I live in California, a state of blue skies and blue political stances – a state where many people act like Republican is another word for racist. Sexist. Homophobic. Fanatically religious. Stupid.
I live in California, where Hillary Clinton is good and Donald Trump is bad – the absolute worst candidate: an inexperienced, racist, misogynistic, ill-tempered, xenophobic, immature, bigoted rapist. The wrong choice. Simple.
I live in California, where on November 8, Trump remained an old joke, still funny by 6 p.m. With each ticking hour, the nervous laughter abated. Confident spirits sunk into cynical stomachs. By 2 a.m., fantasy and reality had melded together as the new president, Donald J. Trump, gave his acceptance speech.
I live in California, where everything stood still on the morning of November 9th. The sun blazed as an oppressive gloom filled my city. The disappointment was so thick I could taste it. Many chewed on the addictive political poison, making themselves sick inside with frustration, anger, and confusion.
At school, the same peers I usually struggle to relate to shared my drooping facial expression, tired eyes, and sluggish walk. Obnoxious teenagers morphed into cartoon children with rain clouds hovering above their heads. I watched confident students crumple, terrified; some were brought to tears. Many sat in their classes with stone faces and wide eyes. By second period, a protest had begun. There was no rationale for it. No teacher or principal could change the election results. Yet hundreds of students were driven together by nothing but raw, boiling emotion, which they released in screams and cries. Even teachers, figures of authority and sensibility, were in shock. Hardly any lessons were taught that day.
I live in California, where few people understand why anyone would support Trump. We thought Clinton was such a clear choice, given her experience and thorough plans to address the issues facing our nation. What I failed to realize is that because I live in California, I live in a bubble.
I live in a bubble where Obamacare was a success.
I live in a bubble where Planned Parenthood taught my sex ed classes.
I live in a bubble where jobs are not disappearing.
I live in a bubble where diversity thrives. I have friends who are black, LGBTQ, Muslim, and illegal immigrants.
I live in a bubble where no one was angry until Trump was elected.
As difficult as it is, I refuse to continue living this way, stuck in a mindset created by my environment. I don’t like Donald Trump as a politician, businessman, or human being. Still, I refuse to believe that everyone who voted for him is prejudiced and uneducated. I refuse to believe that either side is right or wrong.
Today, there are two Americas. Each version of this nation has an entirely different mindset, created by different facts, media influences, and beliefs about what is wrong with our country. Our nation is divided because neither side will listen to the other. Trump supporters and Clinton supporters are both blinded by anger; each side insists on remaining ignorant about the plight of the other.
This campaign was driven by attacks on character, not by the issues. Both candidates are guilty of this. Now that Donald Trump is the president-elect, the people are attacking each others’ character in the same way.
Now it is more important than ever for us to come together. We have to focus on the issues and fight for our rights. If you live in America, the state you live in no longer matters. What matters is that we give our new president the chance to work for our entire nation. We must communicate our opinions and listen to others, not hurl insults and incite violence.
Dear readers, it is up to each and every one of us to promote unity. I cannot say “everything is going to be fine,” because I don’t know if that’s true. All I know is that we must promote what we stand for without creating more division.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.