Reactions to the election

Conley Hurst

Rarely can you literally not believe what you’re watching.

I’m not talking about being shocked by a Hail Mary pass to win a football game or being dumb- founded by a ridiculously low score on a test. I’m talking about moments when, if only for a second, you legitimately question what your eyes are telling you. I’m talking about last Tuesday night.

As Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin all faded from blue to red sometime around midnight, I literally couldn’t believe my eyes. From the day he entered the race to the day of the election, I thought that there was absolutely no way that Donald Trump could be elected President of the United States.

But I was wrong. So was almost every political pundit in the world. Donald Trump, the bombastic real estate mogul and political outsider, despised by half the country but adored by the other, had pulled off the single greatest presidential upset in U.S. history.

What now?

Everyone has his or her own opinion about whether Trump’s election is good or bad for the country, about whether we are heading toward another American golden age or headed off a cliff. But let’s take a step back.

Like it or not, we are living in historic times. Whether they’ll be remembered as the best of times or the worst of times is still up in the air. But Election Day 2016 may go down as the single most historic event of any of our lifetimes. With Brexit and now with Trump, 2016 will be memorized in high school history classes forevermore.

And, like it or not, Donald Trump is now our president-elect. I’ve been vocal in my criticisms of him in previous editorials. Many in this community find him offensive and racist and find his ideals to be downright unAmerican. But now, no matter how strongly we disagree with him or how offensive we find him, we must hope and pray for his success. As President Obama said, if Trump succeeds, then the country succeeds.

In such contentious and understandably emotional times, we must always fall back on those things that unite us instead of those that divide us.

Here at Washington and Lee, we are united by the common ideals of honor and integrity. We respect one another no matter how much we may disagree. We treat each other with civility, as is our tradition. We may have disagreements, but we can always come together at the end of the day as members of the same community.

Now, more than ever, it is critical that we always respect each other’s opinions and comfort each other when distressed, confused, or scared. Now, more than ever, we must strive not to win every argument but to understand the other perspective.

More than anything, this election confirmed how divided our nation truly is. Bridging that gap will be the challenge of our generation. It’s a tall order, but it’s not impossible. Empathy, understanding, respect, civility – these are the keys to healing our nation’s wounds.

Here at W&L, we are uniquely suited to meet this challenge, to seek an understanding of different perspectives, to respect differing opinions, and to simply be a friend, regardless of political leanings.

The path to bridging the divide in this nation will be long and difficult.

It’s never too early to start.