“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”
I heard these words crackle over AM radio as I drove home at 3 a.m. Wednesday from a late night of reporting on a Trump election party. The moment was almost eerie – I was sitting alone in the car, the streets around me empty, feeling as if I was alone in some alternate universe (where Trump wins the presidency and offers a call for unity).
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the presidential election this week, as I think we all have. I’ve tried to absorb as much as I can before writing a piece like this, and I think after a few days of reflection, I’m in a good place to share my thoughts.
What has blown me away this week are two things: the outpouring of love and support on behalf of so many marginalized communities, but at the same time a scary willingness to broadly mischaracterize a majority of Americans as “racists” or “bigots.”
It seems to me that far too many of us are too eager to dismiss anyone or anything we don’t like. It’s too easy to simply write off Trump supporters or even third-party voters without really engaging their viewpoints or trying to listen to them. And it’s also too easy to write off liberals as “whiny” or “sore losers” without understanding their real fears.
I spent election night as a journalist at the Massachusetts Trump-Pence campaign victory party (see photos at the end of this post), and what I saw in Trumps supporters was not hate, racism or bigotry. What I saw in their eyes was genuine hope for a better future. While I may not be able to say that about Trump himself, I think it’s wildly naive think that people who support him are automatically bad people.
So to Americans on both sides of the aisle, I have two requests:
- Listen to each other. I’m talking about doing more than engaging in Facebook comment wars (which, I’m not proud to say, I’ve done myself). But really try to have a conversation and understand where they’re coming from.
- Try to build bridges, not walls. I know it seems impossible that a Clinton supporter could have any common ground with a Trump supporter, but try to find it.
I know those things are not easy tasks. I’ve been struggling with them myself, and I don’t think I’ve been able to do either quite yet. But we have to try. Like it or not, Trump is our president and we’re not going to get anywhere if we continue to be divided.
In the face of what could be a very tumultuous next four years, all we can do right now is love one another. Love trumps hate.