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Women from both sides of political aisle say now is the time to come together – Nagem

Distraught over a lead by Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, Anna Louise Flanagan is embraced by Matthew Traeger as they watch election returns on Tuesday.
Distraught over a lead by Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, Anna Louise Flanagan is embraced by Matthew Traeger as they watch election returns on Tuesday. rwillett@newsobserver.com

Kim Coley has some advice for women who are angry and grieving after Donald Trump’s victory: Don’t get stuck.

Coley, 46, is celebrating President-elect Trump. But eight years ago, she was disappointed when Barack Obama was elected. So she knows a thing or two about feeling like Election Day didn’t go her way.

“We need to choose that we’re not going to carry around this mourning,” said Coley, who lives in Cary. “That was yesterday. We’re going to wash our face, we’re going to be problem-solvers.”

Women across the Triangle are reacting strongly to Trump’s unexpected win over Hillary Clinton – some with horror and some with joy. The divide between can seem miles wide.

Some wonder how they can live in a country where voters elected a man who bragged about inappropriate sexual contact with women. What should they tell their children about Trump’s lewd remarks? His sometimes-mean reactions to people who criticize him?

Others are thrilled by the idea that we’re about to have a president who aligns with their views on foreign policy, trade and other issues. For them, Trump is a man of the people who is capable of bringing real change.

Women I talked to on Thursday – business owners, mothers, political activists, all with wide-ranging ideas – called for unity and understanding. America didn’t elect its first female president on Tuesday. Despite that – or maybe because of that – it’s more important than ever for women to come together.

If we don’t start respecting each other ... it’s just going to get further and further apart until it breaks the system

Rebecca Corey, Cary woman who backed Hillary Clinton

“If we don’t start respecting each other ... it’s just going to get further and further apart until it breaks the system,” said Rebecca Corey, 36, a mother of two boys, 7 and 10.

Corey said she didn’t like either candidate but “as a mom had to go with my gut” and voted for Clinton.

When her son was bullied at school a couple of years ago, Corey said, she and her husband urged him to ignore his tormenters or walk away.

“Here’s this man getting elected who some call a bully,” said Corey, who lives in Cary.

Even before Trump won, Corey said, she and her husband talked to their sons about the importance of being nice if you disagree.

“That’s what this democracy is based on – you have to have respect for others’ opinions,” Corey said.

Sue Googe’s opinions have changed. Born in China, she worked for manufacturing companies in her native country, living and eating at the factory because she couldn’t afford anything else.

When she came to America at age 26, she saw small towns suffering because jobs had moved overseas.

After becoming a U.S. citizen, she proudly cast her ballot as an unaffiliated voter for Obama in 2008.

“He energized me, he made me feel hope and change,” Googe, 44, said.

Four years later, Obama didn’t get her vote. “He didn’t deliver” on promises, she said.

Googe, who lives in Cary and ran an unsuccessful campaign this year for the 4th Congressional District seat, voted for Trump. She hopes he can make America the world’s top manufacturer.

She was disappointed, though, with his comments about women.

“People are not perfect,” she said.

Finding empathy

A News & Observer photographer took a picture Tuesday night of Anna Louise Flanagan, 18, who was crying tears of anguish at the Raleigh Marriott City Center as Trump’s victory came into focus.

In the photo, her right hand is covering her mouth as a friend embraces her. The moment captures what so many women felt that night – shock, anger, fear.

On Thursday, Flanagan, an N.C. State University freshman from New Bern who supported Clinton, said “now is not the time for women to sit down defeated.”

Now is the time, she said, for all women to find common ground. There’s work to be done to protect our rights.

Flanagan said she and other Clinton supporters should not hate those who voted Trump into office. Empathy might be the key to bridging the divide.

We need to slow the train down and take time for those who were wounded along the way, disappointed along the way.

Kim Coley, Cary woman who backed Donald Trump

“I feel for the alienated people in the country who feel like the government left them behind,” Flanagan said.

Coley, the Trump supporter, said she’s not gloating. The mother of two agrees that women need to come together.

She wants America to stop passing on debt to future generations, and she wants stronger policies on border control.

She calls the momentum that brought her candidate to victory the “Trump train.”

“We need to slow the train down and take time for those who were wounded along the way, disappointed along the way,” Coley said.

She said she respected Obama’s presidency, and she hopes Clinton supporters will respect Trump’s. She said she will “let the dust settle” for a while before talking about the election with her fellow volunteers at her son’s school, some of whom supported Clinton.

“I’m really waiting for them to see, ‘Wait a minute, we’re all in this together,’ ” she said.

In the meantime: Don’t get stuck.

Sarah Nagem: 919-829-4635, @sarah_nagem

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