By Montana Willis
At approximately 2:55 a.m. EST on November 9, 2016 America, as a society, as a nation, as a world power, as a government, and as an ideal changed forever. Millions fortunate enough to have made it this late into the night watched President-elect Donald J. Trump walk out onto the stage to deliver his “victory” speech. He had won.
You couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it; he, she and they couldn’t believe it either. For the past few months, it seemed inevitable that there would be another Clinton President. Hillary Clinton would likely claim that title with ease as her opponent continued to flounder with the media over what seemed like a never-ending carousel of issues. But guess what? They were wrong! Almost everyone was wrong about this one and not in the way that you still get partial credit wrong but the kind of wrong where the teacher demands you stay after class.
Now of course, you had to have some who got it right, like Harlan Hill who laid out on Twitter exactly what was going to happen later that night. But did he even really believe that this long shot would happen, or was that his conservative journalistic duty? It doesn’t matter anymore. How Trump somehow managed an upset comparable to your local high school football team beating Alabama does not matter to me and you as normal Americans. Let the analysts and numerical masterminds worry about how they screwed this one up, because it is now the time for Americans to do what we have always done: persevere.
“Keep the faith,” I annoyingly echoed early last week as the Chicago Cubs entered a game that they should have never been in. They won, and everyone in Cleveland was pissed. Now, I know that baseball and the free world have very different implications, but, I can’t help but make this analogy. I’m not saying you have to keep the faith in Trump, Ryan, Pence, or any other individual but you, no, WE have to keep the faith that our systems and institutions will withstand this test just as they have so many times before.
America may have changed forever in the wee morning hours of the ninth, but the people of this great nation can not and will not follow suit. WE will hold true to the beliefs set forth by our founding fathers. We will continue to unify. We will continue to succeed as this nation has done and will do forever. You can be upset, angry,and disillusioned, as I was, but what WE cannot be is hostile, violent, and ignorant to the world around us.
So long as WE THE PEOPLE continue to embody the values and support the institutions that have got us to where WE, as a nation, are today. Then the individual in the Oval Office shall not affect the lives of Americans or anyone else in the international community.
Moving on to the real problem of this election: voter turnout. Is it too bold to say that in the most historic (insane) election cycle ever between two of the highest profile candidates ever, that voter turnout is America’s biggest problem? Absolutely not, and not even because of the unforgivable low percentage of eligible voters that somehow find time in their unbelievably busy schedules to make it to the polls.
Yes, I believe that everyone in this great nation that is eligible should vote in every election, especially in an election with so many domestic and international implications. And yes, I believe that if you did not cast a vote then you may politely or impolitely, whichever you may choose, SHUT UP! Please, again, note I did not say that if you cast a ballot for the losing candidate then you shouldn’t continue to voice your opinions of opposition. In fact, it’s encouraged, because without “ambition to counteract ambition” (James Madison, back in the day) our democracy would lack a foundation.
I have not always felt this strongly about exercising one’s right to vote or about one’s actions following that decision. However, during this election cycle, this ideal became one that I held close. Voting is the key to Americans making their voice heard to their elected officials. “My vote doesn’t really matter,” and “Elections aren’t ever that close” are things you hear non-voters say. At one point on Tuesday night, with over 70 percent of precincts reporting their votes, Pennsylvania was separated by less than 500 votes.
Go ahead and get on Facebook and look at the number of friends you have, and it probably won’t seem like a very large amount anymore. Sure, not every state was this close, but no one expected Pennsylvania to be that close. Is the cost of electing the leader of the free world less than that of the cost of you missing the end of that episode of Friends? No, it is not, and I don’t care what your reasoning is for being able to vote and not capitalizing on it is; if you didn’t capitalize on this opportunity but continue to complain about issues that aren’t being solved, then you need to take a good long look in the mirror.
What is done is done, and Trump is the President-elect whether you like it or not. If you did not exercise your right to vote, a right so many men and women of all races and ethnicities have fought and died for, then quit the complaining about who won and what they stand for. The only person that should be blamed is the one that is still taking that good long look back at you in the mirror. We must become more unified as a nation, in one way or another, to improve over the next four years, and this unity will in large part come from thoughtful discussion between opposing sides. If you failed yourself, your friends and family, and your nation by not voting this election season then please do everyone a favor and quit complaining, because the only change that you are making is one of division. A division that, guaranteed, will be detrimental not only to our own but to all societies.