The 2016 presidential election has been one of the most heated and ugly elections in recent history. Emotions outweigh logic. Lies outweigh truth. Anger outweighs compassion.
Whatever the outcome, here’s a simple guide on how to make it through election day and beyond without becoming a worse person in the process.
On Election Day
What TO do
DO vote your conscience. Don’t let your peer groups, whether it be family, friends, work, religion, party, or anyone else pressure you into voting for someone who goes against your conscience. Vote for who most closely aligns with your values and you believe will be best for our country.
DO vote for down-ballot candidates and propositions. The president is only one person and will have limited affect on your life and your community. Put just as much consideration into voting for representatives, local officials, and state propositions – they will have a much bigger impact on you.
DO vote responsibly. Take the time to research all the candidates and propositions, and vote based on educated and informed beliefs.
What NOT to do
DO NOT vote on group loyalty. It’s ok disagree with your political party, your religious leaders, or your professional associations. Don’t vote for someone or something you don’t believe in just because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do.
DO NOT vote arbitrarily. You don’t have to vote for everything on the ballot. If there are candidates or propositions that you are unsure of, you can leave them blank. Otherwise you could end up unknowingly voting for someone or something that you actually disagree with.
DO NOT stress. Whatever the outcome, it’s only 4 years and there are checks and balances. For the most part, the president has very little affect on your day-to-day life, so there’s no point in worrying.
After Election Day
What TO do
DO be kind. This has been one of the most bitter and divided elections in recent history. Remember that people are more than their political beliefs. Treat others with compassion and dignity regardless of their views.
DO accept the new president. We have a stable democracy that has lasted over 200 years based on accepting the outcome of an election and a peaceful transfer of power. You can both criticize a president while also rooting for their success. In the words of George H.W. Bush after losing to Bill Clinton, “You will be our president…your success is our success. I’m rooting hard for you.” Whatever your views, be humble enough to root hard for Trump or Clinton because we’re ultimately rooting for America.
DO be active in your community. Democracy is more than just a vote. The strength of our nation rests on the collective contributions that individuals make to society. Discuss, participate, and volunteer.
What NOT to do
DO NOT lament the end of America. People do this after every election and yet we’re still here. All it does is make you bitter while spreading it to others. Instead of complaining, go do something productive.
DO NOT group and demonize people with opposing views. It’s easy to make a blanket statement about all liberals or conservatives or any other group as the enemy, un-American, idiots, or evil. Those are the ignorant and extremist views cause divide and prevent us from moving forward together. Make an effort to understand opposing views and find agreement and compromise.
DO NOT become apathetic over the next 4 years. It’s easy to get hyped up over an election, disconnect for 4 years, and then complain about the candidates when the next election comes. If you really care about better candidates, join a local group for a major party or third party.
Contrary to a lot of the poisonous rhetoric out there, America is strong because its diversity.
Both liberals and conservatives create a balanced system. Both the middle class and the millionaires drive growth in the economy. Both whites and minorities contribute to a richer American culture.
Your fellow Americans (and Americans in process) are your neighbors. Don’t let a vote turn them into your enemies.