SALT LAKE CITY —
On Election Night 2016, I was relatively optimistic that the voters of America would choose a controversial career politician over a political neophyte who had gained notoriety as a real estate mogul and reality television star. And for the most part, a number of seasoned political observers were thinking the same thing. But as the night wore, it became increasingly clear that a large segment of the national electorate had a different idea and history was made as Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States.
The next day I was devastated to realize it was actually true. Even weeks later, it seems surreal that the nearly two-year long election process played out the way it did from Trump systematically dispatching 16 opponents on his way to winning the Republican nomination for president to then defeating Hillary Clinton in the general election. Few analysts gave him a chance at any point in the campaign, but they all failed to correctly gauge the anger and discontent of a large segment of the population who felt their voices were not being heard.
Those voters, the true Trump supporters, now have the man they believe to be their champion and standard-bearer in the Oval Office. To those folks, I offer congratulations and truly hope that your concerns are addressed over the next four years. But I would also ask that you consider that there are others in the country that are worried about their futures as well, including, minorities, women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and Muslims, to name a few.
While this campaign has been among the most contentious in our nation’s history, after all the votes are counted, we are still the United States of America — a country that offers liberty and justice for all who live here. I would hope that in the wake of Trump’s election victory, the president-elect and his supporters could take this opportunity to begin to bridge the political divide that separated us and build the bridge of humanity that unites us.
Among the many great qualities about the USA throughout history is the nation’s ability to overcome obstacles and move forward in the ongoing effort to find enlightenment. This is one of those times. How we choose to react in this moment will determine where we go in not just the next four years, but also potentially many years beyond.
Are we going to make the most of this opportunity for united growth or let it slip away by allowing our political differences to divide our nation? I call on everyone — all of us — to choose the path of enlightenment and inclusion.
In the weeks since the election, the nation has seemed to take a break from some of the harsh rhetoric of the campaign. Moving forward, the next few months will be of critical importance as the country heals from the harsh reality of an historic, hard-fought political campaign. But just as the U.S. has always done, we will mend our disputes and the nation will move ahead and hopefully be better for it in the long run.
Everything I wore on election day was a way to honor the women I love and admire. The pantsuit wasn’t comfortable or flattering, but it was my grandmother’s jacket and my late friend’s slacks. The shirt was white, representing one of the colors of the suffrage movement, and in the pocket I slipped a small spoon that was a gift from my mother to my grandmother.
I wore my late mother-in-law’s bracelet, a necklace made by my great-grandmother and the birthstones of my daughters. I voted two weeks before Election Day, and so I spent Tuesday knocking on doors, encouraging people to vote. I was never confident that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election, but at some point I pushed that doubt aside (thanks, pundits and polls!) and tried to just enjoy what I hoped would be the political moment I’d been dreaming about for 20 years. It quickly became clear that it was not.
Jasen: For the first time in my life, a political vote felt personal. I think it was not only the opportunity to vote for a candidate that I have admired most of my adult life, but Mr. Trump’s repeated hateful and sexist comments that made me feel like my vote was as much a rejection of those sentiments as it was a disagreement with his politics.
In the wake of an almost painfully contentious election, I want to be clear in communicating to those who voted for Mr. Trump — I do not think you are all racist, sexist homophobes. I do believe some of us who opposed him came to see it that way because of some divisive language he chose to use. I know there were a variety of reasons to support him, including a rejection of Washington gridlock and the fact that so many of our elected leaders seem to ignore those whom they allegedly represent. But for many of us, he came to represent the marginalization I’ve felt most of my professional life.
Amy: I have learned a lot since the election. I learned that some of you are more frustrated than I realized, more angry than I understood and more determined to be heard than our media would allow. I’ve learned a lot about the distrust of my profession and the fact that we need to make changes in the way we do our jobs. And I feel like I need to acknowledge that before asking you to understand the fear now being expressed by those of us who don’t see Trump’s rhetoric as harmless hyperbole. I beg you to listen to those who say they’re afraid, try to see life from the perspective of those who feel marginalized and ignored, and make an effort to reach out to those whose life experience is nothing like yours.
Moving forward, I hope we focus our attention, our passion, our good works closer to home. Yes, the president has a lot of power, but so do we. Sometimes I think how much power we have with every word, every act. So it is my sincere hope that we no longer wait for a leader to bring us together, to change our minds or heal our hearts. Let’s do that by the way we listen, support and help each other.
Amy Donaldson and Jasen Lee co-host the Voices of Reason podcast on KSLnewsradio.com. The daughter of a veteran who grew up in red states and the son of working class parents from Chicago's south side, both are Deseret News reporters and independent thinkers concerned about civil conversation on community and national issues. Listen at KSL.com, iTunes, Google Play and other podcast apps.