotly contested 2000 election that the Supreme Court deliberated over, riots, and much more.
Although people don’t agree with the Electoral College system that is currently in place, it is what’s used and accepted by both parties. If someone is unhappy with it, then real change won’t occur by pure raw emotional reaction, stopping traffic, vandalizing, and hypocrisy. But rather, a smart, thoughtful stance on it and reaching out to Members of Congress might start a necessary conversation. So, given our system, this election was a smooth one – there were no reports of rigging, no acts of terror, recounts weren’t needed, and at the end of the night, it was a clean victory – one in which the victor was gracious and conciliatory and the defeated conceded offering her support for the president-elect. Rather than fighting the outcome and protesting, Americans should embrace the words of President Obama and Secretary Clinton and support President-elect Trump. People should see this as an opportunity to grow as a Nation and celebrate the diversity of the two candidates: a female and a Washington outsider. We’ve never seen either of these and if nothing else, this is progress.
Not too different than when President Obama was elected, many of those on the right offered no support and wanted to see him fail. Some politicians even stated their mission was to make him a one term president. We are better than this. Rather than continuing to persecute the president -elect we should rise above the agony of defeat and move forward, giving him a chance -- a chance to show grace and dignity as he steps into the presidency. Understand that what divides this country is also what makes it stronger -- diverse ideas, hard fought battles, and working towards a stronger, more perfect Union. So, instead of reacting emotionally to this election, use intellect. No need to pack your bags and flee the United States. We have it pretty darn good here!
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