The day after the general election on Kauai, morning drivers were greeted by a wonderful sight: Winners, and those who fell short in their bid for public office, were holding “Mahalo” signs and waving to passersby.
Incumbent Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, who was reelected, was out there. Incumbent Councilman KipuKai Kuali’i, who was not reelected, was there. Challenger Juno-Ann Apalla, who fell short in her bid for county council, was there. Doctor Norma Sparks, another council challenger who didn’t garner enough votes, was there. It was a welcome showing of grace, dignity and respect. Win or lose, candidates and their supporters said thank you.
We are honored and fortunate to have people like this on Kauai.
And then, you have the opposite going on across the country. Supporters of Hillary Clinton, angered that she was defeated in her bid for president by Donald Trump, had another idea of how to react: violence, hatred and profanity. Ironic, the very things they accused Trump of promoting, they are now doing. Protesters across the country blocked highways, smashed store windows, started fires, used rocks and bats to break business windows and destroy vehicles at dealerships. Some of these are the folks carrying “Love Trumps Hate” signs as they curse and rage and disparage their next president.
One online commentator responded to the protests with this: “So blocking traffic, burning the flag and other violent acts shows that you are disgusted with the nation’s choice … too bad … that is life … you don’t get your way … You are selfish people … well go protest the real problem … because right now YOU ARE THE PROBLEM … and just for the record … no I did not vote for Trump … but I am not going to flip out about it … it is called being a grown-up.”
It’s one thing to be upset your candidate lost. Peaceful demonstrations are welcome — and there have been hundreds of peaceful anti-Trump protests across the country. Political protests are part of America. It’s another to resort to rioting and destruction. Some didn’t like the outcome of a democratic election, their candidate did not win, so they are protesting.
Surprising, it is not.
One could argue, however, that it’s proper to show respect to the winner of the election, no matter what you think of he or she. What about being gracious in defeat? Grace when finishing second? Dignity in a difficult political defeat?
Even someone as old as outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who should set an example of respect and common courtesy, opted to insult the president- elect, calling him a “sexual predator” who “fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate.” Instead of calling for people to respect the democratic process that put Trump into office and work toward a better future together, he creates more division with angry words.
Folks, like it or not, Trump won. Hate him or love him, he won. Did he say a lot of silly, rude, insulting things along the way? Yes. Is he brash and rich ? Yes. But he still won. It’s history. He did something few thought possible. We just witnessed one of the greatest upsets in political history. No one saw this when he announced he was running for the Republican nominee for president. Few believed he would defeat Clinton. Perhaps the only person who really believed it possible then was Trump himself.
So, where do we go from here? Not the way of hatred and violence. We can keep complaining, or we can resolve to move ahead with conviction and determination to do better. We can follow the lead of President Barack Obama, who pledged to work with Trump. “My No. 1 priority in the next two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our president-elect is successful,” Obama said.
If you don’t want to listen to our president, perhaps the words of Hillary Clinton, given in a concession speech many called her finest speech, might mean something.
“Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans,” Clinton said. “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”
A classy response from someone whose heart was likely broken Tuesday night.
Here’s a few suggestions on where we go from here. Get involved in government. Pay attention to what your elected leaders are doing. Be part of the process. If you oppose Trump, then start planning on how to defeat him in 2020. Get behind a candidate you believe in and help them in their bid for public office. Encourage people to vote, as well as voting. Keep tabs on your elected leaders. Become a leader of the principles you believe in.
And let’s consider what’s going on in this country that opened the door for a Trump presidency. How did this happen? What led to it? There’s more to it than an angry middle class so desperate they voted for a billionaire who had a reality TV show. There’s more to it than just sending a middle-finger message to the established political system. That’s a nice, simplistic way to package it, but there’s more to the story.
More than 60 million people voted for Trump. It’s not because they’re all angry and too dumb to know any better. Let’s spend some time discussing the real problems in this country. How about some reasonable, respectful discussions and listening to opposing viewpoints instead of dismissing them? Let’s open our eyes and look all around, instead of having a narrow-minded vision unwilling to change. Overcome personal prejudice with an open mind and give Trump a chance to lead, as Hillary Clinton said.
This election made it clear: There is a major divide in America. It’s not just one between the haves and the have nots. We can start the process toward healing by being respectful, or we can continue with the name calling and violence and whining about how we’re ashamed of America — none of which does any one any good. Of course, many will argue that Trump wasn’t respectful on many occasions, so why should we be now? Because we can be better.
If we need an example of how to do better, if we need someone to show us the way, look no further than the people on Kauai with mahalo signs and waving the day after Tuesday’s election. Win or lose, they displayed grace and respect and common courtesy. Let’s spread to the world what these people have.