For a number of reasons, it’s hard for me to look at the outcome of these elections and feel okay about them.
I’m not going to polish my name or reputation as a columnist by regurgitating tired old lines about us all coming together. It is a fact that there are many who are profoundly hurt by this election, and who are struggling to figure out their place in this new political climate. Yet still, Americans are in this together whether we like it or not, and it is worth talking about two of the many issues we can tackle together, regardless of what party we belong to or who we voted for. It is still not a foolish endeavor to hope we could work together as one people.
Though it is not very sexy to talk about, spending on our crumbling infrastructure is one of the most popular solutions for stimulating our economy.
Gallup reported in March 2016 that 75 percent of Americans supported spending more federal money on infrastructure. Luckily, this popular idea might also be a beneficial one for the economy. Researchers at the College of William & Mary released a study that said in the short-run, “a dollar spent on infrastructure construction produces roughly double the initial spending in ultimate economic output.”
Think Progress published an article going further, saying that just $1.3 billion in added infrastructure spending in 2015 would have added nearly 30,000 new jobs and $2 billion in economic growth, while reducing our deficit. If we’re going to spend so much time arguing with each other over these election results, I propose we spend an equal amount of time talking about how we can create good union jobs in infrastructure.
Another policy area we could work together on is gun safety. Though media and national political leaders like to cast gun safety as a lightning rod for national differences, the American people are actually not that far apart on the issue — at least in parts.
CNN reported in a June 2016 poll (keeping in mind this came after the Orlando gay nightclub massacre) that 92 percent of Americans support expanded background checks and that a smaller — but still meaningful — majority (54 percent) support tougher measures such as banning assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition clips.
This is an issue we should all want to seize upon together. Guns kill nearly 34,000 Americans every year, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. To set this in comparison, nearly 33,000 deaths occurred in over 30,000 fatal motor-vehicle crashes in 2014, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
About 12 million people visit Starbucks every day, and if just one in 350 of them got involved in gun-safety policy in honor of those who will die because of guns this year, we could make a real difference.
The impulse to want to work together and intentionally work on the issues that bridge the divides between us is a commonly held sentiment. Carlos Calderon, an athlete and former classmate in Aurora Public Schools, said “coming together through our common interests plays a vital role, now more than ever. Our goal now should not be to undo the past, but rather focus on how to better shape the future of this country while breaking down the social barriers that divide its citizens.”
Building on that, Anit Koirala, a college student and active community member from my neighborhood in northern Aurora, was happy to share his thoughts on this election with me. His words are the essence of what I’ve tried to say in this entire story.
“Unity is diversity, and diversity is power. That’s what we represent as a nation. Let’s not spread hate, but peace and love. Let’s not raise guns, but raise our voices, voices of equality. Like President Obama said, ‘Whatever happens, the sun will rise in the morning,’ so there is always hope.”