Our nation is not defined by polling data, electoral maps, political buzzwords or even a presidency.
Rather, our nation is an idea, one that was forged by the spirit of revolution, pressed by the anguish of civil war, and reshaped by conflict and hardship throughout its history. It is a work in progress. It is not, however, something that can be easily broken, nor can our hope be easily extinguished.
This does not mean we are the ideal nation. Our country is deeply, historically flawed. There are many injustices and ugly truths that are too often ignored or disregarded in mainstream discourse. The Pioneer Log views it as the duty of a newspaper to elucidate and challenge these problems; to give voice to the people and stories that are so often silenced. Across the United States, there is a lack of understanding for the pain that many experience in their everyday lives.
For some, it is hard to understand why so many Americans voted for Donald Trump and are likely to continue to support his administration. Over the course of his candidacy, the President-elect has drawn and maintained support from seemingly unlikely places, exceeding expectations across the country. Although to the majority of Lewis & Clark students, a Trump presidency has seemed unfathomable, it is imperative that the community make concrete efforts to move forward rather than point fingers and shake heads in disbelief. In order to do so, empathy and self-awareness are critical: while we cannot tolerate bigotry, we must strive to better understand and acknowledge the many factors that contributed to this outcome. While we are disappointed and disillusioned, we must take comfort in one another, and we must remain resolute.
While we may sometimes feel that we are isolated and incapable of making an impact, there is always potential for progress. We have the opportunity to understand, address and learn from all of the many problems our nation faces.
It is not discord that defines us, but unity. Our success as a nation is contingent on the survival of different cultures, religions, languages and ideas. This is what it means to be American — to embody the spirit of democracy and freedom for all, and to understand that this project is unending.
As the next four years unfold, we cannot let political punditry, fear-mongering and apathy rob us of our forward-looking spirit. We are Americans, and we see the world not just as it is, but for what it can be. To paraphrase philosopher John Stuart Mill, sometimes it takes seeing what is wrong in order to know what is right.