I’m Optimistic and You Should Be Too.

Emotions can only be observed by being a participant in the process, by looking into the eyes of others, and talking with them about their happiness, sadness, joys and fears. The feelings and experiences I have as a millennial man and those I observe in others around me are the wild card factors that can’t exactly be quantified. They can’t be measured, put on a line graph or pie chart.

What I took away from this past election was that those factors were significantly more important than the numbers. The numbers showed a Clinton victory, some by a significant margin. The Moody Analytics model, which had correctly predicted every presidential race since 1980, had Clinton winning by 126 electoral votes over Donald Trump.

But what the data always fails to show are the faces behind those numbers; the men and women who are more than just a point on a graph. In this time of modern technology, with analytics and algorithms relied upon to predict unpredictable human behavior, we lost sight of the human element that was at play in the grand scheme.

For my fellow millennials, whether the election went your way or not, I encourage you to continue to be optimistic for the future.

The Pew Research Center in April of 2016 showed our generation matching the baby boomers as the largest generation demographic able to vote. According to exit polls 18-29 year olds voted for Clinton 55% to 37%, with a five point Republican gain over the last election.[1]

We are the largest, most diverse, highest educated generation in the history of the country. In the next presidential election we will surpass the baby boomers as the largest generation able to vote. We are also the most technologically savvy generation. Given these demographic advantages and the amount of information we have the ability to access, one could make the argument that we will be better informed and critical of the candidates that are put forth to us, keeping them more accountable and more honest than they have been in the past.

However, as the largest generation, it is our responsibility to begin the healing process that the country so desperately needs right now.

This election was a testament to what we all knew. We are living during a time in which our country is more divided than we have ever been. It brought to the surface all of the wild card factors, and revealed just how deep the divisions really are.

This election drew lines along, race, sex, socioeconomic class, and geography. It is now clearer than ever that we truly live in two, maybe more, Americas. Emotions are high on all fronts and to the degree we can come together and work together, is to the degree we will heal.

I woke up Wednesday morning and saw protests all over the country. Many of them were on high school and college campuses, in large cities from coast to coast.

As a student of history, and as one who holds in the highest regards the processes that make our democracy great, I believe that protest is a healthy and necessary function of a thriving democracy.

But what I saw was much of the angry, hateful, intolerant sentiments we saw on the campaign trail repackaged and delivered. Many times by the same people who were preaching tolerance and unity barely a month ago. My Facebook feed was littered with knockdown, drag out arguments between friends, neighbors, and colleagues. I saw #Notourpresident on social media, television, and on signs held by students in the streets. The “They go low, we go high” rhetoric went out the window before all of the votes were even counted.

While the future looks bright, this looks like the same old infighting we really need to get past.

Although I have no more insight than the next guy on what the Trump administration will do, I have a few suspicions and hopes. The rhetoric and image Trump used to get votes was successful in getting him elected, but won’t suffice in running the country. I think Donald Trump the president will be much different than Donald Trump the candidate, much to the disappointment of his supporters; and if worse comes to worst, the Republicans don’t have the super majority necessary to block a filibuster in the Senate.

I did not vote for Donald Trump (I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton either for the record). Living in California, my state was going blue regardless of who I voted for. But the fact of the matter is he’s the president elect. That’s it, case closed. Contrary to the hash tags, he is our president. When he is sworn in he will be sworn to protect, preserve, and defend the Constitution of the United States. It’s time to move on and begin to heal.

As millennials it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the big picture here. The future is bright not just for us, but also for the country as a whole. The world is changing, which creates fear, but I think our generation is one that embraces change. However, the great responsibilities we have, start now. They start with how we treat one another in these coming months and years. They rest on how well we begin our healing process, and most importantly, how we learn to love each other again.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/election-exit-polls.html?_r=0

Also published  on Good Men Project

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