I haven’t felt this uncomfortable in quite a while.
It’s the day after the presidential election. My colleagues are walking around obviously grieving, holding each other in hallways as if they are mourning the passing of a dear friend. Many of them look dangerously close to tears.
While I did not vote for the winner, most don’t know that, as I don’t make a habit of broadcasting my choice. However, it is widely known that I lean more towards a conservative point of view. I am catching sidelong glances that are full of thinly-veiled dislike. I can feel the disgust and the disapproval.
Meanwhile, those that share my conservative bent have been coming into my office, shutting the door, and talking about the election. It seems that, in this atmosphere, these conversations must be clandestine.
The small child in me that wants to be liked by everyone cringes from this moue of distaste whenever I draw near. I didn’t vote for him, either! On the other hand, the adult (who is trying not to feel offended by all of this) is annoyed by the behavior, by the assumption that everyone thinks as they do, by the certainty of the correctness of their beliefs.
Academia is infamous for its liberal leanings. I feel that most acutely, today.
It’s interesting that a group that is intent on creating a community where everyone feels welcome seems to have lost that passion today. I most definitely do not feel welcome.
(Credit: Photo: Centre Pompidou)
We have a fairly significant immigrant population here in Rochester, many of whom hail from areas of the world that are plagued by war. They have come to the United States for sanctuary, for a new start, for a better life. Their previous experience taints their world view, and every now and then you get a glimpse of their challenges in meshing their old life with their new one.
This hit home for me in the last presidential election, which was not as contested (or, let’s face it, downright weird) as the current race, but was the usual flavor of election discord. I watched them as they watched the election results, and as their wonder increased as they realized that there would be a winner, and the losers would perhaps grumble, but would accept the winner as the President.
There would be no coups d’etat. There would be no tanks in the streets. People would not be rounded up and never heard from again.
The keys to the White House would change hands (or not, in the case of the last election) and that would be the end of it.
We take for granted this peaceful transition from one administration to another. We vote and we hope that our candidate wins, but we accept if the ‘other guy’ wins instead. The elected candidate becomes Our President, for good or for bad. We pray that whomever wins will do a good job, but we accept the results.
In the turmoil of an election like this one, it’s easy to forget that this country does this one right. It takes the wonder of an immigrant to shine a light on the process, to remind us that we live in a country reserves the right to disagree, but will abide. As The Bloggess reminded us, It’s Going To Be Okay.