Donald Trump, who dealt a stunning political blow to Hillary Clinton and the established order when he was elected the 45th President of the United States on Tuesday, now faces the challenge of governing a divided American electorate after a notoriously bitter campaign.
On election night, Clinton supporters voiced fear and frustration, overwhelmed and bewildered by their candidate’s unexpected loss. Some said they would avoid listening to news the next day; others predicted it would feel like waking up in an unfamiliar country. But on Wednesday, top Democratic and Republican leaders delivered a common message. They compared an unprecedented presidential election to those that came before and called on Americans across the political spectrum to unite in its wake.
“Now, as we do every four years, we have to work to heal the divisions of a long campaign,” Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said. “This needs to be a time of redemption, not a time of recrimination. We all need to rededicate ourselves to making America great and making it a more perfect union.”
“Everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team,” President Barack Obama said. “This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first.”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a liberal leader who was one of Trump’s most outspoken critics during the campaign, offered to “put aside our differences” and work with him to improve the economy. Trump, in his victory speech, praised Clinton for a hard-fought campaign and asked Americans to “bind the wounds of division”—wounds he had so often opened himself.
Those wounds appeared most painful for Clinton supporters gathered at what was supposed to be her victory party in New York City. Before the results came in, they voiced concern about what a Trump victory would mean.
“I fear it’ll just exacerbate and cause more separation between Americans and the world,” said Wendy Siskin, 41. “I don’t think we’ll be in a safe place. I don’t think we’ll be in a loving place.”
Syed Zaidi, 51, said early in the night that he disagreed with Trump’s approach to immigration and viewed his prospective presidency as “very scary.” Holding a sign that read, “Great leaders unite, they do not divide,” atop Clinton’s “Stronger Together” slogan, Zaidi said he hoped both parties would come together no matter who won the election.
“It’s too much hatred, too much hatred in the country,” he said. “The whole world is looking at us as a democratic country in the world, you know? People come from all over the world for the freedom of democracy here.”
Originally posted on Fortune.com