Accept this loss.
Respect the system we have, because it worked the way it was supposed to and it gave America a new president — Donald Trump.
If you’re unhappy with that outcome, as I and many millions of Americans are, go ahead and be unhappy. Or be disgusted. Shed tears. Be afraid.
And then move forward.
If you opposed Trump, the reaction to his triumph over both Hillary Clinton and the norms of modern-day politics should not be an angry swipe, but a steady, measured pushback.
The reaction should not be to run or to turn away, but to embrace those now fearful of what comes next and stand with them and fight to make sure that Trump’s darkest impulses are kept in check.
I go into a Trump presidency as a straight white man — the only fear I should have is that I’m a journalist facing a commander in chief who has painted the press as the enemy. Big deal.
The people I fear for — the people my heart aches for — are entire groups of my fellow Americans who were demonized throughout Trump’s vitriolic campaign.
What are Muslim families thinking today?
How do Mexican immigrants feel? What does Trump’s win say about their standing in this country.
What about women who saw his sexism writ large and now see him given the highest office in the land?
What about children who have seen Trump’s bullying? What fear does this create in their growing minds, and how do we convince them that such behavior shouldn’t lead to success?
People with disabilities see a man who mocks them embraced by tens of millions and wonder where respect for them will come from.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people see a new president backed by staunchly anti-LGBT groups and politicians.
I’m not going to abandon those people, nor am I going to simply assume the worst of President-elect Trump.
Throughout his campaign he seemed, to many, to be a disaster in the making. That doesn’t mean he can’t be made better.
As soon as Barack Obama was elected president, Republicans unleashed angry swipes, and they never relented. They chose to question his legitimacy, to fight him at every turn, to do nothing.
That was wrong then, and it would be wrong for Democrats now to choose the same tack. Obama famously said, “Elections have consequences.”
He was right. Republicans did their best to ignore that, to the detriment of our country. I’d argue their recalcitrance gave rise to Trump himself.
That’s not a governing approach worth mimicking. We’re better than that.
That doesn’t mean Trump proceeds unchecked or uncriticized. Nothing of the sort.
But it means people of good conscience seek out ways to make our government work, accept that compromise is going to be necessary and fight like hell to protect the most vulnerable among us.
I wrote in a column before the election that in an age when facts are meaningless, there is one fact we must believe: We are all Americans.
I didn’t want to see a Trump presidency. And I’m worried about what lies ahead.
But he is our president, and I’ll respect that, calling him out when he’s wrong and giving him credit when he’s right.
To cower right now or to lash out in anger is not the answer to an outcome we don’t like. There are people who need us, and we all need each other, no matter how split down the middle we feel.
So congratulations, Mr. Trump. I hope, with all my heart, that you rise above the rhetoric that got you here and take this precious country — and all the people who make it special — and guide it well.
But know this: There are millions upon millions who will stand with those who fear you, and push back steadily, and relentlessly, and without fear, against any harm you seek to bring.
We are all Americans. We need to remember that — and so do you, Mr. Trump.
Rex Huppke is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Readers may email him at [email protected]. Column courtesy of Associated Press.