Ventriss VPR Commentary on Opportunity and Obligation

by Lisa Ventriss, President
On the Friday before Election Day I came home to find my copy of Hillary Clinton’s memoir of her time as Secretary of State, Hard Choices, lying on the floor with half of its cover chewed to shreds. Because the only thing my dogs regularly destroy are squeaky tennis balls, I took this as a bad omen and said so to my dogs.

On Tuesday the vote tallies began and what many initially felt was going to be Clinton’s night, turned out to be Trump’s instead. As his supporters celebrated, her supporters began their collective march through the seven stages of grief. And on Wednesday, confused pundits began trying to understand how they could have gotten their forecasts so wrong.

Now a few days out and with some distance from the shock, it’s evident that Americans learned some hard facts that may be difficult to swallow, but which nevertheless provide useful information for future action. In fact, we might want to see them as offering opportunities.

Women – specifically, women of color – made inroads in this election; winning three more seats in the U.S. Senate and bringing the total number to four. Because women possess unique perspectives on all facets of modern domestic and foreign affairs, they should seize the chance to develop the skills, networks, and bases of support needed to build a solid political career for themselves.
This election cycle was so distasteful that 47% of eligible voters willingly let others elect their president. This suggests we should begin again to instill in our citizens, beginning with K-12 students, an appreciation and understanding of civics, and to view engagement as the foundation of a representative democracy.

The concern of the white working class, who believed that their issues had not been heard, was made most visible in the 59 million votes that swept Trump into office. They have an opportunity to channel their anxieties into more productive dialogue, and we have an opportunity to become more intent listeners.

And as this election upset makes its way into the history books, we have the opportunity and the obligation to make sure that the 45th President is successful. Or to quote that wise old founding father, Benjamin Franklin, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

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This commentary originally aired on Vermont Public Radio on November 16, 2016
To listen to the audio of the commentary, visit VPR Post Here