How do we go forward from this election?

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The initial shock of last week’s presidential election has worn off, but for many, the reality of what the next four years will bring is not setting in. For others, the reality has set in and they are terrified. There is one question that we are all trying to answer – where do we go from here?

I do not think that there is one simple answer to this. What is for certain is that this election is a historic turning point, and we are most certainly writing ourselves and our generation into the history books with how these next four years play out. And that is terrifying for some.

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But the upshot of this is that we have some control over this – it is now our turn to dictate how history is written. That is the challenge that lies before us these next three years and, in my mind, there are three main groups who have a say in how the next for years go: the Republican party, the Democratic party and we the people.

While the Republicans might be in power and the Democrats must figure out how to control their response and rebuild, I think at this point those who have the most say in controlling the dialogue and how things go are common people like you and me.

So far, I do not think that we all have been doing an exemplary job of shaping the discussion in a positive and productive way. And I place nearly equal blame on both sides of the aisle for this. In the wake of the aftermath, there was a parade of posts on my news-feeds calling voters who decided to side with Trump racists, misogynists and all other sorts of hateful names. While some of this might be explained by shock at the results, it still is not acceptable political behavior and is certainly more divisive and hateful than productive in the slightest.

However, there are certainly people on the Trump side who have indeed been emboldened by the election to commit acts of racism and hatred as feared. Displaying a banner in your pride at the election is acceptable, tearing down someone else’s banner of hope is unacceptable.

Not everyone has responded so negatively and there have been positive gatherings; I attended the Gathering for Dignity at the Flagpole on Friday, Nov. 11 and was impressed by the positive tone and message. While there I realized that gatherings like this are how we will be able to make progress moving forward – the normal people on both sides of the aisle need to come together to discuss, display humanism, and ponder what state our country is at and how we can move forward.

I think it is important for the moderates to come out and again dominate and steer the political direction in America. For too long our political process has been controlled by extremists on both political sides. To make matters worse, social media and now even the news media is an echo chamber – filled with talking heads and biased sources to fuel divisiveness and reinforce one’s own opinion, digging people further into the trenches on both sides.

It is the job of all of us to come together, out of our political bunkers, and decide what the future of this country will be. Rather than scorching each other with hatred and invective, I think this is America’s chance for each side to attempt to genuinely understand the other and try and find any compromises that we can reach to truly figure out how we can continue to make progress in America moving forward.

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