The strongest despair I’ve heard about this election has come from high school and college students. I don’t know if this will really help anyone, and I hope it’s not patronizing. But just in case it helps:
George W. Bush was elected during my freshman year of college. For the next 8 years — all of college, my first job, and the first two years of Tumblr — we suffered through that horrific administration. It was half of my adult life so far.
It felt hopeless. It felt like we’d never have a functional government again. It felt like the damage would be irreparable. It felt like the good side lost and would never win again.
But then, in 2008, the good side won, propelled into victory by Americans’ motivation after those regressive and destructive years, and we had our turn for 8 years. It wasn’t perfect, and Obama didn’t (and couldn’t) fix everything Bush broke. But we did fix most of it, and made a lot of progress in major new areas as well. Overall, we came out way ahead.
And we’ll do it again, because when you average it out over time, progress tends to only go in one direction: people being healthier, better educated, and better to each other. We have ups and downs, and we don’t end every year better than the last, but in the long run, we come out ahead.
Most people in the world are good, and want to be good to each other. Whether they vote that way or not, far more Americans believe in progressive, liberal, inclusive views than regressive, aggressive, conservative ones.
Young people know this better than anyone, because young people are overwhelmingly liberal, even more than older people. That’s not because you’re inexperienced — it’s because you’re right. Your generation is, by definition, further ahead on the march of progress than everyone else. It is literally you who cause the progress as older people die and you rise into power.
This is going to be difficult for everyone — some much more than others. It may seem like it’ll last forever, especially if you weren’t an adult during the Bush years.
But it won’t.
In the meantime, do everything you can to help, support, and stand up for the millions of people whose country just let them down, many of whom live in homes and communities that have just become unwelcoming or unsafe.
We’ll get our chance to repair the damage and move forward again, and you’ll bring us there.
Hang in there.