As half of America wipes the vomit from their lips, I’m in a state reflection.
I took a walk last night with Terry. We went to the beach and watched what was left of the sunset, then to the local farmer’s market where we bought macaroons and some very expensive cheese. We had dinner at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, Ortega’s. I like the atmosphere more than anything. It’s cluttered with sugar skulls, paintings and sculptures, all things Hispanic. Then we headed home. It was a November night in San Diego, but warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt. We talked about the election the entire time.
The media is looking at each other with shrugged shoulders, and the rest of the world is scratching their heads wondering how. How did this happen?
I’ve heard many people say that the American people have spoken. But I actually think it’s because the electoral college is a convoluted system that gives more power to states with less people, and also, is actually just a bunch of random dudes voting for president who may or may not take the majority’s vote into consideration.
This happened in 2000 with Bush and Gore. Al won the popular vote and conceded because George W. won the electoral college. And didn’t that turn out swell. Elections like this, although rare, make you think, who should have won?
Even before this election, I spoke with friends about the system and how impractical it seemed. I even started reading the constitution and looking up YouTube videos to figure out why we do things this way. And I'll tell ya, still seems overly complicated. I'm definitely not the only American who feels this way. Here’s a petition aiming to end the electoral college. And here's another petition trying to do the same thing.
Regardless of what’s happened in the past, no matter how recent it was, I think what this says about our country is that we are incredibly divided. Almost completely evenly divided, in fact. And I don’t believe that that’s only because we disagree about hot button issues. We came at this election from two entirely different perspectives.
Half of us couldn’t fathom electing a man whose rhetoric was filled with misogyny and racism. The other half couldn’t fathom electing a woman who’s a crooked politician. Half of us feel we’ve been ignored and overlooked, and that we need a major change in the white house to shake things up. The other half now feel ignored and terrified that our rights will soon be stripped from us. Half of us think we’re moving forward. And half of us think we just got set back 50 years.
So what do we do? There was one thing that stood out to me in Trump's acceptance speech. Something that I actually appreciated. He talked about coming together. He reiterated, in his own way, Hillary’s Stronger Together sentiment and Obama’s “same team” language. He also spoke the truth in that statement, free of malice and judgement.
Unity is almost non-existent in politics. Which is sad, because as citizens of this country, it’s our obligation to work together to fix all our problems. And that requires listening more than talking, finding common ground, and having empathy for those who may not have the same rights and privileges as we do. We can yell and scream at each other about who has it harder, or we can realize that we’re all in the same boat and try to steer it together.
In a shockingly optimistic turn-around, and believe me, I spent most of yesterday reading Facebook posts and arguing my points with those random republican and conservative friends I have, part of me is (gulp) excited about Trump being the new president. If it were Hillary, I would have sat back for the next four years and let her do her thing. Now that it’s Trump, I’m watching him like a hawk.
It would have been a huge mistake for me to do anything less, no matter who was elected. And I think it’s a mistake a lot of us make. We defer responsibility to those who “know better”, those who choose to stay informed, all while checking our social media accounts to see only the opinions of those who think like us. It's no wonder we're all shocked and shaken about this outcome. We are lazy and dumb, just like the American stereotype suggests. And I’ve never been more embarrassed of my aloofness and yet so empowered to take part in the decisions that we make for ourselves.
I don’t see this as the end of the world. I see it as an opportunity. And please hear me clearly, Donald Trump is NOT going to save us, but he won't destroy us either. Our politicians, our leaders, they answer to us. That's their whole job, to just do what we tell them to do. That's why we call them public servants. The time for sitting back and deferring responsibility is over. And here’s what we need to do:
Pay attention. Vote. Don’t complain. Do something about it.
Like it or not, come January, Donald Trump is your new president. So please please please please read about his plans. Do your own research. Talk to others who have different opinions. Figure out what you like and what you don’t like. And make sure your Senators and Representatives know your opinions on every issue. Then take notes on who listens to you and who doesn’t. Because there’s a midterm election in two years. Congress is important, too.