When I was little and my mom would tuck me in before I went to bed, we would talk about high points and low points, what I was thankful for that day and what I wanted to do better. Her closing words before turning off the lights were always, “be good and brave and strong and kind.”
Good and brave and strong and kind. Those are really hard characteristics to uphold on their own, much less together. And as I’ve grown up I like to believe I’ve done my best to stay true to these values.
Throughout this election I tried to act with them in mind. I believe it was a good thing to remain engaged with the election process. I watched all of the debates, I read as much as I could from news outlets, press releases, transcripts of the candidates’ speeches. I spoke with family members and friends to hear their opinions in the hopes they would help me better inform or defend my own.
I was good in that I exercised my right to vote. I changed my registration to Pennsylvania where I believed my vote would make more of a difference. I voted in the primaries in April and in the general on Tuesday. And I tried to do more good with my vote by thinking of more than myself when casting my ballot––keeping in mind the millions of religious, racial and LGBTQ+ minorities who could be marginalized, discounted, disenfranchised depending on how the results would swing.
I tried to emulate strength in supporting the message of “stronger together.” Remaining strong as I often questioned how many of my fellow Americans valued my worth and my voice as a young woman. Remaining strong for months facing the unprecedented sexism, racism and fear so apparent in Trump’s campaign, wanting to believe that this is not a man America would submit to.
I tried to be brave in voting for a candidate I was notably more excited about than the majority of our country, but perhaps less wholeheartedly supportive of than some of my peers. I don’t agree with all of Clinton’s stances, and I have my hesitations regarding some of her past actions. But, I believed, and still believe, that she was the best option for our country, for everyone in our country, moving forward.
Throughout this election season I think many of us, regardless of who we supported, had to be brave when defending our candidates, our choices, our opinions, our values. Hopefully we will continue to show bravery as we fight for our rights. It’s not easy to stand up for what you believe in. At a place like Penn, that may not always seem to be the case, with vocal activists often lining Locust walk. But, we’re in a bubble, and a very liberal bubble at that. One that sometimes stifle the voices of those more conservative than the perceived norm.
Trump’s success and the high red turnout shows that many people who perhaps weren’t impassioned by previous candidates, who didn’t feel represented in their government, who didn’t feel motivated to turnout in past elections found a candidate they could stand behind. Or perhaps just a candidate they’d willingly defend if it meant halting the success of Hillary Clinton.
Now, the results are in. The plurality of Americans have made their opinions clear. I can only hope we can move forward into this new chapter for our country with kindness.
I am upset, I am confused, I am afraid. I’m sure many people are. But whether you were victorious on Tuesday or not, be kind to your neighbors. Be kind to your neighbors whether they look like you or not. Be kind to your neighbors no matter their religion or who they love. Perhaps this doesn’t sound in line with ideas put forward by the Trump campaign. But I have to believe, for the sake of our country, that everyone is at some level capable of compassion and understanding.
Be kind to your neighbors whether they voted for Trump or for Clinton. If you are on the same side, great; celebrate or mourn together. If you are on different sides, reconcile and do your best to understand the values, opinions and fears of the other. I don’t just mean different in skin color or sexual orientation, heritage and gender identity. As an upper–middle class, suburban–raised straight white woman receiving a college education, I have a hard time identifying with the trials of poorer, less educated whites from rural areas. I cannot feign to fully understand the life experiences of any of those different from me, whether they come from similar backgrounds or vastly different ones. The results of this election show me that I am obviously disconnected from a large percentage of Americans.
Clinton supporters: fighting for what’s right IS worth it. It is hard, but we must now persevere in the face of perhaps the biggest obstacle we may confront in our lifetimes. I say this knowing I speak from a place of privilege, knowing that I may be one of the least affected by Trump’s future policies. But I hope you will accept me an an ever–improving ally.
Trump supporters: the world is watching.
We cannot move forward as a country if we continue to neglect the validity of those different from us. We must work together to be good and brave and strong and kind.