As I was driving home from dance tonight (yes, I take a dance class—tap, if you must know. Perhaps I will make that “interesting fact #2…”), the NPR commentator was talking about “the surprise election of Donald Trump.” This was not the first time I had heard these words today. It seems that the outcome of yesterday’s election was a surprise to many people.
It should not have been a surprise. There were, essentially, two candidates running, and one of them was going to win. I suppose too many people had already decided the election results weeks in advance, and they put stock in their choice as the only possible option. They didn’t consider that the other candidate might win. And in that way, it was a surprise.
My own ballot was lacking a candidate who represented my values as a single mother working two jobs, as a person of faith, as someone who values kindness and respect. There was no one who seemed to represent the honesty and integrity I want in the person who is running my country. Perhaps the difficulty I had making any choice at all made it easier for me to accept the outcome.
My son voted for the first time in this election. And all day, I have been dealing with my students, individuals who also voted for the first time. These young voters, they are passionate and full of youthful energy and inexperience. The last time we had a new president, they were ten or eleven and so entrenched in their own childhoods that they barely noticed the passing of the torch, no matter how upset or anxious or elated their parents might have been.
Right now, these young voters are upset and fearful. They are reeling from what is their first major setback, and they are looking to us to set the tone for how we move on from “the surprise election of Donald Trump.” On social media, many people have said, “What am I going to tell my children?”
Well, here’s a thought. Tell them our country has a new President. Tell them that this president may be a good president or he may be a bad president, but he is our president. Therefore, it is our job, as Americans, to come together to support him, to guide him, to pray for him, and to help him to make this country the best it can be.
We can help him by being kind to each other. We can strengthen our country by joining together and loving and respecting one another, by being role models for our children, by healing the divisiveness that has characterized this election. After all, when you say you hate your neighbor, friend, family member, etc. because he/she voted for a different candidate than you did, what does that say about you?
No, we may not agree. But it is our job to support our president—whether we agree with the choice or not—because we are all in this together. We the People will set the tone for the next four years. Together. We will either all go down together, or we will all rise up together.
My daughter, in her youthful wisdom, said to me, “We haven’t even given him a chance yet. Maybe he will surprise us.” Because when we approach new situations with an open mind, we might just be pleasantly surprised. I, for one, am holding out hope that this is one of those times.