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The 2016 election has come and gone, and it has left us with a surprising plot twist: Donald Trump is the President-Elect. With a sweeping victory, Republicans retained control in both houses of Congress and claimed the executive branch. Despite this historic success, though, I cannot help but look back on the election with a little frustration. I looked at the two candidates countless times over the course of the general election season thinking, “is this the best we can do?” It truly was a race to the bottom. Between the criminal-like activity of Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump’s erratic behavior, it is hard to believe these were the two people that Americans thought could best represent our nation. While the election has come to a close, it does not change the fact that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were terribly poor representatives for this country and its values. Reflecting on the race, I wonder if America’s integrity is at stake. If so, how do we come out stronger after the madness that was the 2016 election?

I question the status of America’s integrity for two reasons, both coincidentally bearing the same names as our candidates in the general election. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have given the American people legitimate reason to impugn their characters. Secretary Clinton was under not one, but two FBI investigations during her candidacy. Furthermore, in a stark contradiction to her “female empowerment” narrative, she has proved herself to be a women’s advocate only when it advances her agenda. She silenced women who accused her husband of sexual misconduct, and even defended a child rapist she knew to be guilty in her days as a lawyer.

Donald Trump has not left the Republican Party in much cleaner hands. His belligerence during the primaries and general election was unlike anything we have ever seen in a presidential race, and he demonstrates little understanding on policy. He also has been accused of assaulting several women. Given these examples of each candidate’s character on display, it is safe to conclude that the integrity of our nation, which is partially vested in the dignity required of the presidency, is in jeopardy following the race.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton evidence the fact that we need to thoroughly understand the character of candidates before nominating and electing them. It really speaks to the significance of the primaries. Neglecting to vote in the primaries has helped bring us to this point of discontent in our President-Elect and his former opponent. An overwhelming majority chose to not vote during primary season this year. And of those who decided to vote, a mere fourteen percent of eligible Americans cast their ballots for either Trump or Clinton. Voting is about electing leaders who will represent us well. If Americans want accurate representation, if we want our candidates to mirror the integrity of this nation, we need to make our voices heard and come out to vote for people who actually speak for us.

It is not only necessary to realize the mistakes we made during this race, but to understand how the country begins to rebuild post-election. The rebuilding process demands a level of unification, but it does not remove the need for Americans to settle for more. We can fight for better representation for our future, but we should do it together. The bitter election is over, a winner has been chosen. Come January 20th, 2017, Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. Upsetting? For many Americans, maybe. Reality? For all Americans, yes. Rioting in the streets will not change the outcome and neither will cries of foul play. The nation voted, and Donald Trump prevailed. We are now faced with the decision to either let divisive rhetoric continue to permeate our political atmosphere and fracture the nation, or realize that the people have spoken and agree on what unites us.

What this all boils down to is: where do we go from here? Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, as most can agree, were poor choices of candidates. Their questionable characters partially tainted the integrity of this nation, and the lack of voter turnout at the polls during primary season signifies that little was done to change it. Now that the election has come to a close, there is nothing to do except reunite under the pretense that we will collectively work to avoid a situation akin to the one we have endured this year. While 2016 may not have been what we anticipated, it does not mean it has to happen again in 2020. I challenge Americans to remember that elections are so important to the future of our country, and if we want accurate representation we need to fight for it.

Liana I.
FFL Cabinet
Liana is a follower of Christ and current communications student at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She enjoys writing, reading, and serving others.

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