In 2008, many of us rejoiced in the election of our first African American president, not just because of his skin color, but because of the message of hope he ran on. Over the course of his two terms, there have been many actions by President Obama that were met with mixed reactions.
President Obama had an opportunity to serve in a White House while Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress, one House of Congress, and neither House of Congress. Through it all, we got to see a real life version of Game of Thrones play out as the GOP used their political skill to block Obama every chance they got. Many democrats cried foul while we watched the GOP bicker among themselves to the point no one thought the GOP could win back the White House.
But then a funny thing happened on the way to election night. America got mad at the system and upended it in a way that has all of us scratching our heads and trying to figure out how bad things will get. Guess what? They won’t get nearly as bad as you think.
First, Democrats know how to play political hardball too and like the GOP did with Obama, they will work to stump Trump every step of the way. It will be Trump relying on executive action to get things done because there are still enough Democrats in power to block legislation. Our courts will be tied up with legal challenges, Trump’s appointees will be grilled to no end and blocked at every opportunity, our First Lady will be made fun of as will Trump’s daughter Ivanka, the markets will rise and fall, fall and rise, promises will be made and broken, and in the end, we will still have political gridlock in Washington D.C.
I remember in college some professors insisting if Ronald Reagan were elected in 1980 we would find ourselves in the midst of a nuclear war or World War III. Neither happened. He was an actor who had no business running the nation and today, he is one of America’s most beloved presidents ever.
So now it is up to each one of us as to how we react to all of this. We know it will be politics as usual, but how do we respond? If you are bitter over how the GOP treated Obama and take the approach that turn about is fair play, you are choosing to add to the problem. If you are happy with the election results and demand we start rounding up immigrants, you are no better than Hitler’s brown boots.
However, if you make the choice to accept the will of the people and use this as a wake up call, perhaps we become a nation of more participatory citizen politicians. What better way to honor our Founding Fathers than to use this election to realize we can no longer just sit back and cast a ballot every four years and claim to have done our part.
Listen to those who believe differently than you rather than shut them out of your life and pretend they do not exist. Seek the common ground and find reasons to work together rather than to look for excuses to hate. Be part of a new political movement, one that only cares about what we can accomplish rather than who we can crush and gloat over.
Otherwise, in four years time, we will be right where we are today at best and more likely much further apart than at any time in our history. It’s up to all of us.
Photo is screen shot from YouTube: Donald Trump meeting with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan