By Alec Liberman
Let’s skip the introduction. On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump received more than the required 270 electoral college votes to secure his position as the president elect of the United States. If all remains as it is, on January 20, a mere two months from now, Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States.
It is fair to say that very few predicted this event with a large degree of certainty. Almost every single nationwide poll showed that Hillary Clinton was set to be the President, and last night, we found out that each of those polls was wrong.
This morning, as I walked into school, I could tell that people were disappointed, which was to be expected. The school demeanor had changed; the aura had been transformed from one of excitement to one of defeat and, in some cases, hatred. People flooded the halls with a constant stream of disappointment, rage, and “How the hell did that monster become President?”
It was a shock to many of us. Massachusetts did not get its way. Most of New England did not get its way. Of course, it’s a normal reaction to try and resist an unfortunate change; it’s purely natural to vent and rage and to fight against something you do not believe in.
However, as hard as it is for me to say this– that is not what we should be doing. We as a community, state, region, and country should not be fighting against the results of the election. The American people have spoken, and they have chosen Donald Trump. Whichever way the election would have went, 50% of the country would have been disappointed.
It just so turned out that we got unlucky.
Today, and in the coming days, let’s all remember one thing: the only way to make sure that our current situation does not get worse is to not let polarization and division get the better of us. Millions of people voted for Donald Trump, and millions for Hillary Clinton; neither side is “wrong”, and we ought to act ourselves like it.
It is your choice to believe in Hillary Clinton. If you do– and I’m sure this applies to the majority of readers– by all means, you have the right to be upset. She did not win the election, and you have the right to express your discontent about that.
However, when the dust has settled and our emotions have all calmed down, the best thing to do is to go back to the way things were. In the long term, it’s only four years. The chance that something in our daily life changes is almost non-existent.
Sure, you may call Donald Trump a bigot, a homophobe, a racist, and many other terms. That’s also your right. However, with that right, you also have a responsibility to not only refrain from generalizing the victor’s supporters, but to also respect the views of your peers, classmates, and everyone around you.
Not everyone in this school and even town supports Hillary Clinton. They, just like you, have the right to their opinion, as there is no such thing as a “correct” candidate.
Them voicing their opinion and you voicing yours is precisely what drives our democracy. Do not be the one to shut someone down because their way of thinking is not the same as yours.
All I ask from you during this period of transition is that you give the respect that you receive. You are in a school that respects your opinions and it is your duty to respect those of others. Chances are, you are in a community that makes you feel safe and gives you a place to express your opinions. All I ask is that you do the same in return.
After all, the only way that we progress as a country is that we discuss issues peacefully, offer opposing viewpoints, and listen to the other side. Constant fighting and gridlock achieves nothing, yet that’s precisely what many of us are inclined to do.
Let’s not fight, scream at, and berate each other. Let’s acknowledge either a victory or a defeat, an end to a stressful few months, and, most importantly, a step forward.
We have a new president who is representative of a frustrated people. We have a new government determined to implement new policies.
We also have a community that is determined to better itself and the world around it, so let’s all respect one another’s viewpoints and ideas. That’s how a democracy works.
Let’s not generalize Trump supporters as Nazis or people that ruin America, as some have done. Let’s not generalize Hillary supporters as crooked and a part of the establishment, as some have done. Just live and let live– and if someone disagrees with you, so be it.
Finally, I leave you with this one thought attributed to Noam Chomsky: “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”