On Nov. 8, one of the closest elections in United States history took place. That day, I woke up knowing history would be made by the time I went to bed that night. I paid attention to the election coverage throughout the day; it was exciting, interesting and thrilling to watch commentators debate each candidate’s path to 270 electoral votes.

But despite the end-of-the-world comments being spread before and even after the election, I still had class on Wednesday. The University of Michigan did not advise us to prepare for America’s doomsday; I did not call my parents to say our final good-byes; nor did I see people storming the grocery stores to stock up on supplies in preparation for the world’s inevitable doom.

The world still turns, and we are no longer Trump supporters versus Clinton supporters. We have been and always will be Americans who have everyday lives separate from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Members of both camps are still a part of the 1 percent and students still have to work, study and make sure we do our laundry regularly. To assume one candidate’s success or failure — even the relative success or failure in a campaign that produces the next president — determines our country’s ability to bounce back from our worst conditions and fall from our best is a ridiculous simplification of the complexity of our country.

If real change in our society is the goal, do not look upward at the people in office. Lasting change does not occur from the top down. There was a reason President Obama told our campus last Monday, “The most important office in a democracy is not president, it’s not senator, not congressman, mayor; it is the office of citizen. The most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘we.’ We the people.”

The United States is a nation not of our president, but of our people. Together we drive the direction our country heads in, and while the president usually guides us, we should not remain ignorant of the power we have within our individual choices.

This is a call to everyone, regardless of what circles you bubbled in on your ballot. Open your eyes, and look for ways to initiate change around you instead of putting the responsibility on the shoulders of one person when we are a nation of 300 million.

“Donald Trump is going to be our president,” Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech. “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. We don’t just respect that, we cherish it.”

When we refuse to recognize the president-elect, we are disrespecting what it means to be a democratic republic. Those who supported Clinton and may be afraid of a Trump presidency are allowed to be upset; half of the voter population disagreed with the outcome of this election. But purposefully refusing to accept the result is unproductive and will not change who is the 45th president.

I recognize my identity in life can make these comments appear to be a result of white privilege, and I will not deny I was lucky to be born into a family that could support itself and have relatively few hardships. My white privilege combined with the horrible events that have occurred recently, like one incident where a student was verbally assaulted and pushed down a hill because of her religion and the increase in hate crimes across our nation, may even discourage some from considering this viewpoint. However, do not allow these terrible instances to ruin your faith in this community. It is up to us to be the good in spite of the hate, and that can only be accomplished when we respect those who are different than us.

Some people may not want Donald Trump to be our president, but for every person against his presidency, there is roughly one person who voted for him and is for it. We cannot forget our fellow Americans or disregard their views simply because they chose Trump over Clinton. If we are to develop an environment in which everyone feels their concerns are respected, we cannot use political views to divide us.

America is moving forward whether or not we choose to recognize it. We cannot go back to yesterday, and asking for Donald Trump to fail benefits no one. As life continues, look to the people surrounding you for support; put your faith in the United States that is of the people and for the people, because that is the one we are living in.

Alexis Megdanoff is an LSA freshman. 

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