Sean Edwards

The American Resurrection

The Road to Healing: How to Recover from One Hell of an Election

It’s been a few weeks since Election 2016, but most people are still reeling from the results.

For many, it still isn’t any easier to accept them. It still hurts. It still feels like half the country hates them. And people feel deeply betrayed.

election-healing

How can we ever recover from this? Is it even possible?

Yes, and we can do it by believing in each other again.

Words Have Power, Be Careful How You Use Them

First we need to look at the roles of the DNC, RNC, and their media conglomerate allies.

Every election sees its share of slander. But this election takes the gold. I have never seen so many video clips and sound bites taken out of context at one time.

I haven’t seen CNN and Fox be so obvious with their biases.

And I haven’t seen people as upset as they are now.

What happened? Every election someone loses, and their supporters feel a sense of loss. That is normal.

But this election was different. It was far more intense.

Basically, the respective campaign machines, and their media allies, convinced us that the “other side” was the enemy.

  • They are bad people…
  • They want to take away your rights…
  • They want to take away your guns…
  • They want to deport you…
  • They are everything that is wrong with this country…

At the root of it all: You can’t trust your fellow Americans. Your neighbors hate you. The only people you can trust are the people who vote like you. Otherwise, you’ve partnered with racism, bigotry, tyranny, and pure evil.

Both sides drove messages of fear down our throats about what might happen if the other person won.

They convinced us that the other side’s candidate, and their supporters, represented everything wrong with this country… and we believed them.

They convinced us that the other side’s candidate, and their supporters, represented everything wrong with this country… and we believed them.

We allowed our political parties to label half the country as “bad people”… and we accepted it.

If We Don’t Change This, Elections Are Going To Get Worse

What did we think was going to happen when both sides effectively convinced their followers that the other candidate, and their followers, were evil?

If I truly believed that Hillary was a murdering elitist, bent on nothing but her own gain, then it would be my DUTY to fight back.

If I swallow the party line–hook, line, and sinker–then I must come to one conclusion: The other side wants me in chains and to plunder my bank account.

It doesn’t matter which side I’m on, both sides are telling me this.

If I truly believed the stuff being said about the “other candidate,” then I would have to fight back. And I couldn’t be civil with their supporters.

Don’t be surprised when people feel betrayed after the democratic party spent 6 months screaming about how terrible Trump was, but now says we need to “calm down” and “give him a chance.”

People feel betrayed after the democratic party spent 6 months screaming about how terrible Trump was, but now says we need to “calm down” and “give him a chance.”

What?? Weren’t you just saying how TERRIBLE he’d be for the country? And weren’t you trying to convince me that our human rights could be violated if he won? Then how can you tell me to “calm down” and “give him a chance”???

Were you telling the truth? Or were you just saying whatever you thought would get your candidate elected?

The Post-Election Protests Reveal The True Integrity of Americans

If I were a Hillary supporter, my morals would require me to fight Trump and his followers… maybe even to violence.

Why? Because I believe his presidency may usher in the fourth reich… because that’s what my party told me.

If I were a Trump supporter, my principles would require me to fight Hillary and her followers… maybe even to violence.

Why? Because I believe she wants to establish a socialist police state straight out of 1984… because that’s why my party told me.

If I buy the party-lines, I MUST protest. If I don’t, I’m a hypocrite.

Integrity doesn’t mean you do good things. Integrity means that you are consistent with yourself. If you believe A, then you’ll perform actions that support A. If you believe A, but you do B, then you are a hypocrite and lack integrity.

All the violence and chaos during (and after) the election show us two things: 1) Many Americans swallowed their party’s kool aide, and 2) Most Americans have high levels of integrity.

If I were a Hillary supporter who believed my party, and I didn’t protest Trump’s election, I would be a hypocrite. Why? Because I would believe A (that Trump could be the next Hitler), but I do B (nothing).

The protests and anger after the election show us that Americans have spine and integrity (go America!).

The real problem comes down to 2 things: 1) People lied, and 2) we believed them.

What Do Your Actions Say About Your Values?

However, none of this would have happened if we all had done one thing: Given each other the benefit of the doubt.

I know this is crazy, but what if we believed in people again? Instead of assuming the worst in people, how about we assume the best in people (until they prove us wrong)?

If we all respected each other, and recognized that we all want what’s best for the country (we just disagree on how to do it), how different would this election have looked?

Instead of trying to beat the other side down with slander, half-truths, and out-right lies, we’d try to talk with them. We’d try to have real conversations about issues.

Instead of hurling insults, we’d ask questions… because we wouldn’t understand how a smart, good human being could hold a contrary view point.

We’d have to say things like, “That idea seems absurd, but these people seem to like it. Why are these smart people, who want good things for all Americans, supporting this idea? There must be something I don’t understand about their position. Or there must be something they don’t understand about mine. Or a little of both. But I should talk to them none-the-less.”
Can you imagine how different our political culture would be if we adopted this mindset?

In my life, I have adopted a core value that says, “All people (including their motives) are innocent until proven guilty.” I have chosen to believe that people are good until I have proof they are not. That’s what core values are. They are values that you’ve established in your life, either intentionally or unintentionally, that make decisions for you.

This core value makes decisions for me (especially when I need to be reminded of it). If I don’t have proof that Hillary is a liar (and I just think she is), then I must make decisions assuming she tells the truth (despite how I feel).

This isn’t easy at first. You have to stop yourself mid-thought and correct your thinking. But, once you do it for a while, it begins to be second nature, and you begin to think the best of people by default.

Instead of getting mad at someone for something they said or did, you start thinking of ways you might have misinterpreted them. And you become a happier person, because suddenly the world looks a lot different.

That’s how we heal. That’s how we rebuild. And that’s how we make American great again.

About Sean Edwards

Sean Edwards is an author and a communication strategist. He graduated from the Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in history. Sean has a passion for discussing philosophy and American politics.

Believe In America Again

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4 Replies

  1. Eileen

    Fair enough as far as it goes. What this article ignores is that Americans were upset and angry before the election. They were upset and angry before the primaries. The problem was that both parties ignored this and assumed that the party registered voters would fall in line. People react when they feel sufficient pain, and IMO, this election there were plenty of people who felt pain and were ready to fight back at the ballot box.

    It is not known whether Trump followers would actually riot and beat people up like Clinton supporters are. What is known is that many of them, if not most, would choose to exercise their right to secede and would have done so. The problem is that the differences that divide the two sides isn’t just a matter of they want socialism and we don’t. It was each side engaging in a culture war (and I don’t mean Sharia Law – the cultural divide was more fundamental than that). People are ready to accept a woman as President, just like they voted for an African American twice. What they didn’t want was someone (man or woman) who wished to fundamentally change what they call “America”, such as family, family values and the opportunity to self start. That is what was threatened, and the SJW’s behavior tended to support that feeling and just made them more angry.

  2. Tammy

    What this article seems to mainly point to was the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton and whatever issues people might have with her, innocent or not. What about the issues with the RNC and Republican nominee Donald Trump? There was allot of state manipulation in the form of gerrymandering and voter suppression and all of Trumps lies, about every 3 minutes or so during his campaign and which he continues to lie. What about the people he’s surrounding himself with, one prime example is the President Elect Mike Pence, who either skirts around any question with regard to Trumps lies or blatantly agrees with his lie, what truth is there in that? Trumps campaign manager Kellyanne Conway just recently stated that any tweet Trump makes (false or not) is presidential because he’s the President Elect… What the hell!
    So in this article you’re suggesting we put aside what we know (not what we’ve been told) to be fact and truth, to give lies and deceit a chance? I don’t think that will work very well, there are people who are more intelligent than that, people who won’t lie to themselves…People like me! I don’t believe in “just because someone said it makes it true”… Be real…

    1. Sean Edwards

      Tammy, are you implying that I’m lieing to myself? And, just how exactly do you think that line of discussion is going to persuade me? Why, when you you’ve just called me someone who lies to themselves, do you think you’ll have any bearing on my position? You may have some good points, but this is one of the things we need to change about our political culture. When we hurl insults, instead of articulating arguments, we just create further division. And we don’t do any good. Nothing changes.

      Tammy, I want to hear what you have to say. But first, I’m going to ask that you stop attacking me, please articulate your position clearly and respectfully, and provide proof (as in actually facts, just saying something is a fact doesn’t make it so) to your assertions. I look forward to hearing your response.

  3. Sean Edwards

    Maylily, thank you for responding. I appreciate your points. I’m going to break them out and respond to them individually, I think that will help us communicate better.

    1. “This seems to indicate that people could not have come to the decision themselves. Starting from a position that the anti-Trump protesters are doing so because of what the Democratic party said insinuates that the protesters cannot think for themselves. This goes against your further discussion of respect.”

    My intention was not to disrespect anyone. And I apologize if you felt that way. I certainly believe that all people can think for themselves, but I also believe that many people choose not to. Point in case, many people who supported Bernie Sanders also supported Ron Paul. If you don’t see an obvious problem with that, then my point has been made.

    I have a core value to respect people and give them a benefit of the doubt. I assume their motives are good, and may only disagree with their strategies. But respecting someone doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything they say or believe. I will challenge ideas, and attack positions I believe are erroneous. However, I will never attack a person’s character or motives. So, I can respect Hillary or Trump supporters, and challenge their conclusions at the same time. To say otherwise would mean that respect requires agreement. It does not.

    2. “The Democratic Party had nothing to do with my feelings about Donald Trump as president elect. Donald Trump’s words, actions, and behavior directly influenced my feelings about him as a candidate and as president elect.”

    Really? Throughout the campaign, were you flooded with stories about how Trump supported the LGBTQ community and even has LGBTQ people working in high powered positions in his organizations?

    When we all saw the horrid video about what he could get away with, did you also see just as many stories about the complete strangers (including women and children) he’s help because of their plight?

    During the campaign, when you turned on the news and you heard about Trump’s wall, did the pundits also talk about how he has minorities working for him, and has plans to make it easier for immigrants to get and stay here legally?

    Here’s what I’m saying: It was VERY hard to get a clear picture of EITHER candidate through all the campaign and media spin. Soundbites, quips, and quotes were used to paint incomplete, and horrible pictures of both candidates. The DNC, RNC, and their media allies flooded the airwaves with so much half-truths and misinformation that I doubt if anyone’s view of either candidate was unaffected.

    We had 2 problems this campaign: Both sides bent the truth so much that it was really easy to believe their narratives about their opponent, and secondly, people didn’t think for themselves. They accepted the preposterous caricatures each side painted of the other. So, are the DNC and RNC to blame? Or are we, because we believed the “say anything to get elected” strategy they both employed?

    3. “Did I go protest? No. Does that make me a hypocrite?”

    It only makes you a hypocrite if you actually believe those horrible things about Trump that the media spewed out. Integrity doesn’t mean you do the right thing. Integrity means that your actions line up with your beliefs. And hypocrisy is when your stated beliefs and your actions do not match. If, however, you simply think Trump will be a bad president, then not protesting doesn’t make you hypocrite. But, if during the election your arguments against Trump were based on those outlandish claims, but you didn’t believe 100% of the narrative you were spreading, then yes, unfortunately that makes your actions hypocritical.

    It all comes down to what we believe, what our values are, and how our actions align (or don’t align) with those values and beliefs.

    And, to finalize this point, I won’t ever call an individual a hypocrite. I may call their position hypocritical, but I won’t do that until I have proof.

    4. “And I have tried to engage in rational discussion with some individuals to no avail. What is your suggestion for that? Just giving up is not a rational option.”

    Okay, this is hard to answer without having actually been a part of these discussions, but I’ll try to none-the-less.

    We are never responsible for how someone else acts. Therefore, we can come to a conversation with reason and empathy, but if they’re unwilling to be rational, then nothing we do will matter. There just isn’t anything you can do to make someone be reasonable. You can appeal to their humanity and dignity in an attempt to build a bridge, but that’s never a guarantee.

    However, if conflict is the common theme between your discussions, then I would re-examine your motives and strategy. I’m not saying you’re doing this, but if you’re going into a conversation with the intent to change someone’s mind, it probably won’t work and they’ll get defensive and irrational. We must become true students of our neighbors. We can’t use empathy and understanding as a tool of persuasion. That’s manipulation and won’t work. Again, I’m not accusing you doing of this, I just know that I can do it, and that is usually the cause of arguments in conversations I have. But, that’s me, and not necessarily you.

    I hope I was able to clarify some things for you. Thanks for reading and commenting.