Following one of the most unprecedented campaign seasons in U.S. history, Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election surprised political scientists and the general public alike. Many have taken to social media to express their fear and disappointment. Some Americans have already begun to organize protests and vow to refuse to acknowledge a Trump presidency. “I’m still with her” is currently trending on Twitter.
As a proud third-party voter, I washed my hands of both Trump and Hillary Clinton a while ago. Clinton was never someone I considered voting for. Not only do I disagree with her policies, but I find the idea of putting a criminal in office utterly “deplorable,” to use her term. And although I agreed with some of Trump’s policies, I grew tired of trying to rationalize his erratic behavior and unsavory past, which haunted him throughout the election.
But this is not about my opinion any longer. The election is over. Donald Trump has won. It’s time to accept that. If you can’t stand the thought of living in a country where a former reality star is president, then leave. We won’t miss you. America is built on change: We had eight years of Barack Obama, and now, for better or worse, we will have at least four years of Donald Trump: change indeed. And that’s something America can handle.
Despite the memes and snide comments that are circling social media, there are no concentration camps being set up. No nuclear missiles have been set off yet. This is America. We are a democracy. No one gets all the power, not even the president. And definitely not Donald Trump. There are checks and balances in place to prevent the wild-eyed media’s “worst-case scenarios” from happening.
In the United States we live by the principles of freedom. Freedom of speech. Freedom to assemble. If you think Trump represents hate, then spread love. If you think Trump has divided America, then be open to coming together again. But don’t be ignorant enough to try and defy this presidency. This is not a time for ignorance. This is not a time for fear.
In the spirit of keeping an open mind, I admit that I believe Hillary Clinton said it best in her concession speech: “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” He may not be what you expected or wanted, but this is what we got. Give Donald Trump a chance, America.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.