Millennial Voices

The 2016 Election Result – A Wake Up Call For Everyone

When Trump received Hillary’s call to concede defeat, it wasn’t just a call to graciously step down from the ring; it was a wake-up call for all of America.

Within minutes of the news release, international news agencies immediately poured out opinions on the shocking news; even acclaimed economists like Paul Krugman took to the pen, contemplating the choice made by his fellow people.

Let’s admit it; America didn’t make the wisest decision in history.

Yet, crying over spilt milk isn’t going to help. We have to move on and not wallow in dramatic despair, or mock the Americans for their decision.

It’s time for America to wake up, to think deeper about the roots that led to this election result.

Upon receiving the news, my first reaction was: OMG – Is this for real? Like many others around the world, this was not the result I expected. Yet, a calm-headed senior colleague of mine reminded me that the more pertinent issue lay with the fundamental beliefs of Americans. Even educated, young white Americans who clearly understood the brevity of their choice still went for a representative speaking out clearly against free trade, immigration and diversity.

Why is this so?

After years of promoting racial equality, why do election results still reflect a choice opposing that ideal? Why is a great nation who was built by immigrant ancestors now opposing immigrants?

Unfortunately, as “free” as America may seem to be, ironically, there is very little freedom for America to explore beyond its own boundaries. Many Americans lack the opportunity to get out of their country, to meet people from diverse backgrounds, missing out on the chance to experience a variety of thought and ideas. This is particularly so for those from more rural, far-flung areas, where the majority of such states chose to swing red.

On my first visit to the States recently, I still get people responding with “ni hao” when I tell them I’m from Singapore. When I tell them I speak English as a first language, they react almost incredulously.

Despite being the beacon of hope for many across history, Americans show very little hope in their own nation. Upon speaking to a young American teenager on my visit to Vegas, he told me he was not going to vote, because it “didn’t matter anyway”, and both candidates weren’t his ideal picks. We laughed when I urged him to do so, because at least he could opt for the “the lesser evil”. It made my heart break a little when my Uber drivers spoke passionately about their dreams of going abroad, but were limited by visa and passport difficulties; it takes months to get a passport processed, and many Americans don’t have one.

The lack of opportunity has resulted in constraints, unfortunately limiting Americans’ view of the world. As such, the eventual results are not surprising.

So where do we go from here?

Instead of criticizing the new President, or outwardly showing our disapproval, it’s time to set aside all differences and to move on to make America whole again.

As idealistic as it seems, perhaps the new U.S. President is right.

It is time for America to rebuild its inner fences–not to keep out people, but to keep out drugs, pornography and vices. It is time for America to rebuild infrastructure, to connect people to each other and to new ideas. It is time for America to become great again; this sharp jolt will shake and stir people to re-think their nation, paving the way forward.

For the rest of us, let us not make disparaging and condescending comments about the elections. Let us not put pictures of our passports on social media, welcoming Americans to migrate over.

Rather, as America has been gracious with us in the past, it is our turn to be gracious to them. Encourage them to move forward from here, make efforts to work with the new government, and learn from this episode, to ensure stability on our own political grounds. There is so much more to this world when we help each other up from our falls.

This is a wake-up call not just for the US, but for everyone.

Let’s answer the call together.

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