Thank You, Election

By Tony Shu (Wellesley High School Student)

As I turned off the TV on Tuesday night, with the election results apparent but not yet definitive, I rejected the notion that so many Americans could support Donald Trump. As I slipped into bed, with my head swimming and my fingers numb, I tricked myself into believing that in the morning, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin would all turn blue and help Clinton inch pass the 270 electoral votes needed. As I struggled to sleep, with anxiety keeping me from much needed rest, I was unaware that the one man I loathed most at that moment was feeling something similar.

According to Ben Carson, when Donald Trump learned that he was winning the election, “He was quite somber”. Whether he was contemplating the work ahead or fearful of the responsibility he would have to assume, Trump was perhaps just as shocked as I was. 

While I respect the outcome of the election, I do not respect Donald Trump. 

The bubble of false security, buoyed by FiveThirtyEight projections and a liberal Facebook news feed, had finally burst. As I walked into school the next day, I observed the range of my classmates’ emotions: from sadness to anger to elation. I could sense the genuine pain of defeat and the agony of uncertainty endured by many of the students, teachers, and administrators alike. 

Adding to the somber mood was my fear that conversations around politics and the election would never be the same, or would even cease to continue. Despite the hate that Donald Trump espoused, I appreciate the election process for the emotions it roused, the dedication it inspired on both sides to defend and promote fundamental principles, and the political dialogue that it opened up. This has unequivocally been one of the most intellectually stimulating times of my life and has reminded me that whether we are discussing in class, acting on stage, or debating politics, the foremost rule we must always observe is to listen to one another. My shock and denial over the election has simply shown me that I must continue to push myself to remain open minded and to truly listen.

The dialogue must not stop now. From the persisting Facebook feuds to the cafeteria quarrels, I can already tell that it will not. To my friends who support Trump: you absolutely have the right to celebrate his victory; however, do so gracefully and understand that others also have the right to gather, express their anger and fear, and speak out against Trump. To my friends who support Clinton: let us ensure that this election serves as a spark to ignite a lifelong devotion to fighting for love, equal opportunity, and happiness. Let us support our friends and strangers who need our care because every person, vote, and gesture truly does make a difference. Finally, let us promise to listen and talk to everyone, especially those we do not agree with.

For all of us, this election serves to verify that the United States will never be composed of or dominated by just one demographic or political view. These differences and the constructive disagreements and conflicts they spawn are exactly what has ensured the United States’ survival and success thus far. The past has seen horrible leaders and tragedies as the oscillation between good and evil is inevitable. However, the long-term trend towards progress is unmistakable. 

I am not afraid of the challenge ahead. Obstacles, along with the prospect of evil, provide the motivation and contrast in life to make the eventual victory of good so much sweeter.