Where to Now? Moving Forward from the 2016 Election

A lot of ink—not to mention tears—have been spilled since the election. Some people are surprised, saddened, and scared, others are ebullient, while still others might hang somewhere in the middle, unsure how to feel, how to react, and how to make sense of their conflicting emotions. But if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it might be this: The 2016 election has sure felt like one of the most emotionally-charged, divided elections in recent history.

I don’t want to use this space to cry, celebrate, or blame. Rather, I’d like to make two propositions for us Americans as we make our way into this murky political future. These are things we should have been doing all along, but better late than never, right?

First, we need to start listening. I don’t mean putting an ear to the echo chamber—I mean listening and having productive discussions with people who don’t share all (or any) of your views. No shutting people down because you don’t like what they have to say. No invalidating someone’s opinion because of who they are. You don’t have to agree, but you need to hear out the other side. And you deserve to have the other side hear you out, too. If we don’t listen, we’re wrapping ourselves tighter and tighter in our own out-of-touch bubbles. Let’s not play political pig-in-the-blanket.

Second, we need to be more informed. That doesn’t mean you have to dedicate four hours every day to reading the news, but it means practicing responsibility when it comes to staying up-to-date. Check out the sources of the articles you read; verify the publication date of the article your friend just shared; actually read the article before you go spouting off something you “learned” in a headline. If you see someone sharing news that appears to be fake, say something about it. Don’t confine yourself to the opinions of one newspaper, and don’t forget about keeping up with your local news.

These propositions, by the way, are not meant for any one “side” in particular. They’re meant for all of us. Remember, if you don’t start taking action for America’s political future, you might not like who does.

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