It’s been about a day since it became clear to me that Donald Trump was going to become the next President of the United States. Despite what the polls were saying, I knew there was a chance—this wasn’t a complete shock to me—but like many I truly thought Hillary would win the presidency. If you know me, you know that’s what I wanted. I believe she was truly qualified to hold our highest office. In fact, I supported her when she ran against Obama in 2008. But like so many others, I believed Donald Trump to be dangerous. I still do. And I’m sad, angry and more than a little scared that he won. That’s where I’m at right now.
But here’s also where I’m at right now. We can’t do anything about what happened. We can learn from it and we can prepare ourselves for at least four years of challenges and sadly, steps in the wrong direction. We can support, help and stand up for our fellow Americans, particularly in the face of hatred. We can make donations to the causes that we believe in. And we can comfort each other during the scary times. Because, my friends, it IS going to get scary at times.
But there’s one other thing that I plan to do. Plenty of Trump’s support came from hate groups. We really need to be honest with ourselves about that. But we also need to be honest about the fact that MOST of his support did not. In fact, many people who voted for him did so with little enthusiasm. Remember, he was one of the most unpopular candidates in history (unfortunately, so was Hillary). For many people, he really was the lesser of two evils. Personally, I don’t understand how someone can see a person who has said and done the things Trump has as a lesser evil than Hillary, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect you if you do.
I have a lot of concerns regarding the state of our nation, but one of my biggest is how divided we are. I’ve seen a lot of tweets or Facebook posts over the past 24 hours telling people to unfollow them or unfriend them if they supported Trump. Well, for myself, that’s not what I want. I’m not sure how many Trump voters are following me on Twitter or have friended me on Facebook, but if you’re one of them, please don’t unfollow me. Clearly you’ve put up with all of my pro-Clinton posts over the past six months, which suggests you’re tolerant of other views. That’s a good thing. In fact, considering the state we’re in, I’d say it’s a great thing. And I need to get better at this myself.
If you voted for Trump, I will likely never agree with your politics and you probably won’t agree with mine, but I can still respect them and try to understand them. We can both strongly feel differently about something and still engage with each other, be friendly, and ultimately agree to disagree. That’s what I see missing in so much of the social media discourse on both sides, and don’t kid yourself if you’re more liberal like I am, we liberals are as bad about it as conservatives. I get that many people are angry—like I said, I am too—but that anger can’t warp us into seeing citizens who disagree with us as our enemy.
So yes, if you’re a Trump voter who didn’t vote out of hate (let’s be clear, I have zero respect for racism or sexism), but still feel like Trump better reflects your beliefs than Hillary did, don’t unfollow me and don’t be afraid to express your disagreement if I tweet something politically that you disagree with. You’re not likely to change my opinion and I realize I’m unlikely to change yours, but we can still remain friendly with each other. As Americans, we need to understand other perspectives, even if we don’t agree with them. Otherwise, we’ll never be able to work together, and it’ll always be a fight, with the side out of power angry and hateful toward the side in power. That will literally tear our country apart. If our nation has any chance of healing this divide—and I realize that if it’s even possible, it’s going to take a while—it needs to start at the personal level. And I intend to do my part.