A former teacher of mine, Steve Cwodzinski, was just elected to the Minnesota Senate. It was he who taught me the value of the power of the people. As a senior at St. Olaf College in Northfield, I voted in my first presidential election this year and I am afraid that it is the truth that Obama, victory and progress are basically all I’ve known in my adolescence. Whereas in reality, “We all lose some times.”
So I am torn by the call to unify from President Obama and others. I am torn because I feel my Democratic brothers and sisters have been ignoring our disenfranchisement of white, blue-collar workers, Trump’s key demographic in winning this race.
While sexism and racism clearly played a bigger part in this election cycle than expected, I’ve always been taught to look at people you disagree with, even on a most fundamental level, and ask yourself: “If I were truly in their shoes, wouldn’t I feel the same way?”
Instead of solutions, I’ve seen blame and buzzwords. In reality, it’s clear that we face many of the same problems: rising health care costs, an unfair job market, and the struggle to have our voices heard and then truly listened to. In the face of a common struggle, I agree that we should unite.
On the other hand, to unite behind the new president our country has just elected would be an intolerable act of apathy. Apathy for the sake of order takes nations down dark paths, of which we have seen at least one poignant example in the past century. In the face of now more real threats than ever to turn this country against its own citizens because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, we have an obligation to resist.
When these threats arise, we have an obligation to take to the streets and to be peacefully and unabashedly disruptive to protest them.
Let us unite behind the pursuit of life, liberty, happiness, and justice for all people. Most of all, let us trust that those with whom we disagree hold that same ideal. Let us unite, but not behind the man who has threatened us and bullied us. If we fail, history is likely to repeat itself.
Michael Kretzschmar is a student at St. Olaf College in Northfield.