It’s over. For better or for worse, come 2017, Donald Trump will be the leader of the free world. This election has been among the most divisive in US History. The candidates personally attacked each other time and time again, resulting in campaigns that barely focused on policy debates, and were way too personal. But now, it’s time to put all the bashing aside and come together as a nation. We are the United States of America. We are not a country made up of Republicans and Democrats, but a country made up of Americans. To let our opinions divide us like this instills fear in those trying to form and express their political opinions; it is, at best anti-American, and limits many people’s right to freedom of speech. The last thing this country needs right now is a divided nation.
However, this election does not need to only create negativity; it can also be used as a platform for growth. There is a lot we can learn from the past year and a half. We learned that candor and transparency can take one far, and that things can change in the blink of an eye. This election season, we learned that, no matter who you are, you have a chance to achieve greatness in this country. This presidency will pose a lot of challenges to the moral fiber of our nation. It may be hard to explain to our youth why we chose to elect someone who is seemingly so full of hate. We will also have to explain how we allowed ourselves to get to a point where our only choices were dishonesty or instability. But we cannot and should not become reliant on our political leaders to define our moral and ethical values.
Last week, Rabbi Penner gave a shiur about the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, and how it was an act of accountability. He discussed how this tragedy made the Jews the sole proprietors of their actions; they could no longer rely on the Kohen Gadol or a goat thrown from a cliff to atone for their sins. They now had to do the work on their own. Though this was a punishment, it also showed that God trusted the Jewish nation to exist as a people without a Kohen Gadol to act on our behalf when we were at our lowest point. It shows that a people can grow and be moral without a moral leader or even without any leader.
This election has created amazing opportunities to learn and to teach. We can teach respect for those who lead us, whether we agree with them or not. We can learn that we are not always in control of things, and that whether we win or we lose, whether our opinions prevail or fall, we must always treat the opposing party with dignity. Now is the time to put aside the hate and to celebrate democracy, to celebrate that we live in a nation in which, no matter who you are, you have a shot at the Oval Office. We need to promote love and unity. We need to work together and fight for a safer, stronger America, and a safer, stronger world.
Both of our candidates this year were far from perfect, and our President-elect is far from perfect. But let us learn from the mistakes that led us to Clinton Vs. Trump 2016. Let’s stop getting ourselves bogged down in the winning and losing of things and start finding ways that we can use this as a platform for growth. Things can only go up from here. Let’s be proud Americans, because if we’re not, if we remain proud Trump fans or angered Clinton supporters, we achieve nothing. We promote and continue the hate that has made us despise these past few months. If we keep fighting the only thing that wins is the immature attitude that has made this election so deplorable to begin with.