Find your way forward
By The Purple Editorial Board
You know in Disney Pixar’s Inside Out, when Joy and Sadness go missing and Fear, Anger, and Disgust are left controlling the brain? That’s probably what your Facebook feed looks like right now, and has looked like for the past week. But unfortunately, life is not a Disney movie, so instead of the protagonist’s feelings being validated and understood, everyone is getting told to “calm down” and to “just accept it,” – “it” of course, referring to President-Elect Donald J. Trump.
Your emotions, no matter how you are feeling, are completely valid, and you should feel comfortable expressing them. But as we move forward with the reality of the next four years, there are three different courses of action for you, depending on how you reacted to the election.
If you are liberal and do not support a Trump presidency: Unfortunately, it’s happening. The electoral college will not change its votes. It would be disastrous if they did, especially for those who are most at risk under a Trump presidency. While altering or removing the electoral college is a policy worth looking at, it’s one that should be carefully researched instead of put forward as a kneejerk reaction. The best action moving forward is to make a plan, and organize. Whether it’s fighting for restoring the Voting Rights Act, pledging to make calls in the next campaign, or even deciding to run for office yourself, there are so many ways to channel your fear, your anger, your devastation moving forward.
If you’re a Democrat, re-examine structures, institutions, decisions that were made this year. How can the party do better going forward? How can the party be more inclusive to those who are skeptical of the two-party structure?
If you don’t identify with the Democratic party, but consider yourself to be progressive or liberal, please rethink your Party ID. It’s okay to be skeptical of the two-party system. It might not feel like the structure works for you. But our country is built on two parties, and that’s been ingrained in our historical structure since approximately 1796. Not all is lost. Outsiders took over the Republican party this past year, and for better or for worse, they just elected their candidate President of the United States. If you want to see change within the Democratic party, get inside of it and take it over.
If you are conservative and do not support a Trump presidency: We’re sorry. Political science models predict a party switch for the Presidency every eight years, but this probably isn’t the victory you pictured. The good news is, you have so much opportunity going forward in the next four years to make a difference. After January 20, 2017, Republicans will have control over the Presidency and Congress. So many of the Republicans in Congress are smart, sensible people committed to the heart of the party and protecting everyone in this country. Figure out who they are, who’s willing to take a stand against their own party when necessary, and vote for them. Support them, work for them, do anything you can to keep them in your party. One doesn’t have to be in the opposite party to stand up to the President.
In the meantime, the GOP also needs to do some soul-searching. Figure out how Donald Trump won the primary, why everyone else in the field failed. How will you open the party back up? How will you become a party that encourages minority voters, not hopes they don’t turn out? With Reince Priebus moving to the White House, the RNC has the opportunity for new leadership. Do your research, find someone you trust to lead your party, and then make sure your elected representatives know who that is.
If you supported a Trump presidency: Congratulations. So many people were wrong, and you surprised all of us by showing up to prove it. It’s not fair to lump you all into one partisan box, because records show that more than a few voters switched between parties from 2012 to 2016. As we move forward, you have a lot of responsibility. First, don’t tell your friends who didn’t support Trump to “get over it.” You might be elated, but try to understand why they’re scared or sad. You’re probably sick and tired of being told that all Trump supporters are racist and sexist bigots. Of course you’re all not. Approximately 61,283,176 Americans voted for him. I would be horrified if you all had hate in your heart. But please, take a look at why some people feel that way. Look at things that Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and other people who have acted as surrogates for Trump have said. If you don’t think he really believes any of that, or will act on it, prove it. Men like Steve Bannon have no place in the White House. His critics on both sides of the aisle say he’s a White Nationalist, and White Nationalists say he’s a White Nationalist. Make it clear to Donald Trump that you will not accept that level of bigotry in the White House. Stand up to demonstrated racism.
Second, hold your President accountable. He ran on a platform of “draining the swamp,” – clearing institutional “elites” from DC. Now his transition team is staffed almost exclusively with lobbyists and Wall Street representatives. Given his lack of elected experience (which may be the very reason you voted for him), it’s fair that he would need help with the transition to the White House. But if you voted for this man because of his status as an outsider and his lack of obligations to lobbyists and corporations, hold him to that. Do not let him pull the wool over your eyes. Who knows? President-elect Donald Trump may surprise us all. For that to happen though, he needs you – his voters – to hold him accountable for his actions.
To everyone: You’re probably sick of hearing “it’s okay.” For you, it might not be okay. Your life might be fundamentally altered by this Presidency, for better or worse. But no matter what, the office of the President is bigger than one man. America is bigger than one man. Be sad, be scared, be elated. But whatever you do, do not give up.