Before Election Day, I had gone back and forth on whether or not to vote for a major party candidate despite my disdain for both of them. In the end I chose to write in a candidate who I felt was truly fit for the job, but there were many others with the same convictions as my own that came to a different conclusion. Some of these people voted for Hillary Clinton and some voted for Donald Trump, but what I have seen in the last day and a half though is an overwhelming hatred–yes, hatred for those who made the latter choice. So many people have blatantly accused all who voted for Trump as being bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic racists with a mission to destroy our country. They have said they were disgusted with anyone who voted for Trump and, despite their calls a day earlier to go out and vote, happily sent a big “F*** You” to anyone who exercised that right by filling in a different bubble than their own. But the fact is that while a minority of Trump voters would certainly fall under those labels, the vast majority voted for him because they believed he was either less corrupt than Clinton or their views were better aligned with his policies than with hers. Think about it– we all expected Trump to get less votes than he did. It seemed like Clinton clearly held a substantial majority and would win the presidency. But then we reached the election and all of those who were quietly supporting Trump or who were simply protesting a Clinton presidency came out to vote in surprising numbers. These were not the racists you saw in your news feed. These were the people who had to make a difficult decision and chose to make it based on policy. I understand the anger that some people are feeling. Trump is clearly not an ideal president and yes, his words are often crude and hurtful. But before you judge people for voting for him, remember that people vote for many different issues. People vote for national security, foreign policy change, economic growth, etc. This does not mean that they are racist, homophobic, or misogynistic individuals. It means that they are looking past their feelings to vote for the kind of change they think our country needs most or, at minimum, to prevent change in what they perceive as the wrong direction.
Think of the election as a prescription for a moment. You go to the doctor and find out you have a terminal illness– but good news! There are two prescriptions available to treat you. One is curative, but it results in feelings of depression and anxiety. The other is palliative. You’ll feel great, but you’re still going to die because the illness is not being treated. Which do you choose?
Wouldn’t most of us choose the curative medicine? We may not like the side effects, but the end result will make it worth it. I guarantee you that this is how many people viewed voting for Donald Trump. The majority of people did not look at the side effects of his presidency and say, “I love his caustic words and arrogance!” No. They said, “I hate the things he says and the way he acts, but if choosing him is the best chance we have at making our country better, then it’s a choice I have to make.”
So those of you who are angry about the results of this election, I urge you to look on your fellow voters with empathy and understand the reasoning behind their votes. And to the Trump supporters who I did not address: please be kind and understanding toward those who disagree with you as well. They may have had a different idea of what America should look like, but both Trump and Hillary supporters wanted to make America great. Let President Obama’s reaction to this election serve as an example to all of us on how to act:
“Everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first.”