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The American Election - The Phoenix Rises

Ranjani Saigal

Never have I witnessed such an emotional response to a presidential campaign.  Whether you are on the side that won the popular vote, (now labeled as the losing side) or the one that won the electoral vote (now labeled as the winning side), the election results certainly brought forth a lot of uncertainty. How do we move forward from here? There is excitement and fear, perceived opportunities and challenges. 

As divided as the US is, so also was the South Asian community. For many the crude behavior of Trump was a shock. “I raise my children to never behave or speak like the candidate Trump.  How can I support him to lead the nation? How can I vote for a man who made use of every loophole to not pay a penny in tax? ” asked some.  â€œShe is incredibly corrupt. I can never support crooked Hillary,” said others.  â€œTrump will ensure that the Muslim terrorists are no longer are powerful and curb illegal immigration,” said some. “Hillary is a great leader, a capable woman who will lead us to greatness. She will bring people together I look forward to her breaking the glass ceiling” said others. 

Beyond all the election rhetoric and conversations on the candidates, for me this election season was a big learning experience.  I learnt how devastated a lot of mid-west has been in the past 8-10 years. Lack of education and skill training has left many in their 50s and 60s out with very little hope. The problem was arguably created by a new technology age, which left low skilled workers out in the cold.  It was a chilling feeling to note that people in their 50s who worked hard all their lives do not have a sense of financial security.

The breaking of the moral and social fabric of the nation was also apparent. Trump’s rhetoric on women and his lack of a spiritual core seemed to have no impact on large part of the electorate indicating a lack of value for a social fabric and spirituality.  Lack of family support and spiritual support is very hard on people, particularly the poor for there are not too many places one can look to seek hope and support during difficult time. 

Arguably, having a black president gave the confidence to many blacks to speak out about racial issues.  Black lives matter emerged as a strong movement and put the race issue in the limelight.  I learned a lot about their issues around law and order during this election cycle. 

We heard about the opioid crisis.  We saw a Gold Star Muslim father speak passionately about his child losing his life defending America.  We had conversations on sexism. It was strange to see the impact of the access Hollywood tape. One of the people on the tape lost his job and the other ascended to the highest office in the US.  So it is hard to know if we have moved forward or back on this issue.
Despite the ugly campaign, there were many great moments. It was wonderful feeling to live in a country where we could openly disagree on any topic. It was also a good feeling to see the peaceful acceptance of the results. The concession speech by Hillary was truly remarkable. Watching her graciously offer her congratulations to her opponent and showing people how to handle failure without losing one's dignity was a historical moment for me. 

Where to from here? First I would like to offer prayers for our President elect.  May he burn his campaign persona and rhetoric to ashes and rise as a beautiful Phoenix to lead this country in a positive direction. His victory speech gave me hope. I found a picture of a Tilak being put on Trump's forehead. I hope the Tilak will open his inner eye. May he be blessed with good intentions and be given the power to remove the suffering of many. May his wife succeed in preventing cyberbullying so never again do we have to feel fear and anxiety as we did seeing the tweets from candidate Trump. May God fill the Trumps with kindness and compassion so that they can help not only those who put them into power but all of America.

As Indian Americans, I hope we all can work to understand the suffering of people around us and use our talent and resources to try to do our part in reducing the suffering. May we not squander our talents to criticize others and focus on negativity but work to help those in need. We are Americans and only we have the power to make America great. I pray that God will grant us strength to make that happen. 

Mangalam Shubam – May all auspicious and good things happen to USA.

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