The World Series ripped through Wrigleyville in a very physical way. There was elation roaring through the streets. Complete strangers came together to celebrate. There was teasing of rival teams’ fans, both on the streets, and a bit more vigorously, on social media. That’s as far as it went. Throughout all the teasing, there was always a subtle thread of respect and understanding of those allegiant to their respective teams. There are vast amounts of reasons why people support a particular team over another, and those reasons are respected almost universally in the sports world. There is an understanding that no matter what team you align yourself with, you have your reasons — no matter how superfluous they seem. Support for a team isn’t conflated with support for the actions or views of all the players.
The “election series” just ended and the difference couldn’t have been starker. Hate, blame and condescension was displayed all over my Facebook news feed and the media. The schism between red and blue opened a little further, driven by idealistic elitism and smugness. There’s a pervasive and damning attitude in the American political paradigm characterized by the belief that, “If someone isn’t completely with us, they’re completely against us and everything we stand for.”
Sixty million people, on either side of the aisle, don’t vote for a candidate based completely because of their rhetoric or even their policies. Many voters base their vote on a single issue most important to them and their beliefs. During any election, people are always worried things they consider to be intrinsic rights will be taken away. The point is we, as a country, are bigger than this behavior. It is possible to respect people’s core beliefs and disagree in a non-toxic way. Many institutions of higher education prove just that.
National proved to be a haven, free from the buffeting winds of discontent. It wasn’t because this was a single candidate school. It was because those that attend this school are aware of the fact that people vote their beliefs. Students knew that a vote for Hillary didn’t mean a vote for continued negligence with classified information or some of her unfortunate campaign rhetoric, and that a vote for Trump is not synonymous support for his damning campaign rhetoric. The support and understanding within the student body disintegrated any illusion that votes were cast out of bigotry, elitism, or xenophobia. It was the microcosm of what America should be.