While wasting time at the Philadelphia airport on Sunday, my dad and I stumbled into a little shop that usually sold Philly gear, but was currently belly-up in red, white, and blue election paraphernalia. I looked to my left and saw a huge cardboard Hillary Clinton. I looked to my right and saw a huge cardboard Donald Trump. I looked straight ahead and there was an even larger model of Benjamin Franklin, staring down his nose at me as if to say, “Vote for the right person, or else.”
I overcame my initial distaste long enough to wade further into the room, where I saw all kinds of delightful T-shirts bearing messages about Trump, Clinton, and consuming large amounts of alcohol. One shirt in particular caught my eye. It was a parody of “Dumb and Dumber,” with caricatures of Trump and Clinton’s heads ballooning under the words.
As I was leaving, a group of three entered the shop and saw the abovementioned shirt right away. The woman looked at the Dumb and Dumber shirt on the rack and just laughed. “Jah, Dumb and Dumber, that’s right!” she said in a thick German accent. Her companions laughed as well.
My stomach, already sour from the amount of fast food I had consumed that day, flopped over again as I watched these travelers from across the pond laughing at our country and potential leaders. This is socially acceptable now, because we American citizens do the same thing. We have done the same thing nearly every day of campaign season, on social media, the news, and in person.
There is a difference between disrespect and not taking ourselves too seriously. We should be able to laugh at Americans for some of the lighthearted issues we have. However, trouble comes when we begin treating our leaders far worse than we would treat a co-worker or fellow student. We have bullied, insulted, gossiped, and hated them through a multitude of memes, negative comments, and other mediums. None of that will help us in the end. If we don’t respect our leader, who will?
America has lost all respect from the world because we cannot even respect ourselves. What makes me proud to be an American is our consistent history of hard work for the freedom we possess and our unity in the pursuit. The world does not see that in us anymore. They see a country that is tearing itself apart from the inside out. It is time to unify again and realize that, while one man does not represent us all as a country, we still need to show him the respect we show any other American citizen.
I hope that healing bathes the coming year for all of us and teaches us to work together again for life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness…