The Dilemma America Faces in the Future
This past Tuesday I attended the 2016 Election Reflection held by Professor Harris, who happens to be my Messina teacher. Professor Harris collected roughly eight professors from departments across campus, each of whom were tasked with speaking briefly about how they believed the election affected the Loyola community. I approached this event hopefully that the professor’s rhetoric would help bring more unity to the greater Loyola community, however I departed disappointed that two professors made comments which left students more divided.
Let me be clear, voting is a very personal act. It is intended to be confidential and not all people feel comfortable expressing to others who they voted for. That being said, if someone is open to telling people who they voted for, they should be open to having a conversation about their choice. Toward the end of the of the Election 2016 event one professor indicated that for her personally, she felt like people who voted for Donald Trump “crossed a line.” She explained that in “crossing that line” she was unsure if she would be able to accept Trump voters in the future. Regardless of one’s political ideology, this statement should be upsetting to all Americans. With all due respect to this professor, her statement epitomizes the problem America faces going forward; many people now find it acceptable to judge others based on who they voted for. It is now possible for a person’s vote to “cross a line.” I have seen numerous news articles suggesting that “Trump Voters Deserve to be ‘Vote Shamed’” (The Guardian 11/20/16) and saying “America Elects a Bigot” (New York Times 11/10/16) and I believe that these articles and ideas are inherently un-American. These ideas, suggest that the American people were fundamentally wrong and as a result the democracy has failed, and furthermore that America is ruined. This is not intended to be a partisan argument but rather my hope is that people will see how the idea of vote shaming is truly poisonous. Vote shaming divides people and what this country desperately needs is to unite people.
The question remains, how does America resolve this dilemma? First and foremost, all Americans must accept that, for better or for worse Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. Secondly, Donald Trump must publicly recognize that up to this point, he has been part of the problem. He has been divisive, and has offended many Americans, and to help unite this nation, he needs to ask the American people to forgive his past transgressions. And finally to achieve unity, the American people must acknowledge that this is a diverse country. America is diverse in many ways, we have people who are racially and ethnically diverse, but we also have people who are ideologically diverse. As a country, people need to learn not to be afraid of other opinions and need to stop calling people who they disagree with homophobic or racist or bigots because such name calling is a form of intolerance. All of us need to remember that Trump votes are not neo-Nazis trying to suppress minorities and likewise that Clinton voters are not Communists trying to do away with democracy. I believe, if America can follow these three steps, then this nation will once again be on the path to being the “shining city upon a hill,” John Winthrop envisioned.
In the Twelfth Night, Olivia is ignoring and blocking anything Orsino tries to tell her. Rather than listening to Orsino’s profession of love, she would rather block out and entirely ignore his opinion and love. Olivia fails to listen and approach the situation with an open mind, the same fault which I see in the American electorate. As the play continues, I would like to see Olivia listen, she does not have to fall in love with Orsino, but hopefully she can listen.