Opinion Letters from the Editors

Respecting the process, opposing the outcome

Respect for process does not preclude objections to policy mandate

Americans voted in a legitimate election Tuesday, and the result was that Donald J. Trump will serve as the 45th president of the United States.

We were shocked and disappointed by this outcome. Yesterday, we saw that many of our peers fear that their dignity and way of life will come under attack during Trump’s time in office.

For many of us, it is difficult to accept that the outcome of this process led to an outcome we believe is so truly harmful.

We weren’t the only ones surprised by the election. The New York Times suggested Tuesday morning that Hillary Clinton would win with probability 85 percent.

We understood this high probability to mean that our fellow citizens wished to live in an America that’s open, outward-facing, welcoming, and that affords dignity to everyone, and that they would reject Trump’s vision of a bigoted, fearful America that shirks its role as a leader on global issues.

Now that the election has been decided, we think some might be tempted to allow their respect for the process to realign their view of the outcome. The process is something we respect since it prescribes a method by which a diverse country can come to a conclusion after citizens hear arguments in the free marketplace of ideas.

And in this regard, the system worked on Tuesday. The algorithm provided an opportunity for Americans to express their view on who ought to be president. And that should be celebrated and respected even now.

But we would like to suggest that this respect for the process does not compel you to support the substantive outcome, namely that Donald J. Trump is going to become president, or even to view that outcome neutrally. Trump will be proposing legislation that will have concrete effect on you and your fellow citizens. Respecting the legitimacy of the process does not require complacency with those policy consequences.

In short, you are justified if you feel alarmed that a sufficient number of Americans chose Trump’s vision to make him president. It’s likely that many voted for Trump for reasons besides his most offensive positions. But it seems that most of his voters must have at least overlooked his more bigoted attitudes.

Democracy does not end with the election of the president — the fight over good policy is supposed to continue. By continuing that fight, you are not subverting democracy, but are furthering it.