The Election is Over, Now What?


On November 8, 2016, this country changed. An electoral outcome unpredicted even by the victor sent chaotic tremors rippling through a cracked nation. And while the friction of 2016’s presidential election split us, it also saw us pulled close together.  It's true that half of America is reeling in disbelief, while the half jovially champions our new commander-in-chief. But the real fact is this: no matter our political affiliation, all of us are burning with one insatiable question.  

What happens next?

Well, here’s the thing. No one knows, not really. How could we possibly? What we do know is that facing uncertainty, we do what we can. And what we can do is look at the happenings, the contributing factors that led us to this manifest threshold. Like the radar-savvy meteorologist who spies a fresh hurricane closing the mainland, we can construct a predictive model based on the insights this typhoon of an election provided into the American psyche.

So what do we know? We know mistrust and anger are unmatched motivators. We know preservation instinct can override our misgivings and bring about what we’re told is unthinkable. The old media’s failure and many entrenched, supposedly tenured politicians’ waning political control show us the status of any status quo is more malleable than ever before. Any political candidate’s mantra proves our knowledge that people are sick of stasis (and the fact that successful politicians harness this sentiment); we know that some, if not most of us, secretly (or openly) celebrated the shattered monotony of politics as we knew it; that no matter how opposed we were to whichever narrative, somewhere, something inside us reveled in the chaos.

We’ve seen the internet toss around the colossal weight of its influence to the benefit and detriment of everyone. We’ve seen our social media feeds inundated with often false facts designed to reflect, multiply and amplify the ideals native to whichever political hall of mirrors we feel most comfortable residing.

But most of all, what we’ve seen are symptoms of a gaping need. Stability. Unity. Peace of mind. Today, all of these are sorely unmet necessities, and all of these feed directly from our need most primal; the need for a phenom which, whether present or absent at any given time has dictated all actions (for good or ill) of every human being in history.

We need to understand each other. If we can manage to wrap our minds around the underlying frustrations and desires which motivate those we call our opposition, maybe we can begin to empathize with their reasoning. Maybe then all the ugliness we’ve seen, an ugliness which spawns from equating a person’s identity with their opinion, will start to subside. Maybe we will realize that on America’s political battlefield, opposing sides are nothing more than a counterproductive myth.

So we can wonder all day and night about what might happen next; in the end whatever may be will come to pass and (if recent events are any indication) leave all our musings inconsequential. If we as a nation are to ever truly thrive together, I think we would better direct our energy toward realizing that fostering some measure of mutual understanding among our polarized parts is what must happen next.

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