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How the results of the election should be handled

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In the wake of this year’s election, we as Americans have once again discovered one of our most prized reactions: freaking out.

It’s easy to see the discontent that has been expressed by so many in our country, and there are some arguably good reasons for it. Yet, when I observe the ways that people have reacted to this election’s outcome, I feel very little compassion or understanding.

Riots abound, with some, like a riot in Portland, Oregon, requiring law enforcement to use force in order to stop rampant vandalism. There are rumors floating around about schools that shut down the day after the election so that students could grieve over the results. Even if it isn’t true, the idea that this would be acceptable is disheartening.

We live in a country where we have the right to express our opinions with very little restraint, and try to make our voices heard in the political arena. We have the right to vote for our elected officials, a right that we should never take for granted. But something that we seem to continually forget is a simple principle that we’ve probably all been told: the world does not revolve around you.

There are over 300 million people living in the United States, and each one has their own experiences and ideals. It’s hard to get people to agree on anything. If you were to say that the sky is blue, some people would disagree just to spite you if nothing else. However, when it comes to the election, we cast our vote and expect that everyone else will vote the same as we did. How could they not see our logic? Don’t they know how important this is to us?   

The millennial population in the United States is over 75 million. The millennial generation, my generation, makes up about one-fourth of the total population in the U.S. We were promised that this election was important, that we were going to be pioneers of a grand new future. We sent in our votes and many were disappointed with the results. And I ask, why?  

We say so often that everyone’s vote matters, that everyone needs to make their voice heard. But when the results do not come out the way that some wanted them to, people rise in uproar, screaming about ignorance and selfishness. What greater forms of ignorance and selfishness are there, however, than to tell someone that what they have to say is important, but only when it agrees with what they think? From a 19-year-old psychology major in California to a 45-year-old farmer in Kansas, we are all Americans. Everyone’s voice matters, not just the ones that agree with us, and especially not just one particular age group.   

Donald Trump will be the new president. That’s what happened. He hardly even had the title of president-elect for one week, and riots had already broken out in the streets. Before he has even been inaugurated, there are cries about oppression and human rights being taken away. Trump hasn’t had to exercise any power and he is already a criminal to half of the American population.   

It’s easy to forget our history, but it can enlighten us on many things. For Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration, his vice president – and future president of the United States – Andrew Johnson, showed up drunk. Franklin D. Roosevelt, a man constantly upheld as one of the greatest presidents in American history, issued an executive order which confined hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans to internment camps where they were treated like prisoners in their own country. William Clinton marked his presidency by having an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.   

These were distasteful, inappropriate things that American presidents have done, and yet we are still here. Our nation still stands. Broken and fractured at times, yes, but still around. Trump has garnered so much hatred for things he hasn’t yet done, while we have easily forgiven the wrongdoings of those who were in his position previously. Maybe Trump will pleasantly surprise us or maybe he’ll deserve that hatred, but that’s not the point. Regardless of what happens, we will still be here when he’s done, and we will have to take responsibility for the consequences of our actions. If we tell people to make their own choices, we have to respect the choices they make. We may not like them, we may not agree with them, but that definitely doesn’t give us any excuse to riot and vandalize. Rather, it means that we should be talking with each other, trying to find a common goal.   

I am a Republican living in California. I’ve felt plenty of times that my vote doesn’t matter. That doesn’t mean I’m going to start yelling at every Democrat I see when an election doesn’t go my way. That person is an American just like me, with the right to make their own choices. We have to take responsibility for ourselves. We enter into voting with the understanding that we may not win. This doesn’t give us the right to try to make others fearful if they dared to disagree with us. What it does mean is that we need to pull on our adult pants and move on with our lives.   

So what are we supposed to do when it seems like everything has gone wrong? It’s very simple; we move on. We do the things that we know are right, the things that don’t require arguing. We act with kindness towards people. We give others respect, whether they deserve it or not. We help someone simply because they need it and we don’t expect anything from them in return. Change doesn’t happen because we spray paint a wall or riot in the streets. Change happens when people take a firm yet gracious stand for what they know is right, and accept whatever comes.

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How the results of the election should be handled