It’s been a long and brutal election. You may feel completely dejected if your candidate or a bill or a measure you backed just lost. You invested all this time and energy into fighting for something you believe in and now you feel like all hope is lost. What do you do now?
#1 Remember Democracy Means We Will Vote Again
It may feel like the end of the world, but every election cycle people make doomsday proclamations. Let’s not fight fear with fear. The beauty of living in a democracy is that next year there will be another election to vote for new representatives in Congress. In four years, we get to elect another president. Dictators spend decades in power but the U.S. has different branches of government for the purpose of spreading the power. We can even impeach or recall someone in office if they are not fulfilling their duty to the people. Campaign rhetoric is filled with pledges to do things that people want to hear. Ultimately, the reality of what can and can’t be done generally happens through long processes and not through mere words.
#2 Realize People Will Always Have Different Opinions
I’ve heard many people lose friendships over this election. I have very close friends who did not hold the same opinions on issues and candidates as me. We had deep conversations and spirited debates about it. Now the election is over, I still love those friends. At the end of the day, we are all human and created uniquely. That’s why we also think independently of each other and have different personalities. The key is recognizing that we have different life experiences which lead us to our different viewpoints. At the same time, we also have many things in common that we do agree about. After all the mean rhetoric, let’s try to unite on things we agree on and have healthy debate on things we disagree on. Fight hate with words of love.
#3 Continue to Educate People About Issues You Care About
We need to have hope that people can change their opinion. Having done some lobbying, it does make a difference that an elected official hears a personal story of how an issue affects someone. Many politicians make blanket statements but when you get one-on-one time with them, it humanizes issues. Allow people room to change their mind if you approach them in a respectful way. I used to hold staunch positions on some issues until I met people who had personal stories that changed my perspective. Likewise, I’ve seen people change their views on something because I shared my story with them. The key is not to educate people in a hostile way but to do it with kindness.
#4 Travel to Another Country
Many celebrities have threatened to move to Canada after this election. Yes, there are other lovely countries around the world you could live in. However, there are also many countries that are in way worse conditions. We definitely take for granted the freedoms and privileges in the U.S. I once spent a week in a rural part of Mexico helping administer health care and passing out basic goods to migrant farm workers there. The children had no shoes. Families lived in tin shacks that had no floor or door. The place I stayed in had cold running water only 12 hours a day. We haven’t even talked about the true corruption in the government there and in other countries. In Asia, I’ve met people who were imprisoned for their religious beliefs. You might need a vacation after this election so use it to gain some new perspective.
The beauty of living in a free country is that we have the power of free speech and choices. You still can influence change for the better in many ways so don’t stop trying.