Cody R. DeHaan

Stronger Together

I’m a strong believer in the inherent good-ness of most people. I believe that, provided the right conditions and circumstances, people move in a healthy, growth-oriented, and positive direction.

However, given imperfect circumstances, we cannot fully expect individuals to act in positive ways, ways that are prosocial, growth-oriented, and inclusive of others.

What we’ve seen in this election cycle is that many individuals find themselves in circumstances that leave them feeling unsupported. It is understandable that people in imperfect circumstances would want change.

In this election cycle, we had essentially two options. One, an individual who has spent most of her life working on behalf of disadvantaged individuals, and who presented a realistic case for steady, continual improvement. The same kinds of small steps forward we took under our current president, such as marriage equality, getting more Americans healthcare, and advancing environmental protections. This progress wasn’t perfect, but it advanced the idea that all Americans deserve to be on fairer footing.

On the other hand, we have an individual who is a well-known businessman. He came in promising change, and meanwhile gives voice to some of the most unfortunate and hateful sides of people. He does this while giving pithy catchphrases to all of the people and groups he speaks against. And these phrases caught on. He takes advantage of the anger and resentment many feel about a world that seems to decreasingly represent their interests, and provides convenient scapegoats toward which people can direct their anger.

I could never, ever bring myself to vote for the latter. He has demonstrated his flagrant disregard for the rights and respect of women, sexual and racial minorities, and those with disabilities, all while being tragically unqualified and eschewing even a base level of decorum. So the reality that this candidate has won the election is deeply troubling and discouraging to me.

I am entirely convinced that the next four years are going to be a giant setback in our nation’s history.

However, this election should also serve as a wake-up call to those who believe in the rights and dignities of all individuals. If there’s a chunk of our country who is hateful toward individuals that don’t look like them, that don’t love like them, that don’t live like them—that is a sign that we’ve got more work to do. We’ve got to keep working to build a country where individuals have the supports to get them out of tough situations when things aren’t going their way. A nation that provides safety nets for struggling individuals like it does for its struggling corporations. A nation that provides freedom for all not by letting us struggle on our own, but by realizing that we are all in this together.

Because while it may have been a campaign slogan, I wholeheartedly believe that we are all, as a nation and as a planet, stronger together.

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