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November 12, 2016

So I just got the memo that everyone had to write down their opinion on the presidential election on the internet, so here goes.

My immediate reaction wasn’t surprise, it was more like dread. But it quickly became acceptance, then intrigue, then optimism. It always seemed possible to me that Trump could win; I just hoped it wouldn’t happen because of what it would mean. It would mean that political experience isn’t necessary. It would mean that style is greater than substance. It would mean that maybe things are so bad that change is preferable  no matter what the sacrifice. But as with everything in life, there are two sides to the story.

This election has been so layered that as I digest each one, my feeling changes. There is the fact that this is an enormous win for democracy; clearly it wasn’t rigged after all, and an enormous outlier beat the establishment. But then there is the fact that Hillary won the popular vote and for the second time in my lifetime the most powerful man in the world was not voted for by the majority.

Many people love Trump. And many people hate him. But no one seemed to love Hillary. As an option she was the lesser of two evils, but never the solution. And which is better after all? Someone who a majority will grudgingly settle for? Or someone who a significant minority are passionate for?

Yes, Hillary represents the establishment. Yes, there are multiple indicators of corruption. But to me plenty of it has been blown of proportion through paranoid speculation. The best selling point for Hillary was that she was a woman. But frankly, maybe women can find a better representative? Then again; surely America as a whole can do better than Trump? His supporters will blame the lopsided media coverage; and perhaps the unfair majority was negative. But rather than shady speculation, the negative media was generated through genuine quotes and behaviours of a man who has shown tendencies to be a racist, misogynistic bigot. But I have to feel that we haven’t yet seen the real Donald Trump. He came into this race knowing that he was an outsider, and that his best chance was to cause a stir. It worked and he stuck with it. The reality will be fascinating to observe in coming months.

So in the interest of keeping things somewhat balanced: Trump certainly does speak more openly than a typical politician. As a statement, that is refreshing; I just hope the overall content improves now he has won. His acceptance speech was certainly the most humble I have seen from the man. He does represent change, and something of a voice of the people; I just hope that change comes from both sides of the political spectrum, and the people keep open minds.

This whole campaign has been based around the demonisation of the opposition. That in itself is probably the worst indicator of the status quo. Whether it is the media, social network platforms, or simply personal responsibility, most of us have lost sight of the balance that is vital to successful democracy.

Political correctness has caused a quagmire of taboo, and one that is inhuman to maintain. But it is based upon progressive inclusivity. It is wrong to vilify people based on where they identify on a gender spectrum. But perhaps it is also wrong to expect people to refer to thirty different gender pronouns.

Building a wall to keep fellow human beings out of your arbitrary patch of dirt is not a solution, but neither is abuse of borders and futile acceptance of refugees at the expense of your people.

Blindly accepting the word of government when it is entrenched in corporate corruption is not wise, but neither is blind paranoia towards a democratic system. We must be aware that power and greed and conspiracy all factor into large scale decision making, but not at the expense of faith in humanity or truth in men’s speech. Paranoia and naivety are not as defined as social media portrays.

It is easy to look around at the rates of crime and violence and unrest and think that immediate change is essential. But we must also look at the massive improvements in quality of life, education, communication and luxury that are our modern lives.

We must keep open minds to the fact that people see the world differently, value things differently, experience life differently, and know that acceptance is better than hate.

Trump represents unity to some, and division to others. A President helps to mould the mood of the people, but the people do likewise in return. The scariest thing is not currently Trump himself. There is the possibility that he will be before long, but there is no point in reacting emotionally to something that hasn’t and might not happen. The scariest thing is that even if it isn’t the majority of Trump supporters; there are clear examples of people who have used Trump as an excuse for the negative change they want. Changes like racial exclusivity and female subservience and sexual discrimination. It was the same with Brexit. There was a clear rationale for the decision; but there were those who abused part of its meaning for their own archaic ideals.

For Trump to be a president that we can all accept he needs to maintain his open honesty while promoting tolerance. He needs to bolster American pride, without superiority. He needs to represent change, but for genuine progression, and not change’s sake. He must represent America with his charisma and experience in mutually beneficial deal making… but not allow a vocal minority to use his name for the evil that many are fearing.

It is important for all of us to realise that there is good and bad on both sides. We must all maintain a view on the horizon that supersedes political wings, which is peace and prosperity for all walks of people. We must stand against those who block that progress in the long term and in the short term endeavour to see the merit in ideals which we do not personally hold.

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