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Writing Hope: Journalistic Responses to the Election

Ever since the election outcome was finally brought to light the world has been inundated with media coverage, opinion pieces and impassioned social media posts from both sides of the aisle. As Stephen Colbert points out in a recent video, Americans now seem more politically charged than ever before as people people have begun blogging about politics and voicing their opinions much more frequently than in years past. This trend can be attributed to the polarizing nature of this election as well as widespread shock at its outcome which is reinforced by increasing access to and utilization of various forms of social media.

I believe there are pros and cons to this growing trend; it is certainly beneficial that the public at large is improving its political awareness and that general readership is broadening, but many argue that individuals are using social media as a means of expressing their political views to a degree that borders on excessive. In terms of my own personal response to the election, I am extremely disheartened and emotional about its outcome. My natural response to times of national crisis and division is to read as much of the available information as possible. I feel that reading journalistic pieces penned by others helps me think critically about my own reactions and opinions, so I’ve spent much of this week scouring through all that CNN, the New York Times, The Guardian, the Washington Post and others have to offer.

I’ve read some truly incredible pieces that I felt emanated my own election experience. So rather than add another opinion piece to the current swirl of political rhetoric, I hope to highlight some of the most impressive and thought-provoking pieces I’ve read over the course this week.

The New York Times: “Her Loss”

This piece was penned by Lindy West from The Guardian. Her piece effectively captures the sense of profound defeat experienced not only by Hillary Clinton but by her female supporters across the nation. She leaves her readers with the crucial message,  “We have been weathering this hurricane wall of doubt and violence for so long…We have the right woman to find. We have local elections in a year. The fact that we lost doesn’t make us wrong; the fact that they don’t believe in us doesn’t make us disappear.”

The New Yorker: “An American Tragedy”

This article written by editor David Remnick encompasses the mournful and grief-ridden response to the election experienced by much of the nation. He frames the election of Trump as “a crushing blow to the spirit”, words that undoubtedly ring true for many American people. He discusses the growing uncertainty surrounding all that Trump’s presidency will entail, urging readers not to lose their sense of hope and strength in the face of fear. Remnick writes, “It is all a dismal picture…but despair is no answer. To combat authoritarianism, to call out lies, to struggle honorably and fiercely in the name of American ideals – that is what is left to do. That is all there is to do.”

Vox: “A letter to America from Leslie Knope, regarding Donald Trump”

This letter of encouragement drafted by a writer from the TV show Parks and Recreation conveys an uplifting message about the need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and redefin your sense of purpose after experiencing defeat. This piece pairs Leslie Knope’s lighthearted humor with a very sincere discussion of what America needs to do going forward. This writer powerfully states, “He is the present, sadly, but he is not the future. You are the future. Your strength is a million times his. Your power is a billion times his. We will acknowledge this result, but we will not accept it. We will overcome it. We will defeat it. Now find your team, and get to work.”

What I like most about these articles is that they center around a necessary call to action, emphasizing that now is not the time to give in to complacency and surrender to an overwhelming sense of defeat. Now is a time to act – to vocalize your most committed beliefs and stand up for those who are inflicted by fear. Electing a president with a blatant disregard for essential human rights does not mean we must now accept this as national fact – rather, we need to remain strong in our values and work for them so that the unconscionable words and actions that took place during this election season are not internalized by generations to come.

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Katie Anne

Notre Dame

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