Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

What now: unity over division

The election of Donald Trump has less of an impact on me than it does for some people. My heart’s not breaking, I am not fearful and I am not disgusted by the result. I am not disappointed in the 59 and-a-half million people who voted for Trump, despite the fact that I did not vote for him. I do not think our country is going to ruin, and I do not think that minority groups should be in fear for their lives. My curiosity has been forcibly peaked beyond all measure. I also do not wish to trivialize the emotions of those who feel the complete opposite of me right now. I cannot pretend that there aren’t people who are facing starkly different personal realities. But Trump didn’t win because of racism, because of “whitelash” to an African-American president. In fact, Trump won fewer whites than Romney, and more African-Americans and Latinos than Romney did. Trump won because he captured the hearts and imaginations of the disaffected, the down-and-outs and those who resent a system that ignores them – and also because many couldn’t stand the corruption of his opponent.

It would be foolish to think that my reaction to the outcome of this election means that the opposite kind of response is “wrong.” Why the mourning? Why the devastated postures, defeated demeanors and intense hatred? Why the dramatic and yet sincere cries of fear echoing around the internet? My first thought is that there are people who are disappointed that their candidate did not win. There is something that this doesn’t explain, though. This theory does not rightly and fully explain both the fear and the hatred that has been directed at Trump, his supporters or at the cosmic injustices of the universe. Never has there been such a dissenting non-acceptance of a president-elect. I think the fact that resonates in people’s sorrowful minds is not who lost, but is who won. Trump has been demonized and vilified by the left, as Clinton has been decried and criminalized by the right.

Interestingly enough, both candidates faced some form of unprecedented scrutiny from within their own parties. This is no longer an issue of differing ideas of provision, however. The country is both divided because we don’t agree on core principles and values as well as because we disagree on how to solve issues. This clown show election is not a reflection of our politicians, but of us; these two dreadful candidates can only be blamed on us. Presidential candidates are downstream from politics, politics is downstream from culture, and cultural change is the responsibility of the church. We are the fools if we cannot recognize the division that we are creating, not divided by our candidates but by ourselves. We cannot assume the motivations or character of a person because of whomever they supported. Some people willingly buy into the mudslinging from one side of the aisle to the other, instead of trying to extend their hand across it. We would rather assume that someone with an opposing viewpoint, especially one who has just won, is an intolerable wretch so as to affirm our own beliefs.

To those that voted for Trump, don’t ignore the fears of illegal immigrants, Muslims, members of the LGBTQ community and minorities, no matter how rational or irrational they may appear. Why? Because you’ve been in the same place as they are now, like when you feared for the lives of the unborn, the rights of Americans, the political targeting of your friends and for the lives of our law enforcement. To those who voted for Hillary Clinton, don’t label your opponents as racists, misogynists, homophobic and bigoted, because when they get sick of being labeled as such they just might go out and vote against your candidate – which is clearly what they did.

People harbor various truths that they hold self-evident, and instead of denouncing the ideas we disagree with, we need hold fast to our principles while opening our hearts and ears to those on the other side. This sort of regressive approach to democracy is evident in the popular hashtag #notmypresident. Whoever was your president of choice, Donald J. Trump will be the president of the United States for the next four years. Some may believe that this inaugurates the impending doom of their way of life. I cannot and do not wish to reject or commend those sentiments. I can only empathize and encourage you to be patient. Maybe we will soon see the treachery of a black-hearted man carrying out a will of cruelty and malice, but maybe we won’t; let us judge President-elect Trump on how he governs now that he is president and not on how we fear that he will.

Hillary Clinton spoke Wednesday in her concession speech of owing the president-elect “an open mind and a chance to lead.” Despite having accused Trump of racism and sexism, despite calling him “unfit” to lead and despite calling his supporters “deplorables”, she still encouraged her supporters to give him a chance, a chance to prove her wrong. Before any certainty can be reached, we cannot continue to blame the striking division of beliefs and values solely on candidates who were nearly equally supported. We cannot enter this stage of our country in fear. That is how we inhibit progress, and that is how we grow to hate.

Donald Trump will be president. He will be MY president, and I will do my duty to grant him the honor and respect that he and the office of the president merits. I will respect him just as all citizens must. In turn, Donald Trump must honor his sacred duty to us as president; he is our servant — we are not his servants. As president he is responsible for fulfilling his duty to all citizens, not just the ones who voted for him.

I pray for Donald Trump. I pray that God will bless Donald Trump greatly and that he will understand that all blessings come from on high. And I pray that God will give him wisdom and that his mind will be opened to wise counsel. He will certainly need it as troubled times approach.

I was encouraged by Trump’s victory speech. It was extraordinarily gracious, when he could have struck out, taken revenge or slandered both the former GOP opponents who opposed him as well as former Secretary Clinton. Trump’s speech was what we needed to hear, it was what many of us hoped to hear and it felt sincere. I pray that it was sincere.

Perhaps I don’t fear right now because I truly have nothing to fear; moreover perhaps people are in fear right now because they truly have everything to fear. However, one thing I can say I am more afraid of than anything, is a divide that grows deeper and more malevolent; not because of our upcoming president, but because of all of us. I did not believe Trump could win and he has proven me wrong. I hope he does the same for all of us who have judged his character and leadership.

*Though written by two authors, this article is presented as one voice.


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