US Election 2016

Or – as Social Media clearly calls it “Holy Crap How The Hell Did He Get Elected What On Earth Were We Thinking – 2016”

It’s … interesting to see so many of my American friends on social media reacting to the US election result. Whether your candidate won or lost can have a huge impact on your outlook and mood for a long time. Democrats are saddened, worried, and frightened at the thought of someone with Trump’s track record being in the White House, and they see a fault in the electoral system that allows someone to lose the popular vote and still get the win. Some are more militant, looking to protest the result to make their views heard. Republicans (those who supported Trump) are naturally happier, but instead of flagging all the good things that are coming, they are condemning many democrats as either undemocratic, whiny, or crazy, and are telling them to grow up and/or shut up.

But here’s the thing…

This election wasn’t fought, lost or won on policy.

It wasn’t fought, lost or won on issues.

It was fought, lost, and won on rhetoric, emotional manipulation, half-truths, outright lies, and appeals to the basest elements in ourselves.

There was more talk about racism than there was about foreign policy. More talk about misappropriation than there was about poverty. More talk about criminal activity than there was about security and safety. More talk about building walls (literally and figuratively) than about breaking down barriers in society. Neither candidate had a good word to say about the other, and both had plenty of bad stuff that they kept repeating.

Given that atmosphere, it’s not surprising that many people now feel uncertain about how their world, their nation, their future, will pan out over the next four years. However, there’s a way through this, even though it doesn’t seem so to many at the moment. So here’s my five-point plan:

1. Compassion.

A post that a friend shared spoke of how the tears of students was pathetic and showed just how little the PC liberal elite understood democracy and real life. These kids (yes – kids) have just had their first taste of the democratic process, and it pretty much blew up in their faces. It’s no wonder they are unsure about the whole political thing at the moment, but all that they see is people attacking them for caring about the outcome.

How about getting alongside them? How about helping them through this by talking with them, understanding how they feel, not judging them for their disappointment but helping them to see what they can do to make a difference over the next four years. Who knows how influential they may become by the time 2020 arrives? And how much your input might contribute to that?

2. The First Amendment.

Freedom of speech, freedom to protest, is engrained in the US Constitution. There’s a whole mess of irony about when one group tries to shut down another group in the name of democracy. Think about that one…

3. Get alongside your neighbour.

No matter what political side they are on, your friends are still your friends. The world has not split in two, it’s just that a couple of guys have changed jobs. Whether your friends are Republicans or Democrats, black or white, gay or straight, American, Mexican, Irish, whatever – this is the time to pull together, not a time to force divisions even wider apart. Trump’s slogan was ‘Make America Great Again’. It was already pretty great, and can be greater still if communities and people come together.

4. Hold your President accountable.

He’s made some pretty wild statements over the past fifteen months. He’s been desperately trying to make many reconciliatory statements over the past 24 hours.

Keep him honest, keep him on his toes, and make sure he delivers an America for everyone. That’s your job. Make sure he does his job.

5. Smile.

Have a beer, go see a movie, go to dinner, take a walk with your dog, visit your family, spend time with your kids, hug your partner. Laugh, love, and live.

Remind yourself that life is good and life goes on.

Because it does.

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