Guest Column: We must be better than the last four years

In 2016, following the election of Donald Trump, I wrote to The Suffolk Times in staunch opposition to him winning the presidency. His campaign was enough to demonstrate his complete disregard for the office and his lack of intent to carry out his duties properly. I opened with “Sorry to the people of the world. I would ask to say sorry for we Americans have subjected all of you to this man who only stands for himself and himself alone.” Strong words for a 15-year-old. 

In 2018, in the lead up to the midterm elections, I wrote again to The Suffolk Times: “Politics have become ​so​ polarized that whatever your opinion is, it’s wrong. An unfortunate reality is that in our modern age a strong opinion seems much more valuable than an informed one.” It would be wrong to suggest Donald Trump is what made the United States so polarized, but he was a symptom that made the disease so much worse. I go on to make the case for why, in 2020, the presidential candidate ought to be one that is a moderate leader, who has a sensible approach that is innovative and addresses why Donald Trump was elected, someone who can serve as “the Great Correction.” 

Finally, most recently, I wrote shortly before the incompetent response to a global pandemic ravaged our country and community. I told of my experience campaigning for presidential candidate Andrew Yang in Iowa. Within that, I tell the story of my experience of meeting the people who supported Donald Trump in 2016, and the need that was present in some voters to make such a choice. Hate the sin, love the sinner.

While it’s hard to show sympathy to Trump supporters, it is important to remember, as I wrote earlier this year, “We all want the same thing, progress towards a better tomorrow, but we just have different ways of getting there.” However challenging it becomes, I try to remember that every time I approach someone’s political opinion I disagree with. 

Across the span of four years, I have been politically active, an advocate for pragmatism, human-centered capitalism, institutionalism, and, most importantly, treating everyone with their deserved decency. Following the 2016 election, when I was still in high school, I recall being berated with comments like “she lost, get over it;” “idiot liberal;” and other forms of hostility. 

We can do better than ridiculous parades and parties and thousands of dollars lost in boat fuel. I know enough to not characterize all “Trumpers” as these people; some, I am sure, are your cousins, grandparents, friends or owners of local businesses. I know many people who supported and still support Donald Trump. Neighbors, relatives, old classmates, local leaders, parents of friends of mine. I have had conversations with Trump voters post-election about their opinions on it. 

To see America heal we need to invest in new ways of growth. Reform of health care; reversing years of systemic social injustices like gerrymandering; disfranchisement of our minority communities; lessening our reliance on fossil fuels; decriminalization of all drugs; and realizing that, especially in an area of the country devastated by the opioid crisis, a drug issue is not a criminal one but one that requires rehabilitation.

In 2020, Donald Trump was handed a decisive loss. He is the only president to have lost the popular vote twice, in 2016 to Hilary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes and now in 2020 to President-elect Joe Biden by almost 5 million. He lost the electoral college, allowed Republican stronghold states Arizona and Georgia go blue, was impeached, and never saw an approval rating of 50%. He is the first incumbent president to lose a second term since George H.W. Bush in 1992. Now, in an attempt to save face he is claiming that there is voter fraud, despite a lack of any evidence. 

Some Republicans, like former president George W. Bush, Utah Senator Mitt Romney and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan have congratulated President-elect Biden, while others like Senators Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy remain silent. The future is not only coming, it’s here. Hopefully, a divided nation will heal.

Mr. Mignone, a Southold native, is a sophomore at Brooklyn College.