If you follow this blog, you know that our primary focus has been health and humanities, the intersection of medicine and social and cultural studies. But today, half the country feels they have swallowed a bitter pill. The other half feel that they’ve been vindicated, perhaps, but all can agree that this has been the most unhealthy election cycle in living memory. I found myself listening to the results in the wee hours, and then reflecting on what this might mean, not only for our nation, but also for our small communities and families. I want to provide here some encouragement, some insight, and we as a forum want to give our readers a sense of solidarity–for we are with you.
To those who supported Sen. Hillary Clinton, I say this. The grief you feel is real and you have a right to it. As with any loss, the anger and shock are feelings that we must work through. But let’s remember that despair and hope are not feelings, but choices. We must work against despair, even at our darkest moments, because despair is paralyzing. We must choose hope, because hope cannot stand without us. But also, while you mourn the loss of a dream, be assured: this was still a historic moment. You voted for the first woman nominated by a major party for president of the United States. That is one ceiling down, and all of us must give ourselves credit for a movement that came up only just short–winning the popular vote, though losing the electoral college. And recall, too, that Kate Brown just became the first openly LGBT governor last night (of Oregon). If Hillary Clinton has taught us anything, it’s that battles are won by inches, by the steady walk from Susan B Anthony to the 18 year old women who voted yesterday. What you can do now: Call the communities that need your support. The ACLU, the LGBT centers, Islamic centers, Jewish alliances, and other groups who have felt alienated during this election could use your words and your deeds. And over all, let’s remember that even those who voted against us are human beings like us with hopes and dreams.
To those who supported Mr. Donald Trump, I say this: The temptation to despair may only be matched by the temptation to revel in victory or to gloat over one’s perceived enemies. But let us remember that, in many ways, every single person who voted this year voted for change. Trump supporters voted for change of the established system of career politics. Sanders supporters (in the primary) voted for change in the social system and economic system. Clinton supporters voted for change in the shattering of patriarchal norms and glass ceilings. We are not enemies. In your victory, be gracious; allow for the grief and frustration of those who have lost. But most importantly, it will be your responsibility to prove to those who are fearful and struggling against prejudice that you do not stand for racism and division. You must, by your words and deeds, show that you accept them as fellow Americans. That you will work toward inclusion. That you will not accept racist, misogynist or otherwise vicious attacks on those you ought to call neighbor. And to the GOP, you must re-invent yourself. You cannot now be the party of “no,” but you must not let your “yes” disenfranchise minorities or revoke the rights of women, LGBT, and immigrants.
In the meantime, we must work. This nation has not been divided by this election–it has been shown-up for the divisions that already existed. The newly elected president has allowed for antagonism and so supported acts of violence by seeming to give license. We cannot accept this. We will not. And we, the people, must hold him and all of our elected officials accountable to protect the whole nation, not just that part of it that looks, thinks, or acts as we do. This has been an ugly year, a near civil war–but as with that horrific chapter of our nations history, let us now return to the angels of our better nature. We share a common humanity. Let us make sure that we behave as though we do. Let us protect those who are vulnerable to attacks, and let us work, work, work. There is so much to do. Get involved, and if you cannot yet, take reassurance in knowing that we will warrior for you–as we will take comfort in knowing that, when we have become weary, you will come to relieve us and be our strength. Change is coming. And we will rise.
Be blessed–be safe–be kind–do good. We have your back.
Brandy Schillace, editor, Medhum | Daily Dose