By Kelsey Grant
This was originally published 11.9.2020 as a guest opinion in the Boulder Daily Camera and New York Times.
I was walking the streets of Washington, D.C., when I learned presidential candidate Joe Biden had secured 279 electoral votes, cementing his victory. Up and down every road, people cheered, cars honked their horns, and a crowd marched to the White House to humiliate the soon-to-be former president of the United States.
My phone started vibrating continuously as I received text after text from friends saying: “We did it!” “I love winning!” “It’s finally over!” and “Bye Donald!”
I voted for Joe Biden and was happy with the results, too. Trump wasn’t the candidate who was right for me, and Biden seemed like a better fit, given my hopes for America, myself, and my family.
But his victory did not make me leap for joy or breathe a sigh of relief. Instead, his victory, for me, was met with melancholy, a despondent state, and sickening anxiety that lasted into the night.
How can I celebrate when Abraham Lincoln’s words, “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” echo inside my head? How can I leap for joy when a widespread deficit in empathy and a limitless supply of hate got us to where we are today?
How can I be overwhelmingly happy when the real problems – fear, tribalism, and mutual suspicion – still pervade public and political discourse? Tomorrow, it may be even worse.
But, it doesn’t have to be.
Getting Biden into the White House was the easy part. The real task at hand is much more demanding and arduous than securing a political win. We now need to look in the mirror and seriously consider how we can each facilitate healing in our personal lives and communities.
This is no time to celebrate. That’s right – take down your Biden-Harris (and Trump-Pence) flags and put up an American one. For those of us pleased with the outcome of this election, we should take this time not to bask in our victory, but to hush our excitement (and egos) and extend a hand of kindness, empathy, and respect to our friends, colleagues, and family members who are angry, frustrated, and scared for what the next four years mean for them.
This is the time to grieve as we reflect on how we got here, how we’ve come to hate our neighbors, and what we’ve lost in the process. This ought to be an active, purposeful, and creative grieving where we not only come to terms with our pain, but where we hold ourselves accountable for the mistakes we each have made, pursue radical healing, and look to a better future.
It’s hard, I know. But we will get there. We have to. A brighter tomorrow doesn’t hinge upon our candidate making it to the White House. A brighter tomorrow hinges upon my and your ability to engage with each other and to do it in good faith.
A brighter tomorrow hinges upon everyday Americans seeking to respect their fellow Americans, regardless of their differences, and to work towards a beloved community designed for, enjoyed by, and welcoming to all.
To any American distressed, disappointed, or angered by the election outcome: I promise that I will seek to understand you, respect you, and love you. I will stand with you, and together we will work towards an America that is good for you and is good for me.
Let’s all make that same promise to one another.
Kelsey Grant is a senior at CU-Boulder, an affiliate of the Center for the American West, and a Conservative Fellow for Citizens Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan, nonprofit climate advocacy organization. Here at Adamantine we are grateful to have her keen insights as our Research Intern.