Last week’s presidential election revealed not so much a nation divided, as it did a society whose residents inhabit two very different realities — with the apparent inability of those who live in one to understand the perceptions and beliefs of those who live in the other.
Which begs the question: How do we move forward in the face of that newly exposed reality?
What can our community, which largely supported Hillary Clinton — reportedly, 70 percent of Jews backed the Democrat for president — learn from the rude awakening early in the morning of Nov. 9 when Donald Trump was declared the winner? And while we understand that half the electorate does not share many of our views, is it really so clear that “the other half of the electorate” is that much different from us?
Post-election polls report surprising statistics regarding many aspects of the vote, including that a majority of college-educated white men and women voted for Trump. And that’s in addition to the blue collar and working middle class vote that most understood to be favoring Trump.
So, how should we react? While street demonstrations against the lawful winner appear to be a waste of time, acceptance of the result doesn’t mean that anyone needs to compromise or abandon core beliefs and moral principles. Rather, even as we accept that the country wants change, we see no reason not to continue to insist that our leaders show the kind of compassion, concern, sensitivity and respect that has been the hallmark of American exceptionalism since the birth of our republic.
But rather than complain, call names, accuse and point fingers, we suggest that the wisest course is to wait and see. Will the president-elect move smoothly from rhetoric to planning to action? That is not going to be easy, even with both houses of Congress and the executive branch in the hands of one party. Indeed, the Republican Party, considered as good as dead a few weeks ago, is very much alive but clearly divided. Nonetheless, the responsibility is now theirs to improve the economy, fix the national infrastructure, improve the health care system, make college affordable, provide retraining for the unemployed Americans whose jobs will not be returning or bring those jobs back, save the social safety net, reduce the debt, keep relations with our allies — including Israel — strong, manage relations with adversaries such as Russia and China, remain involved in the Middle East and lead the way to blunting the environmental catastrophe caused by global warming.
It’s a long list. But no longer than it was during the last eight years. Trump has promised to solve most of these problems. We hope that he can. And it is because of that hope that we pray that Trump and his team will move to heal the fissures of our society as they make the White House theirs. We wish them well, and we are ready to do what we can to help.