The Audacity of Hope under a Trump Presidency

It’s no secret that I was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton throughout this race, despite the complications that it could potentially cause in my work in Washington. I felt what was at stake was worth it, and I have no regrets. Despite the election results, I am holding onto hope.

Today, Donald J. Trump is our President-Elect, and as I predicted on election day, it looks as if it’s a possibility that he will take the Electoral College but not the popular vote. As I promised then, “I believe in our democratic system, even if Donald J. Trump wins the electoral college and not the popular vote, I will accept the results of this election. If by law he becomes the President Elect, I will obviously be personally upset, but I will respect our American tradition and I will put feelings aside to continue to work for a better future.

This political season has been more divisive than any experience in my life, but that’s okay, that’s what Freedom looks like. We’ll move on. Whatever the results, we’ll be alright.”

On Election night I stayed up to watch Mr. Trump’s victory speech, and despite my personal opposition to his candidacy, he gave me a tiny, tiny reason to have hope. After Secretary Clinton’s concession call, Mr. Trump’s speech was conciliatory towards Clinton and her supporters.

The part of his speech that struck me most was this:

“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.”

There are many reasons that I opposed Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Chief among them is where my professional life intersects with my personal passion: taking care of veterans. I personally believe that Mr. Trump’s policy proposals for veterans are, while well-intentioned, misguided and severely lacking. I believe this so strongly that I felt that publicly speaking out against Mr. Trump was worth risking my reputation, my professional life, my future in the world of veterans advocacy and in Washington DC.

But Mr. Trump’s speech gave me a small, glimmer of hope. For him to say that he would reach out to those who chose not to support him for guidance and help… this gives me some much-needed cautious optimism.

I am hopeful that under a Trump Presidency that there is room at the table for people like me to provide advice and assistance. I am hopeful that this President-Elect, who despite running as an outsider, and all evidence to the contrary, does respect the opinions and experience of policy experts in all fields — and that he’ll quickly turn over a new leaf to study the issues he must know as Commander-in-Chief and President.

No woman or man can run this country alone. This will be a team effort, and I am not quitting just because my side lost.

I congratulate President-Elect Trump, and all of his supporters on a hard-fought race.

And I encourage everyone — supporters from both sides and those who sat this one out — to look at the demographics information from the exit polls. This looks to me like there are indeed two Americas, and we all need to do our best to push past the politics of division to find common ground.

We must pay attention the the fact that minorities and LGBTQ Americans overwhelmingly voted in favor of Secretary Clinton. My friends in these communities are frightened of Candidate Trump, and for good reason. I encourage everyone to rally around them and support them, and use everything in their power to protect them.

President Elect Trump and his allies will need to do a ton of work to prove that Trump by stoking hate and fear, he was just putting on a show to win the election. We must demand that Vice President-Elect Mike Pence disavow terrible and inhuman things like “conversion therapy.”

Republicans must to listen to women, and respect their bodies and their value as human beings and as equals.

Republicans would be wise to remember that demographic trends, and the divisive language used by Candidate Trump is setting their party up for complete and utter devastation in 2018 and 2020.

This unified Republican government will be able to act with few effective checks and balances to protect the minority party’s views — and if they don’t respect the fact that Secretary Clinton won the popular vote, they will be trading the next four years for the next twenty.

2020 is a census year, and if the unified Republican government oversteps its mandate, the Democratic Party will be set to sweep the White House, the House, the Senate, Governorships and State Legislative Bodies — and the Republican party will be locked out of power for at least a decade. This is the lesson that liberals learned from the lasting sting of the 2010 Tea Party Revolution.

Democracy is messy, and in search of a More-Perfect Union, our history has been filled with mistakes and troubling times. It’s up to all of us to keep believing in America, and I have no doubt in my mind that every patriot who voted in this election had the best intentions.

To those who are distraught, who have lost faith: I am sure that in time, the sting of a political loss will fade. Keep in mind that our great nation is not the only one experiencing an uncomfortable sort of revolution. There’s the Arab Spring, there’s Brexit, there’s instability in the European Union. We are not alone. Everyone on the planet is experiencing the discomfort of the rapidly changing world in the 21st Century.

You have every right to be afraid. To be enraged. To be disappointed. To be disgusted. I am too.

But I maintain my faith because I believe these populist revolutions will result, after some temporary chaos, pain and suffering, in our world moving in a better direction.

We must do everything we can to love our neighbors. To show that we can be trusted and relied upon. We must continue to work together toward a safer, more stable world. We must be willing to work and sacrifice and compromise. We may not live in the world that we wish to, but we have to fight for the good of our children. That’s what life is all about.

Secretary Clinton — thank you for all of your dedication to your vision of a better future. Your life of service is one to be admired and emulated.

Mr. President-Elect — I wish you peace and success as the leader of the free world.

To my friends — I promise to continue fighting for what I believe to be just, to continue serving our country.

Always remember, we’re #StrongerTogether.

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