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Nation must unite after a race that made us all victims

The nation is sitting in shock. Some feel deflated. Others are jubilant, but even they are surprised.

Despite it all, we are Americans. We are one nation. No matter what we are feeling, we must put aside personal preferences, lick our wounds and come together as one nation.

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The Democratic Party has always been known as a party of acceptance. Here is an opportunity to put that to work and show that acceptance is not only about gays, transsexuals, other races, creeds and colors — it is also about accepting our neighbors even if they didn't choose to vote for your candidate.

I believe that many voters were torn, as I was. We were handed two seriously flawed candidates in Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Because of that, many chose not to vote at all. Others made choices they would not have otherwise made. As a result, many who supported Hillary woke up Wednesday morning feeling sad or angry. That mixed bag of emotions hit me months ago when I realized the choice we had to make and how personal this election had become for many. I didn't think it could get any worse. Then there was Wednesday morning.

Waking up the morning after the election and looking at my Facebook feed was like a punch in the gut. The anger was palpable. One woman wrote, "If you voted for Trump please unfriend me, even if you are family."

It breaks my heart to see anyone in America think, "If you don't believe exactly what I believe I do not want to know you." Where is the acceptance? Another wrote, "Whatever happens in the years ahead know you are responsible." When we can't even predict what our friends will do on a daily basis how can we predict the actions of a candidate we only know through what the media chose to share?

We were faced with one candidate who spouted bigoted remarks with no filter, showing the impulse control of a toddler and another candidate who destroyed phones with hammers and deleted and bleached information that was under subpoena and then was not held accountable. And we were told to make a choice of which of these should lead the nation. In this race we were all victims, not only the losing side.

The thing that made me cringe more than anything else was reading that kindergartners were crying in fear after hearing that Trump had won the presidential race. Why are parents allowing their children to carry this burden of anxiety? Maturity is necessary to handle heavy worries and without it irrational fear grows. If children saw it on television why didn't parents talk to them to allay their worries? Why didn't they explain the fact that no one person has complete power in the United States of America? Thank God, there are checks and balances in place to protect us.

When I feel overwhelmed by the strife caused by this election I think of a family member who told me after President Obama was voted into office that he was terrified. And because he didn't support Obama he was called a racist. That tore him up, because — as he said — his fear had nothing to do with race. He was afraid national health care and other proposed programs would triple the national debt. We'd have to reduce the size of our military and become vulnerable to attack. That was his view. I voted for Obama without any of that fear, but I acknowledged that his fears were valid and he had a right to have them. Then the debt did skyrocket and the military did suffer despite all the good.

I've learned that each voter looks at candidates from their position in life. If someone is a blue-collar worker who's lost his job because 70,000 factories left the nation after NAFTA was put into place and who now works at job he hates for much less money and whose health care has skyrocketed so that now can barely make the bills, he may look at Trump as someone who can bring factories back and restore life as he knows it.

On the flip side, if a voter is someone who was born gay — someone who faced discrimination his entire life and could not receive the benefits or tax credits that come with marriage — he may want to stick with the party who preserves his newly gained right to marry. Lest you think those rights are no big deal know that my dear twin brother was with his partner for over 30 years. When his partner passed of cancer, my brother had to pay taxes on half the house they jointly owned, half the belongings and half of the value of their vehicles, and all that after being reduced to a single income. It broke him. They foreclosed on his house and he took his own life.

Everyone who voted had personal reasons to make the choices they made. Now, it is our responsibility — our duty — to accept the results and do our best to move on as a united nation. Divisive language toward others who did not vote as you did do not help this nation heal.

Even German's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, "The result is different from what most people in Germany desired. But of course we have to accept it."

After absorbing the shock of her loss overnight, Clinton stated, "Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead."

And President Obama, in a gracious speech said, "We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country."

And that is what we need to do. Have an open mind. Root for success. Accept the will of the people. Accept all others who are not your clone.

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Sometimes you have to say your prayers, sit back and give things a chance, even if it is not what you wanted. Who knows, we may be pleasantly surprised. And if not, we have the right to choose again in four more years.

Lois Szymanski is a Carroll County resident and can be reached at loisszymanski@hotmail.com.



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