As ugly and divisive as this Presidential campaign was, as contentious as it became, as harsh as many of the words were, and as unpopular as the top two candidates were, it’s worth noting that President-Elect Donald Trump, Secretary Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama were exemplary in the addresses that they offered in the aftermath of Trump’s victory. There is clearly much work to be done to unify this country. Indeed, as I write this, in the background are news reports of protests in the streets across the country. And of course, it remains to be seen what actions will follow the words. But with all of that as a caveat, let’s be clear: the things said at the beginning of this transition could have been FAR worse, and if we’re honest with ourselves, I suspect most of us would say that we would have expected one or more of the speeches to have been far worse. Instead, we heard this:
“Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely.
Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”
“We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought, but I still believe in America and always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power, and just don’t respect that, we cherish it.”
“Now, everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first.
We all want what’s best for this country. That’s what I heard in Mr. Trump’s remarks last night. That’s what I heard when I spoke to him directly. And I was heartened by that. That’s what the country needs — a sense of unity, a sense of inclusion, a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law, and respect for each other.”
I have as much (or more) difficulty putting aside my cynicism as anyone I know, so yes, I wonder if they’ll follow through. But today I say this unequivocally, without hesitation, and enthusiastically: Bravo, Mr. President-Elect. Bravo, Madam Secretary. Bravo, Mr. President. May your words lead to like actions, and may you help lead us to a place where we are rationally discussing ramifications of potential solutions, rather than simply yelling at one another.
For those who haven’t seen the speeches, all three are embedded below.