A new message of “forward together” is needed now more than ever. Only half of all eligible voters voted on Tuesday. Half of them voted for Donald Trump and half for Hillary Clinton. She got more popular votes. But that means only one fourth of the country elected our next president. He will need to be a president for all of us.
A dark cloud has hung over us during an incredibly divisive and bitter campaign with often hateful language and bullying behaviors. We may have been afraid to talk to co-workers or neighbors or family members in fear they may support the other candidate and we did not want to have to debate with them. People on both sides felt this way.
Hillary Clinton’s speech to her staff on Wednesday had many important and inspiring messages as we move forward as a country. I encourage you to find the speech online to gain some perspective and to renew your hope for the future.
I watched her speech with my husband and the general contractor on our outside house project. He and his crew have been working here for several weeks on a major redo project – new patio, landscape and fence. They are a nice group of guys and we chat each day. But we consciously never brought up the election.
The general contractor needed to talk to us about a change order so came into the house Wednesday morning. He saw we were not in a good mood and asked who we had supported. He told us he voted for Trump. Bottom line, he thought a change was needed but admitted that he couldn’t defend a lot of what Trump said on the campaign trail. We debated a bit but it was civil.
He said he wanted to see Hillary’s speech when it came on. I went outside and got him when it was time. He sat in our living room with one of our dogs on his lap and watched. I sat behind him in the kitchen with tears. He thanked us for letting him come in and watch and said she made some great points. I told him that I did it with a big heart.
In her speech, Clinton recognized the disappointment of her supporters and acknowledged her own, and asked us to remember: “Our campaign was never about one person, or even one election. It was about the country we love and building an America that is hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted. We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America, and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power.”
And on the importance of voting and participating in the democratic process, she said – “Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time. So let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear. Making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top, protecting our country and protecting our planet, and breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams.”
I couldn’t agree more on the importance of being inclusive in our workplace, our communities, and our schools – “We spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone. For people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities. For everyone.”
And we cannot forget the young people who had such hopes for the future. She spoke directly to all of you – “Many of you are at the beginning of your professional, public and political careers — you will have successes and setbacks, too. This loss hurts, but please, never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is, it’s worth it.”
And finally she spoke to all the young girls who went to the polls with their parents and watched them vote with excitement and anticipation of electing our first female president – “Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
One of my daughters has two young daughters of her own. She posted on Facebook yesterday asking any of her friends who voted for Trump to help her understand why they supported him. She asked they not criticize Hillary but rather explain their positive vote for Trump. I am proud of her for seeking to understand others.
As Hillary Clinton said we need to be willing to speak up for what is right. It is always worth it. So, I will heed her advice and approach the next four years with an open mind. And I will continue to work for a more hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted world through all my words and actions wherever I may be.