There are times in our lives when it’s difficult to accept an outcome. The implications raise scenarios in our heads that fill us with fear. A presidential election is one of those times. The issues we vote on reflect our highest concerns: health, jobs, safety, family, and freedom. We are highly invested in getting what we need to survive. So when it comes to electing a president, we search for a candidate whose stated values align with our own. Each of us has one vote, but when all the ballots are tallied, the majority rules. Did the candidate you prefer win? Is President-elect Trump your candidate of choice? Whether the answer is yes or no, the next question remains the same. Now what?
The election happened last week, and it’s over. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but it’s the electoral vote that is decisive. Donald Trump became the President-elect of the United States and here’s how the AP announced it.
“Donald John Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, in a stunning culmination of an explosive, populist, and polarizing campaign that took relentless aim at the institutions and long-held ideals of American democracy.
The surprise outcome, defying late polls that showed Hillary Clinton with a modest but persistent edge, threatened convulsions throughout the country and the world, where skeptics watched with alarm as Mr. Trump’s unvarnished overtures to disillusioned voters took hold.
The triumph for Mr. Trump, 70, a real estate developer-turned-reality television star with no government experience, was a powerful rejection of the establishment forces that had assembled against him. “ — Associated Press
I remember Trump and his reality TV show, The Apprentice. He was the boss who sat behind a huge desk, assigning projects to willing performers and judging their impact. And when someone’s performance fell below expectation, he announced clearly and without ambiguity, “You’re fired!” Well, today Trump is preparing to be boss of a new, bigger, reality show. He's about to become leader of this nation and the free world. Before making his official acceptance speech, he posted this electronically on www.donaldjtrump.com.
“We showed America the silent majority is no longer silent. Today, we created an America that WINS again. Today, we made our hopes, our dreams – our limitless potential – a reality. Today, we made history. Today, we created a government that is once again of, by and for the people. Thank you, America. I will not let you down. I will always be your voice. I will always be your champion. Now it’s time to get to work – to unite, to prosper, to become stronger. Together, I have no doubt we have taken the first step to Make America Great Again!"
As president, cameras will follow him, his family, and the new teams he puts in place, onto a global stage. We will watch his inauguration, and his family’s move into the White House. Reporters will snap photos of him in his new oval office. Cameras will film his effectiveness in collaborating with members of the House of Representatives, and the Senate. Global news reports will announce the outcome of his strategies, collaborations, negotiations, and treaties. The press, world leaders, and citizens of this, and other countries, will report on the impact of his policies – this time not from his point of view, but from theirs. The world is watching and waiting to measure his impact.
Four years from now there will be another election. Once again the role of “boss” becomes ours. It will be our turn to judge his performance; our turn to say, “Your fired!” if he fails to meet the high expectations we have of our presidents. Mr. Trump likes big challenges; he likes to be acknowledged; and he likes to win. He knows that on Tuesday, November 8th, only half of the voting citizens of this nation endorsed his values. His goal is to “Make America Great Again” by changing the business of government; by making it run efficiently, and with measurable impact. We will watch, we will voice our opinions, and in four years, We The People will vote. That’s how democracy works.
But the question, “Now what?” still remains.
The election is over, but there’s more for citizens of a democracy to do. If you’re content with the election outcome, support our President-elect. But you may not be a Trump supporter. You may feel shocked, sad, angry, worried, even anxious about the outcome of this election. So allow yourself to grieve the loss you’re feeling. The election results make it appear that one dream is shattered so another can thrive. But is that true? Can dreams really shatter, or did we learn that the work to be done must take a different direction? We may feel bereft, but the helpless feeling of grief is often complemented by action. Now is the time to refocus.
One of the tenets of democracy is free speech; another is its checks and balances. Clarify what matters, and move into action. Organize. Write. Speak. Exert pressure on state legislators. Communicate the way you want them to vote; let them know you’re holding them accountable to represent your needs, opinions, and desires. Support existing organizations you believe in. And, if you didn’t like the tone or demeanor of this election, be calm and persistent until you are heard.
Gandhi gave us this sage advice, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Trump believes it. Do you?
Etching by Ron Topping