Across the U.S., a record number of 160 million Americans filled out their ballots, and even more obsessively checked the electoral map, watching as each state lit up either blue or red.
Unfortunately, that is where our unity during the presidential election stops. Aside from the one collective want for Nevada to count its ballots faster, Americans are divided against each other every four years.
However this year’s election was vastly different from before. From gun sales being on all all-time high to our ex-president and his supporters refusing to accept his loss, it is clear the climate of the U.S. has changed.
In these past four years, partisan conflict in the U.S. seems to have intensified under Donald Trump’s leadership. Democracy feels like it is on the verge of a crisis, and many look towards our new president, Joe Biden, with either hope or suspicion.
Something we too often forget, however, is that it is not just him that is able to decide our future as a country…The key part is us. While the identity of our president is very important, it is just as important to remember that a great nation starts with its people. It starts with you and me.
Despite this, on Saturday, tens of thousands marched in front of their state capitals (some openly carrying guns) calling for Biden to step down by yelling “Lock him up!”, “This isn’t over!”, and “Stop the Steal!”
The individual in office should not affect our humanity. Whether you were relieved or disappointed by the results of the 2020 election, that should not be what stops you from showing kindness to your neighbors. That should not be what makes you view anyone as less than human.
Politics does not always have to be a cage match. It is important to remember that we do not only “belong” to a political party. The setback of one is a setback for our all.
We can not view the idea of human rights as a “political view”. It is irrefutably non-negotiable. The fact that we have allowed it to not be shows that the real issues lie in our lack of ability to connect with one another. That is not something any president can fix.
The biggest part of change comes down to how we choose to act. As Barack Obama said in his interview on CBS, “I don’t see [Trump] as the cause for our divisions. I think he’s only an accelerant.”
No politician is perfect, and no politician can change a country whose people don’t want to work together.
This means checking our privilege and using it to elevate those who are disadvantaged. This means empathizing with others who are not like us. This means not just depending on one individual to decide that we should be choosing kindness everyday.
So no matter how you felt about the outcome of the 2020 election, it is imperative to acknowledge that it does not strictly decide our future. It is time we work on bridging the gap between one other. Change starts with you and me. One person does not represent America…All of us do.