Walking across my college campus this morning, even in the early hours when only a few early birds are out, the aura is unsettling. It’s uncomfortable. The normally cheerful and welcoming barista who takes my daily order could barely muster a small smile. Another friend of mine talked about how her relatives who had survived the Holocaust are probably rolling in their graves.
When you see others’ reactions about last night’s election results, they seem to be overly dramatic. Politically savvy voices tell me that not much can change in four years, not without a fight. Any wall we’d try to build would eventually be torn down. Any problems that seem to be surfacing have always been here, a bubbling volcano waiting to erupt. Healthcare will still have to somehow cover all Americans. We won’t lose all our rights without the people loudly protesting.
The underlying fact here is that presidential elections should not result in fear. They should not offer counseling services the next day for struggling people in the depths of dark, suicidal places. Any sign of Trump support has others unfollowing, unfriending, and blocking them. So many of us are assuming the worse, but after months’ worth of exposure to the winning candidate’s true character, how can we not?
Admittedly, I’m white. My family is middle class. I’m a natural-born American. I don’t identify in the LGBTQ community. Despite all of this, the thought of having a leader who I cannot find an ounce of respect for, who is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, who has openly discriminated people of color, disabled people, trans-gender people, the entire Muslim community, and LGBTQ people, is downright scary. He’s a man who has used illegal means to avoid paying taxes, a reality TV star who picked up politics as a side hobby, who can barely manage a civilized conversation with anybody who disagrees with him. Heck, not even four years ago he talked about how global warming was a lie made up by the Chinese.
As a woman, having a president who has sexually assaulted many women and said “they weren’t attractive enough” for him to do that is especially frightening. He is someone who has used plenty of words I would care not to repeat regarding women and the lack of respect he has for them. We have news and informative platforms specifically collecting and tracking every sexist sentence out of that man’s lips. With whatever decisions he might make for the Supreme Court, I might not be able to have the right to a safe, legal abortion. My health and my rights are potentially at stake.
So he can’t do anything too drastic while in office. But the emotions he is provoking in people are. The precedent he is setting shows how easily we let hatred slip by and into our leadership. A man facing rape and sexual assault accusations has little effect on his career. Openly disrespecting others is okay. Causing violence is okay. Degrading people is okay. Sure, it’s always been happening to some degree, but now we’re empowering these behaviors. We’re supporting them and electing them to office.
It is appalling enough that a more-than-qualified candidate was not chosen. She spent her life in politics, working and helping others. She had her fair share of flaws, but for the sake of progress, I knew she would at least maintain the status quo we’ve established. After years of work, she loses to an ignorant reality TV star with zero political experience. We could have made history. It’s 2016 and we have yet to elect a woman to the Oval Office. Instead, the history we’ve made isn’t worth celebrating. Fifteen thousand people voted for a dead gorilla over an actual candidate. If third-party voters chose a side last night, the results would have been different. Instead, we are left with someone who has no logical platform, skills, dignity, or composure.
I cannot help but empathize with the people not going to school or work today in fear of what they might encounter. This isn’t like electing Bush, where he too had an entirely Republican Congress. My social media has flooded with messages of a wide range of emotions, the strict divisions between us building walls on their own. The results have people asking others to explain why their gay, trans, female, black, Latino/a, and Muslim friends don’t matter. All I can hope for is that we surround ourselves with love and support, especially in these upcoming days.
I want to remain hopeful. That’s a challenge in of itself. Knowing our courage and tenacity, I am confident that people aren’t going down without a fight. But the future just got a tad more frightening. I don’t want to see us taking these two steps forward only to be pushed back even further. If this election teaches us anything, it’s that we have a lot of work left to do. A cringe-worthy president shouldn’t have to hinder us from doing everything we can to move forward. I don’t expect it to be pretty. For the sake of our country and every single person within its borders, we have to at least try.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie