What’s next?

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President and First Lady escort former President Obama and Michele after the inauguration. Photo by Stephen Crowley/The New York Times.

By Sarah Schroeder

This morning I witnessed the worst of the state of political discourse in our country. Over the past two weeks, our group of Drake students have discussed how to talk to and about those we disagree with. Our group covers a very wide range of political ideologies, yet we all can have conversations and attempt to understand the other point of view. This is common at Drake, I always feel like I can talk to other students about politics, without any yelling or attacks. So maybe I’m just used to speaking with college students who value diverse opinions, but I’m not often exposed to those who cannot stand to see anyone with differing ideas (except, of course, on Facebook).

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Sunrise at the inauguration with a sea of red MAGA hats. Photo by Taylor Sellers.

 

 

While standing in the crowd this morning at Trump’s inauguration, I felt no sense of unity, no desire to include others. The crowd boo’d every democrat as they entered the inauguration and began yelling ‘lock her up’ several hours before the ceremonies began. I heard the crowd scream obscenities and ‘drain the swamp’ as Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer spoke of inclusion and unity. I heard a consensus, from both Trump during  his speech and the crowd, that the source of all the problems is our government in Washington. Then I heard unrelenting shouts of “U.S.A, U.S.A.”

“Whatever our race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity. Whether we are immigrant or native-born. Whether we live with disabilities or do not. In wealth or in poverty, we are all exceptional in our commonly held, yet fierce devotion to our country” -Senator Chuck Schumer. 

Today I didn’t hear about the Washington, D.C. I have come to know over the past two weeks. I’ve seen what it’s like for Senators and Congressmen to work for their constituents, while still working together. I’ve seen the necessary role lobbyists play in elected officials being able to do their jobs. I’ve seen a bureaucracy that has a purpose and a desire to serve the American people. I’ve seen an ability to have discussions with people you wholeheartedly disagree with. I’ve seen friendships formed with those of opposite ideological beliefs. I’ve seen disagreements and compromises, competition and compassion, patriotism and a desire for the greater good. That’s the Washington I know.

We are prisoners of hope – knowing hope and faith do not exist in the abstract; they are the active conviction that frustration and despair will never have the last word. – Senator Cory Booker

We have a responsibility to our country and to each other to do better. We cannot assume that everyone who disagrees with us is evil, nor that everyone in Washington is out to get us. We can stand up for our beliefs, without knocking others down. As Americans we must do better.

Now Donald Trump is our President and this is the political climate. But I am confident that it doesn’t have to be this way. The process will take a while, because there is so much work to be done, but it isn’t hopeless. We just have to begin.

As President Bartlett would say, what’s next?

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