If you have been following the election exclusively on Twitter, you might imagine that this country is so starkly divided that we should hardly be able to call ourselves a county at all.
The frenzy of groupthink and the competitive nature of an election—an all or nothing contest in which, as we are repeatedly told, the stakes have never been higher—have proved to be a potent cocktail for bullying and condescension from both sides.
Throughout this election, Hillary Clinton has been called a bitch and worse, literally accused of witchcraft, assumed to be, if not the devil incarnate, then a human manifestation of all that is noxious in our worst fantasies of an amoral, black helicopter government.
If you genuinely believe that Hillary Clinton is a satanic murderess who is inches from death but also an immortal Muslim puppet sent to destroy our government, I cannot help you. If you send photoshopped images of Jewish journalists being locked in gas chambers, I cannot help you. I also hope that I never have to engage with you in person.
That Trump supporter is not whom I am addressing.
I am writing this for the Trump supporters who dislike Hillary because they’ve seen her in government for 30 years and they feel as though the government has let them down. These voters might not agree with everything Trump says, they might cringe at his crude, and often cruel, remarks, but they genuinely believe he “tells it like it is.” Perhaps you have been a Republican all of your life. You might not like Trump, but your grandfather would roll in his grave if he ever saw you voting for a Clinton of all people.
(This is also not to say there aren’t a number of legitimate political reasons a Democrat might take issue with Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, this election is a contest between her and Donald Trump, and you know as well as I do that if your goal is progressive policy, Hillary Clinton aligns far more closely with your priorities.)
However you identify politically, here are the facts as they stand:
- Hillary Clinton is a flawed politician, but by all accounts she is a genuinely decent human being. She is incredibly intelligent. She is incredibly experienced in all arenas of government.
- On November 8, Hillary Clinton will most likely be elected our next president.
- On November 9, we will have to become a unified country again.
Of course there are ways you can continue to dig your heels in. If you are angry, joining the crowds that shout, “Jail that bitch!” might relieve some of those feelings of impotence. You can cheer as Republican politicians pull strings and obstruct—the exact sort of backdoor political maneuvering you hated, that you believed Hillary embodied.
Or, you can take a breath. You can take off your Make America Great Again hat and smooth out your terrible hat hair. You can look at the facts, and recognize that maybe, just maybe, when the fiery rhetoric of the political game is over and the chess pieces are cleared, things aren’t going to be so bad.
In eight years as leader, President Obama has brought the unemployment rate down to a 4.9 percent, a record low since 2008. The economy added 161,000 jobs in October, and average hourly wages of workers in the private sector are up 2.8 percent, another post-2008 record. Maybe you don’t feel any improvement yet. Progress is unsexy, and slow, and coming from a deep recession, that progress is even slower. But the magic bullet Trump promised doesn’t exist, and you know that.
Now is the time to realize that no, President Obama did not take away your guns, and no, President Hillary Clinton will not either. President Obama was not a sleeper cell Muslim terrorist, and no, President Clinton is not either. Of course she isn’t. What are you even saying? Listen to yourself.
We all want our country to be safer. We all want better education, and easier ways to pay for it. We all want policemen who are better at their jobs, and good roads and bridges, and affordable access to medical care and shorter lines at the post office., We all want to be treated fairly, and with respect.
Hillary Clinton is not your enemy: tax loopholes and terrorists, and people abusing the power of a police uniform and drug overdoses and high medical costs are our enemies. You might not agree with the solutions she proposes, but the basic assumption that the President of the United States, and your neighbors who voted for her, also want the best for all of us is the fundamental promise within which a nation continues to operate.
In a final video message before the election, Hillary Clinton made a promise for what type of president she will be. “I want to be a president for all Americans, not just those who support me in this election. For everyone,” she said. “Because we all have a role to play in building a stronger, fairer America.”
We are all Americans. Whether or not you voted for her, be proud tomorrow if America finally elects its first female President, 96 years after women were granted the right to vote. Be proud to live in a country with a democracy that’s the envy and model of nations around the world. And be proud to continue to the work to push our country forward, the fights for fairness, and freedom, and shorter lines, and everything else that unites us.