By Alec Liberman
On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected to be the 45th President of the United States. Starting the very next day, protests erupted all around the United States, with many people pushing two common hashtags: #NotMyPresident and #NeverTrump.
It is perfectly reasonable for people to voice their discontent. Over half of the people that cast their votes did not vote for Trump; they instead voted for Clinton, or one of the third party candidates. I’m not going to comment on whether or not he should have won– that’s a discussion for another day.
What I am going to say is this: these protests, while they have mostly died down or become less frequent, are a less-than-effective way of expressing frustration and are only exacerbating the division within the United States.
There are a few things to consider when judging the outcome of the election. The first is arguably the most important: Trump won, and he won by the rules– rules that protesters agreed to when voting in the election. There are talks of a recount in some key states, but chances are, the results of the election will not change. I did not previously agree with the electoral college, but this past election has made me question whether or not it really is a broken system, regardless of my views.
To put it into less harsh terms, consider a simple tennis match. If you lost three sets whose scores were 6:0, 4:6, 4:6, you still lost, even though you won more games. If the rules were different, you, in all likelihood, would have chosen a different strategy to play with, and you may have won more sets. Likewise, if the rules of the election were different, Trump’s campaign strategies may have been drastically different.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that, while past campaigns were not as nasty and divisive as this one, they were not friendly, either. Negative campaigning is a norm in the United States: it goes as far back as the campaign of Thomas Jefferson, wherein he was the target of the phrase “Mr. Jefferson’s Congo Harem”, referring to the fact that Jefferson bore several children by one of his slaves.
After the campaign, President-elects usually tone down their rhetoric, and this is the case in this election as well. This campaign was most definitely fierce, and while that is not necessarily the way it should be, the campaign is in the past.
We are most likely going to see a different Trump now: one may argue that this is already what we’re seeing. He has referred to Clinton as “very strong and very smart”, and he has been willing to talk to his most vocal opponents such as Mitt Romney and current president Barack Obama.
It’s also important to understand that we should not be hung up on the past. The results of the election are almost certainly locked into place. Now that the fight is over, it’s time to start constructive talks and work together. We as a nation have to put our opinions aside, unite, and work with what we have.
Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, who has been largely critical of Trump, has even tweeted “Congratulations to @realDonaldTrump. I for one give him my most open mind and wish him great success in his service to the country.”
If that isn’t convincing enough, Trump’s polar opposites have said largely the same thing. Senator Bernie Sanders said, “To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him.” Our very own senator, Elizabeth Warren, stated, “President-elect Trump promised to rebuild our economy for working people, and I offer to put aside our differences and work with him on that task.”
That is exactly the kind of mentality that the United States ought to adopt. Instead of fighting for a different result, we have to come together as a nation and wish the President-elect good luck and a successful career.
Now, I ask my readers the following question: do you hate Trump more than you love your country?
If the answer is “yes”, then I have no words to offer. However, if the answer is “no”, then I urge you to give our democratically-elected president a chance. If you don’t like him– and I’m sure many of you don’t– vote him out in four years. That’s the beauty of our democracy; few things are permanent, and the president certainly isn’t one of them.
Let’s keep unification, good listening, and best wishes in our minds. The end goal for each and every one of us is the same: progress that leads to a better United States. So, we should do exactly that– let’s stop protesting, come together as one nation, and wish the President-elect the very best for the next four years. Maybe, just maybe, our nation will see some improvement.