Post-election protocol sign of nation’s hope, pride
If there is one thing this year’s election has taught us, it is we don’t understand this new global society. In fact, we learned we didn’t always understand our neighbors and friends. We were confident that we Americans all wanted the same things: freedom and opportunities. But we now know we look through completely different eyes when seeing where and how we might achieve or retain freedom and opportunities.
In such times, we can either turn on each other or turn to each other. We don’t need to agree with each other, but we do need to understand those with opposing views.
One of the greatest strengths of our country is we have the right and freedom to follow our own beliefs. With the historic diversity among citizens, we have created a society where often our ideas or actions run into conflicting views or efforts. At our best, we agree to disagree in a respectful and civil manner. At our lowest moments, we shout, condemn and blame those whose practices and motivations differ from ours.
This past election cycle has not been our finest hour in America. Somehow, we got in an old-fashioned shouting match between campaigns, candidates and media. After 18 months of partisan rancor, we just wanted it to be over.
We have been confident that, in our country, we settle our disputes at the ballot box rather than with bullets. The peaceful transition of power has always been a hallmark of our country.
Hillary Clinton, in her concession call to President-elect Donald Trump, offered to work with him for our country. To us she said, ‘We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.’
President Barack Obama noted, ‘We are all on one team. We all want what is best for this country’; ‘We are Americans first.’
These statements may be labeled as just words, but they are traditions of historical significance. President Obama and President-elect Trump sitting together in the Oval Office was a strong visual statement of a steady, ongoing transition in a democracy. We should find hope and pride in such post-election protocol. Many countries have battles with bullets and words as governments change.
This election has brought to the surface massive divisions in our country. People have defined them in various ways: city opportunities opposed to rural economic conditions, whites against minorities, globalists against nationalists, change as opposed to entrenched politics and institutions. No one seemed to see this clash coming, not the pollsters, the pundits nor the politicians. We, the average citizens, are stunned and shocked by both the election’s final numbers and following demonstrations in more than 25 cities.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there have been more than 200 incidents of hateful harassment and intimidation since the election. The unearthing of the divisiveness and rage in our country is frightening but necessary. How will we understand others’ needs and hopes if we do not hear their cries? How will we heal the wounds of our nation if we fear and distance ourselves from each other? We need to look to the bigger good. We cannot say, ‘Your hurt doesn’t matter but ours does.’
The American dream is big enough for all of us if we work as a team. In his acceptance speech, President-elect Trump said, ‘To all Republicans and Democrats and Independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.’ ‘We will seek common ground, not hostility,’ he said. ‘Partnership, not conflict.’
It is important that the institutions and traditions of our representative and participatory democracy stay strong. Today, much of the movement is in the form of words, but words turn into actions and either uphold or undermine our form of government. It behooves us all to stay vigilant and involved in the remodeling of our country’s future. The battle goes on, but we cannot silence anyone’s voice in the journey.
The protests that erupted across the country took me by surprise. The voting was over; the president selected. Where were these voices in the past months?
Attention to issues in our country is a good thing. The right to peaceful protest is a basic American right as stated in the First Amendment to our constitution. Our country’s history is marked by such protests. They have impacted thinking and changed actions. Remember the marches in the South for racial equality and the protests of the Vietnam conflict?
The citizens in the streets these nights know their president has been duly elected. They want the new administration to be aware of their needs and hopes for the future. With guns readily available and the use of drugs on the increase, it behooves all of us to pray for the miracle of a truly peaceful protest movement.
This past weekend, in the Brown County town of Beanblossom, St. David’s Episcopal Church was vandalized; hateful words were written on the walls. We must all respond with an affirmation that, in our country, all people are valued, included and protected under the law.
Political elections come and go, and each one is different and important, but more important than candidates and even immediate policies is the perseverance of our ‘one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.’