I’ve been wanting to share my political opinions since Wednesday morning, when all of social media exploded. But, I’ve refrained until now because I didn’t want to add to the division and anger. And, what could I possibly say that would be any different than anything anyone else said?
But, yesterday, my pastor preached this beautiful message on reconciliation (you can hear it here, if you’d like. And look for my blonde head in the choir). And more than anything else, that’s what I want for our country. Yes, we were basically evenly divided in this election, and we have seen a lot of division in various ways over the past few years: the 1% vs. Occupiers; the police versus black men; black vs. white, in general; conservative vs. liberal – and it goes on.
But, we also have an amazing history of uniting together when circumstances demand it: 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and many others. We also remember we’re all Americans during less tragic events, too: the Olympics, cheering on the Cubs (because, honestly, if you were against the Cubs, you might not have a heart. Or you’re just from Cleveland), celebrating the 4th of July, etc.
I am a conservative voter, which I think is common knowledge to anyone who knows me reasonably well. As such, I was faced with an impossible choice. I couldn’t vote for Mrs. Clinton, because I disagree with her on almost every policy issue. But, I also thought President-elect Trump lacked the depth of character and maturity I wanted in a President, and I disapproved of many things he said before and during the campaign. (He was not my choice in the primaries.) So, what do I do? Vote my conscience and pick a 3rd party candidate, thus ensuring a victory for Clinton? I might as well just vote for her, then. Or, vote for the man whose conservatism runs about as deep as the creek in my neighborhood and hope for the best.
Ultimately, I decided on Trump (3 days before the election) for one reason: he will pick more conservative justices than Hillary, and that has farther-reaching consequences than just the next 4 years. I had to make a decision somehow; that was my method.
I didn’t vote for him because I’m uneducated. I didn’t vote for him because I hate black people, or gay people, or Muslims. I voted for him because faced with very bad choices, he was the best for me and what I believed to be best for the country. I also voted for him because I don’t believe his Twitter rhetoric is reflective of the policies that will actually be enacted during his presidency. Congress and the Supreme Court are there to prevent extremism of one person. And let’s be honest, when was the last time a politician honored all the things they said during the campaign?
I hate that a few people have taken his election as justification for unkindness and even hate – on both sides of the aisle. We don’t solve problems in this country through rioting. We also don’t kick out people because they look or sound or believe differently than we do. We are a country that welcomes the “tired, [the] poor, [the] huddled masses yearning to breathe free”; we are a country where, at one point in their family history, every citizen, unless they are Native American, looked, sounded, and/or believed differently than those already here.
My point is that I won’t apologize for voting for Trump, and that’s okay. So is voting for Hillary, if that’s where your convictions brought you. So, is voting for a 3rd party candidate. Our country is made richer by diversity – of skin colors, of ethnic backgrounds, of outlooks on life. But only if we celebrate and honor those differences instead of letting them divide us. Because if we’re all mad at each other, then no one has won.
So, I’ll start. I didn’t realize until this election how diverse my own friend group had become. Going to a conservative Christian college, and then working at one, the last few elections have been pretty one-sided on my Facebook. This time, though, my newsfeed reflected the American population – split 50/50 between jubilation and despondency. Approximately half of my friends voted differently than I did, and while I might disagree with their decision, I still love my left-leaning friends. Here are some of the reasons why:
- They are passionate.
- When they believe in a cause, they fight for it. Their convictions run deep.
- They are fiercely loyal.
- They care for the marginalized and want to see a better life for every person.
- Although the majority of my liberal friends are white and middle-class, many are most upset about the election because they fear the consequences for other people – the urban poor, minority populations, etc.
- On Veteran’s Day, they pushed pause on election talk to honor the military.
- They, like me, believe in America and want to see it become the best that it can be.
We may not agree on everything; we may not agree on most things. But, we are all Americans, and in that is the beauty of the United States. We are just that – united. United in our common bond as citizens of the greatest country on earth – where different factions and people of varying beliefs and outlooks can not only live side-by-side without war, but can actually be friends. On social media and in real life.
I’m actually very optimistic about the next 4 years. Maybe that’s because I am an eternal optimist, anyway. Maybe it’s because I believe in our system of checks and balances and know that anything too radical will be stopped before it gets out of hand. And maybe, just maybe, a bit of a shake-up will be a good thing. But, mostly I’m optimistic because I believe in the fabric of American society. Our friends, family, acquaintances, and fellow citizens who disagree with us may frustrate us, but they are not the enemy. We’re all in this together. Let’s remember that over the next two months, 4 years, and in the generations to come.
I’ve heard the word “love” thrown around a lot lately. Let’s actually do it, and let our unity be what spurs us to greater heights as a nation, regardless of who is president. I’m in. Will you join me?