In the 2016 Presidential Election, the U.S was divided. It seemed like arguments, accusations, and indiscriminate bitterness spewed constantly from lips on every side. No parties were blameless in their bashing of the presidential candidates; media sites were having field days, determined to dig up dirt and shovel a hole for either potential president. You couldn’t go on a social media site without something political flashing in your face. Some Thanksgiving dinners were celebrated amid shouts. Some weren’t celebrated at all.
The issue, it seemed, was not necessarily the policies (though the policies were widely disputed and discussed), but the candidates themselves. Whether you were pro-Trump or pro-Clinton, it was obvious that, morally, neither of them were innocent. A trail of scandals, controversy, and lies, whether fabricated or covered up, followed both nominees. I heard several times that this election was about “choosing the lesser evil.”
How awful is that? Politics should be about the welfare of the American people. Certain policies clearly won’t be advantageous to every citizen, but our president’s goal should be the well-being of the whole. A president should represent American values, not only politically, but morally. Hardworking, willing to listen, intelligent, honest, compassionate, trustworthy, motivational, humble: where was the emphasis on these attributes during the presidential race? If most of us can’t accept a boss that doesn’t attempt to embody these values, how can we accept a president that does even less?
It’s not just Trump, though there have been many, many occasions that call his morals into question. It’s the fact that we are unable to listen to each other; the fact that we somehow arrived at an election where neither candidate was the clear (or, some might argue, good) choice. Teenagers and younger children are becoming active in reforming politics, trying to fight injustices that affect them directly. The fact of the matter is that most people are so wrapped up in their own opinions, they are unable to see the good in anything else. It doesn’t matter if you lean left or right: if you are unwilling to listen and try to see someone else’s perspective, you are part of the problem.
Only when we are able to understand each other will we be able to progress. Having and voicing opinions is not the issue. The issue is when we cannot see past or through the screen of our personal opinions to the realization that we are all people. Everyone holds their own beliefs. Everyone has different solutions to problems. Opinions are born of our unique life experiences, and in turn can dictate the way we live our unique lives.
That being said, there will always be those who oppose your beliefs. There will always be consequences of what you say or do. You can never leave everyone satisfied, yet you can make sure you take accountability for your actions. In a country that prides itself on diversity, there are bound to be conflicting opinions. A dash of discussion and debate allows us to refine ourselves, our opinions, and our country. A heap of hostile discussion and uncompromising debate, as well as a garnish of stubbornness, is a recipe for stagnation.
The election of President Donald Trump was the first link in a chain of events. People, especially women, have started to run for local and federal governmental positions. These fresh faces are providing a new direction, questioning why this system is the way it is. The president of the United States should represent all of us, no matter who we are. America was built on the foundation that the common man (or woman) can be elected, because we, the people, wield the power. Only as we the people work to accept and learn from each other, create positive change, and make America better than it currently is, will we be able to move forward as a nation.