Election 2016 aftermath: Where does America go from here?

"This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it."

“This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it,” Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech.

The losing side in an election often asks itself such a soul-searching question the morning after experiencing a devastating loss. And make no mistake: The election of Donald J. Trump is a devastating loss for America.

As of this writing, ballots were still being counted. And although Trump won the Electoral College, Hillary Clinton is winning the popular vote. “If the trend holds, Clinton is on track to become the fifth candidate to win the popular vote while losing the election,” said a story on Talking Points Memo.

But lose she did. In a gracious concession speech before a packed hotel ballroom of supporters, many of whom were openly weeping, Clinton called for America to accept the result, hoping that Trump would be “a successful president for all Americans.” From a transcript of the speech:

Our campaign was never about one person, or even one election. It was about the country we love and building an America that is hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted. We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America, and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power.

We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them. …

We spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone.

For people of all races, and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities. For everyone. …

Let us have faith in each other. Let us not grow weary. Let us not lose heart. For there are more seasons to come and … more work to do.

The visual of Clinton, her family, and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, dressed in somber colors of black, dark gray, and purple, told the story as much as anything. The darkness matches the mood of many in the country, Republicans as well as Democrats.

The ugliness of this campaign will not soon fade. The insults; the denigration of minorities, immigrants, refugees, and women; the threats and hints of fascism — all of that is still fresh in our memory. Some Trump supporters were gleeful in their win, as bad as they were at Trump rallies.

The GOP “Never Trump” crowd offered congratulations, but you could tell their hearts weren’t in it. Trump campaign advisers already were claiming to be “taking names” of Republicans who didn’t support their candidate.

The Rev. John Pavlovitz, a pastor at the North Raleigh (North Carolina) Community Church, writes a blog called “Stuff That Needs To Be Said.” He eloquently described the deepness of this loss in a post with the title, “Here’s Why We Grieve Today”:

Hillary supporters believe in a diverse America; one where religion or skin color or sexual orientation or place of birth aren’t liabilities or deficiencies or moral defects. Her campaign was one of inclusion and connection and interdependency. It was about building bridges and breaking ceilings. It was about going high.

Trump supporters believe in a very selective America; one that is largely white and straight and Christian, and the voting verified this. Donald Trump has never made any assertions otherwise. He ran a campaign of fear and exclusion and isolation — and that’s the vision of the world those who voted for him have endorsed. …

This is the disconnect and the source of our grief today. It isn’t a political defeat that we’re lamenting, it’s a defeat for Humanity.

We’re not angry that our candidate lost. We’re angry because our candidate’s losing means this country will be less safe, less kind, and less available to a huge segment of its population, and that’s just the truth.

So we have a President-elect Trump. He says he will find a way forward for all Americans, but I wonder. Besides the divisive campaign, we have a president-elect who knows only surface information about the world and about America. He’s still a bully and unwilling to listen and learn. Whether a wall ever gets built (it won’t), whether Muslims or others are banned from entering the U.S. (doubtful), whether free trade agreements are totally scrapped (unlikely), he’s not going to do many of the awful things he promised in the election. But no doubt he will do some of them.

Will a president’s staff take away his cell phone so he can’t send tweets at 3 a.m.? Can you imagine listening to a State of the Union address from President Trump? Can you envision what his legislative agenda will be like, with a Republican Senate and House? Can you picture his cabinet and Supreme Court nominees?

Does anyone actually think he’ll stop lying constantly?

The Kübler-Ross model of the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Well, we can’t deny what happened. There’s no bargaining to be done. We’ll have to accept it. But we’re going to be angry and depressed for quite a while.

Somewhere out there is a young girl with big dreams who might someday break the ultimate glass ceiling and become the president of the United States. But not today.

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