In the two+ weeks since the election, some 62 million Americans are basking in the glow of Donald Trump’s win of the Electoral College. But many more people are still hurting, still feeling sad, still suffering from incredulity, still feeling fear about all the “what ifs” surrounding a Trump presidency, still steeping in frustration—especially as Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote grows to more than 2 million votes.
Articles abound with tips on how to weather Thanksgiving, with advice to Trump supporters about not being smug and advice to Clinton supporters about not being whiny. Some advise avoiding political conversations entirely. Some advise finding ways to connect rather than arguing over who’s right and who’s wrong. Some advise cueing-up adorable cat videos to stop any arguments in their tracks.
Those are probably all pretty good ideas. But what if, in addition to these, we tried to see the good in these crazy, heated, tense post-election days?
Regardless of which side of the political aisle you’re on, these are not easy times. Although Republicans have control of both chambers of Congress, Trump hardly has a mandate, losing the popular vote by an unprecedented margin. So, although conservatives might feel they have the right to gloat, they probably shouldn’t do so. Neither can democrats take too much consolation in Clinton’s popular-vote win, seeing as the Electoral College likely won’t break with tradition and vote against Trump.
Even so, and despite all the doom and gloom out there, there is some good to be found in the wake of this year’s elections. If we choose to look for it—if we choose to see it—it’s out there.
For instance, liberals can take comfort in the fact that more than 3.7 million people are finding fellowship and comfort in the invitation-only Facebook group Pantsuit Nation. Although opponents like to mock this group and disparage its “secret group” status, the fact of the matter remains that the group has become a safe, positive place for millions of people to share their fears, their hopes, and their real-world experiences fighting against hate, bigotry, racism, sexism, and intolerance. This is a good thing for a lot of good people.
If this election has done anything, it has awakened the nation to the heated intolerance that has long been simmering under the surface (and frequently bubbling above it). We have been awakened to the ongoing racism that many of us hoped we were at least beginning to put behind us. We have been awakened to the continuing sexism that many of us hoped we were overcoming. We have been awakened to the persistent intolerance that keeps us separated into groups of “us” and “them.” Those are difficult awakenings, but they are educational and illuminating as well. Now that these pressing issues are even more out in the open, perhaps we can begin to address them.
Indeed, people are already looking for ways to fight all the isms we face. For instance, the American Civil Liberties Union announced a whopping $7.2 million in donations in the five days after the November 8 election, an increase of 259% over the same period in 2012, when President Obama won his second term. The Atlantic reported that Planned Parenthood had seen “an unprecedented outpouring of support,” with almost 80,000 donations landing landing in less than a week since the election; those numbers had grown to 200,000 by November 17 (with at least 50,000 of those donations made in Mike Pence’s name). The Sierra Club, the NAACP, the National Immigration Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign, and Lambda Legal also have seen increases in donations, including a bump in the number of first-time donations as well.
Nonprofits aren’t the only organizations to see an influx of new funds. Real news organizations also are seeing more support from the citizenry, particularly in the wake of reports of how “fake news” sullied the election. Pro Publica, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and other serious news outlets are seeing more subscribers—which is good news.
“Democracy cannot succeed
unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.
The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt
More good news comes in the fact that 2016 saw an unprecedented number of women of color elected to office: Ilhan Omar, Kamala Harris, Catherine Cortez Masto, Tammy Duckworth, Pramila Jayapal, and Lisa Blunt Rochester. Also, Kate Brown of Oregon was elected as the country’s first openly LGBT governor. This kind of diversity is good for the nation.
In fact, for those who care to look, we’re seeing more and more messages of progress and hope from every corner of America. This despite the fact that we’re also seeing an increase in the number of reported hate crimes, with victims coming from both sides—from the ranks of both Clinton supporters and Trump supporters. New Yorkers have covered subway walls in love notes. Muslims in Nashville are finding kind and cheerful notes written in sidewalk chalk. Friends Zainab Chaudary and Elizabeth Grotyohann launched the website And Then They Came For Us as a place where people can share their stories. A “Love Rally” was held at Washington University in St. Louis.
There is good all around us. People are lifting each other up. Messages of hope and inspiration and support are all over social media and traditional media, from Twitter and Facebook to Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan. Of course, messages of hate and anger and intolerance are all around as well, but we have a choice as to which messages to focus on.
As we come to Thanksgiving and the holiday season, let’s focus on the positive. Let’s start seeing the good. Doing so need not necessarily mean that we don’t fight for what’s important to us. It need not mean that we ignore injustice, that we avert our eyes from hate, that we silence ourselves in the face of intolerance. But we can choose to look ahead with hope.
I choose to look ahead with hope. I choose to do more to focus on the positive. I choose to start seeing the good. And, I choose to do more to practice the sort of kindness that will lift each other up rather than tearing each other down.
Will you join me?
No act of kindness,
No matter how small,
is ever wasted.