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Observer Editorial: What comes next

| Friday, November 11, 2016

Whether your emotions in the three days since the election have led to tears of joy or sorrow, feelings of ecstasy or despair, hopefulness or hopelessness about what will happen over the next four years, these emotions are understandable — and, more importantly, valid. At the conclusion of a hard-fought, monumental election, having strong emotional reactions should be expected. Intense reactions are signs of being invested in not just an election, but in the future of the country and the world. These experiences should never be discounted.

Over the coming days and weeks, everyone needs to be given a space to breathe. Whether people are upset — as we’ve seen this week with protests both on the Notre Dame campus and around the country — or excited, we must try to understand why. Once we have had a chance to process our emotions though, to move through these initial feelings, it is important to sit down, come together and move forward.

If you supported Clinton or a third-party candidate in this election, it’s important not to lose fervor in the causes you care about now that the election is over. Democracy is a two-way street, an ever-evolving conversation that needs to continue throughout the next four years. Simply looking forward to 2020 with a countdown clock is not productive. Being the minority party in both chambers of Congress does not preclude Democrats or third parties from offering productive solutions to America’s problems.

Recognize there are other outlets for political involvement in the hiatus between elections. Political and social change comes through any number of avenues beyond the voting booth. If you disagree with a decision made at national or state or local levels, speak up between now and 2020. Whether you’re on the left or right side of our political spectrum, support and join organizations fighting for the change you wish to bring about, and the ideals you aspire to. Keep fighting; make your voice heard every day, not just at the polls every other November.

If you supported Trump, and voted down-ballot for Republicans, your party has an immense responsibility to lead this nation forward. Do not take that responsibility lightly. Clinton supporters need to step forward and engage in conversation about the country’s future, and Trump supporters need to host opportunities for and participate in those conversations. Instead of blocking opposing viewpoints on your social media feeds, take the effort to dig beyond the personalized Facebook content and educate yourself on policies from left- and right-leaning news sources. No party and no candidate has the answers to all of the questions this nation will grapple with in the next four years.

When we come together in conversation, it’s important to try to understand where our friends and peers are coming from. A person’s background significantly impacts their outlook on the world, and each of us has a different maturation story. If you’re enthusiastic about Trump’s victory, try to understand why many of your fellow citizens — including immigrants, people of color and LGBTQ individuals — woke up Wednesday scared about their futures in the United States. If you had hoped for a Clinton victory, work to understand why the significant electorate of rural America put its faith behind Trump. If you voted for another candidate because you felt you could support neither Trump nor Clinton, try to fully understand the reasoning of those who cast ballots for major party candidates.

As we try to understand what motivates and drives our fellow Americans after an incredibly contentious election, we need to move forward in a way that significantly changes our discourse. Nothing is accomplished by blanketing all Trump supporters as bigots, and nothing is accomplished by dismissing Clinton supporters as out-of-touch and unthinking liberals. Don’t resort to name-calling; rather seek to understand those who do not share your same experiences. Beginning a truly empathetic conversation may be fraught with emotion, but these exchanges are critical to understanding one another in an increasingly divisive political atmosphere.

For many college students, this was the first presidential election in which they could vote, but decades down the road, our generation will be the one that leads America and the world. We can start that journey by reacting productively to this moment. This election is most likely a turning point in our country’s history, and is one of the biggest moments our generation has ever witnessed. How we proceed today, and in the days to come — whether we come together or remain divided, whether we’re open to discussion or shut down all forms of communication — will likely indicate how our generation will lead in 25 or 30 years.

As we move on from Tuesday’s results in the coming days, weeks and months, it’s important that we — both as a generation and an overall society — move forward together, ready to discuss the future of our country and ready to take action to solve the problems in front of us.

Our collective future depends on it.

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  • Annette Magjuka

    Perhaps the Young Republicans on campus who “endorsed but did not support” Trump can explain to the Notre Dame community how they justify helping to elect the most openly racist, misogynistic, bully that has ever run for office. The ends justify the means? I am horrified by this election. I am outraged by the false equivalencies that passed for “news,” the glossing over Trump’s disgusting personal and business failings, and the ongoing merciless attacks against Hillary Clinton, arguably the most qualified candidate in US history. The results tell women that the most qualified woman will lose to the least qualified man. This is beyond depressing. For the priests who told congregations that it is a mortal sin to vote for Hillary, shame on you. To the country and the Catholic community: I urge you to remember the roots of our faith. We stand for the dignity for all and the inclusion of all. Trump is not a good man who happens to have a different political view from the Democrats. He is an openly racist bigot who would exclude and persecute vast numbers of Americans. Catholics of conscience must stand up to this. It will not be possible to “come together as a country” until the safety and dignity of Muslims; Mexicans; all immigrants, documented and undocumented; African Americans and all brown skinned people; and WOMEN of all colors–is ensured. It is now the responsibility of the GOP to ensure this safety and dignity to all in no unequivocal terms. Only then can our country be unified.

  • Punta Venyage

    Nicely written piece and such a mindset is great all of us to unite and make America better for everybody.

    “If you’re enthusiastic about Trump’s victory, try to understand why many
    of your fellow citizens — including immigrants, people of color and
    LGBTQ individuals — woke up Wednesday scared about their futures in the
    United States.”

    The answer to this is simply that media and the establishment LIED to you and deliberately tried to induce this fear.

    Please reevaluate all of the beliefs you have had about this election with fresh eyes, and you will see that we can all benefit and make this an incredible four years.

    • João Pedro Santos

      Are you seriously insinuating that a billionaire rapist who never paid taxes and was elected because of a system which allows him to be elected without the popular vote is not part of the establishment?

      • Punta Venyage

        A “rapist” – seriously?

        “never paid taxes” – You should take an intro to business class (i.e. accounting 101) so you can learn how tax deductions work.

        There are many benefits of an electoral college system, but there’s room for healthy discussion for popular vote vs electoral college.

        And yes, if you have been following the election this last year, both through the primaries and the general, the political class (both GOP and Democrat) and the pundits/consultants tried to take Trump down.

        I don’t suppose you’re arguing that when they say “Trump hates everybody; he’s going to nuke the whole world, he is a Russian secret agent, etc. etc.)” they were actually just kidding and trying to help him win because he is one of them, are you?

        • João Pedro Santos

          “A “rapist” – seriously?”

          “”never paid taxes” – You should take an intro to business class (i.e. accounting 101) so you can learn how tax deductions work.”
          Oh right, “that makes him smart”. I totally forgot it!

          “There are many benefits of an electoral college system”
          For a party which won the election without winning the popular vote twice in 16 years I surely believe that are many benefits…

          “the political class (both GOP and Democrat) and the pundits/consultants tried to take Trump down”
          That’s a good joke. The GOP, as the extremist group it is, decided to proudly embrace Drumpf. Even after Drumpf insulted its members, like for example:
          – When he said McCain wasn’t a war hero because we has captured and he liked people who weren’t captured.
          – When he called Carly Fiorina ugly.
          – When he called Marco Rubio short.
          But well, the GOP likes bullying so much that they don’t seem to care when they’re bullied. And Drumpf also talked about the possibility of using nuclear weapons as well as giving them to Saudi Arabia, which has one of the worst regimes on Earth. So those concerns seem pretty valid to me.

          • Punta Venyage

            1) I’m not going to engage discussion with a Wikipedia page, I’m talking with you. Please present to me what specific instance you know of where Trump “raped” a woman.

            2) You dodged the question on taxes, so I assume you concede ignorance on the matter

            3) Yes there are benefits for the electoral college, and you have indicated that you agree.

            4) Of course as he wins, many people who once publicly opposed him will publicly convert to the winning side – pure political Machiavellianism .

            What do you think Bernie was doing when he started publicly supporting Hillary? Do you think he was happy about getting blackmailed and having the primary essentially taken from him by the DNC?

            Generally speaking, a criticism of an individual is not an attack on the whole. So your question really is more, why are John McCain, Carly Florina, and Marco Rubio supporting him? I don’t know that McCain and Florina are supporting him, but I know Marco is, and is probably doing so because of either A) see above or B) he is not a toddler and can see past mutual insults (besides, remembers Trump’s little hands and p, and other jokes by him etc.) and look at the big picture issue

            5) Show me what you are referring to. Trump would be more detrimental to Saudi Arabia than helpful, relative to others, given his stance on Syria and his publicly voiced opposition to them and their culture. He has even indirectly implied their association with 9/11…

          • João Pedro Santos

            “3) Yes there are benefits for the electoral college, and you have indicated that you agree.”
            Yes, I agree that the electoral college has benefits for the party who only won the popular vote once since 1988. If you think that’s a good thing, then there’s a problem with you.