By Jeremy Hartwick
“Fuck.” “What the hell is wrong with people?” “How did we let this happen?” “Are you kidding me?” “Who do I know in Europe that can take in my family and I?” “What do I need to do to move to Canada?” These are just some of the thoughts that flew through my mind after waking up Nov. 9, 2016 and reading the news. The results of the election did not just upset me; they infuriated and worried me.
Later in the day, my wife described her reaction as being analogous to the stages of grief and that she had been moving back and forth between stages all through the day. “That’s the thing about the stages of grief that people don’t always seem to understand,” I replied. “They’re not so much a linear process as they are a cyclical one. It’s more like the Chutes and Ladders game of grief. Even if you climb all the way up to the top, you might get sent hurtling back down to that first stage of anger all over again.”
The more time I spent dwelling on my negative emotions about the outcome of the race, the more I felt that I needed to stop that. Running to another country was not a real solution: there would still be millions of Americans, some of whom are friends and family, who would be here in the states living with the consequences.
Removing my family from the situation would get us away from it, but it wouldn’t be helping any of the other people I care about. Anger was certainly not going to offer a viable solution. Anger, divisive rhetoric and ignorance are what got us into the situation we woke up to. I’ve been an angry youth that railed impotently against the system and that wasn’t the person I wanted my children to see me as: I wanted to be able to set a better example for them. So that’s what I’ve decided to do. I will try; in whatever way I can, to make the best of this situation. I have chosen to strive for greater patience and understanding in my own behavior. Hopefully, through my example, my children will grow and develop as part of a better generation.
To Hillary Clinton, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, and other establishment Democrats: I truly hope that you take this opportunity to perform some legitimate introspection. A large portion of the blame for the results of this election lie on your shoulders and you need to own that. You disregarded the will of the people you claim to serve and in so doing you divided the vote that would have gone against President-Elect Trump.
Through your political maneuvering, back room deals and corporate financed decisions, you showed a lack of character that drove away potential supporters by the thousands. You cannot blame the Bernie-or-bust movement or the Jill-not-Hill supporters. You yourselves are responsible for dividing the Democratic vote and driving disenfranchised voters towards third party candidates. In one fell swoop you cost yourselves the White House, the Senate, and the House. After paying such a hefty price, I hope you take away some valuable insight from this costly lesson.
To President-Elect Trump: I did not vote for you. My initial reaction to my brother voting for you was to angrily wish we were not related. I still do not understand the choice made by so many people that led to your election. But being angry does not change that fact. My hope for you is that now that you have received this high honor reality settles on your shoulders. Do not focus on the fact that you won. Do not focus on how many more electoral votes you had over Clinton. Focus on the fact that you did not win the popular vote. Concern yourself with the fact that you won because of a broken electoral system. Realize that the Americans that voted against you, either for Clinton or for Jill Stein, outnumber those that voted for you.
The socially progressive population of America does outnumber the conservative side. Please take note of that and do not try to set back civil rights. You are in a position to reevaluate some of the hateful statements you made during your campaign. If you want to make America great, realize that our greatness can only come out of our diversity. If you divide that diversity rather than unifying it, you will only make us weak.
To those who voted for Trump: Statistical data indicates that there are a very high percentage of you that are not college educated. I am asking you to please spend some time reading through some history books. I want you to understand why your chosen candidate has so many people concerned. The clear historical lines of comparison to be drawn are frightening. I understand you not wanting to vote in another corrupt politician, but I do not believe you could happily vote for Trump if you were aware enough of what similar personalities in our past were responsible for when left unchecked.
To all of the female, LGBTQIA+, black, Hispanic or Muslim citizens worried about your future: I am sorry for what you are going through. This situation is especially worrisome and frightening for you. Please know that there are people you can talk to, there are people who support equal treatment and rights and that we will not stop caring for you as fellow human beings.
I’m still unhappy with these results. I do not know when I will reach acceptance and be able to stay there. But I want to hope that there is enough good in the world that we will continue to make progress as a nation, as a species, as a world. For now, I will continue to strive to meet division and hatred with love and acceptance. I see no other way forward.