Let’s talk about Trump, student to student
For many of us at GW, the last few days have been tumultuous and frightening, to say the least. When Donald J. Trump — the demagogue whose entire campaign ran off the racism, xenophobia, and misogyny so deeply ingrained in the fabric of this country — won the presidency on Tuesday, both incredulity and terror sunk in. It’s been difficult to find the language to express these feelings, but many students have taken to social media just to try.
Like so many of you, we too have been grappling with the outcome of this election. And taking seriously The Rival’s identity as “the official student voice,” we’ve been working to verbalize our feelings and contextualize them in a way that’s useful for you through our writing. But sans the usual formatting and elaborate framing, we want to take a moment to say that we too are afraid, and open up a conversation about what the election results mean to each of us personally.
Let’s talk about our fears, starting with Tuesday night at approximately 2 a.m.
There’s no way in hell I’m going anywhere.
That was the first thought in my mind when I understood that Trump would be our next president. I was with friends and my girlfriend, ready to celebrate Hillary’s victory and rush to the White House. Instead, I watched their horrified faces as reality sank in. It was so strange the way it happened — the reality of a Trump presidency hit each person at a different moment. One by one, my friends fell completely silent. There were tears in their eyes but they wouldn’t look away from the screen. Like me, they were going through lists in their heads: things Trump has said and done, changes he wants to make, what will happen, what the fuck this means.
Right then, I changed my life plans. As a standard Elliott School kid, I wanted to work abroad as a member of the foreign service. I was ready to graduate, pack my bags, and move to Central America to do development work. Now, there’s no way in hell I’m going anywhere. I will dedicate my career to dealing with the international repercussions of Trump’s national policies, specifically with regard to immigrants and refugees. Overnight, I became a student activist. Upon graduating, I will become a career activist.
The results of this election obviously shook me to my core because we never really considered this as even a possibility. Having spent my entire political life under an Obama presidency, I’d come to believe so deeply in the last eight years’ sort of “arc of the moral universe bending toward justice” optimism that it took hours to even process the implications upon my future and the future of my country that the Trump presidency could have. It was watching an innocuous video of the Hamilton cast singing at the White House when I finally started to break down, not only because the next White House will never be so inclusive and so graceful, but because there’s a good chance it will be openly hostile to minorities, to dissent, and even to art, that it might be a long time until our culture and country is as bright and hopeful a place.
I’m determined to go into the next four years with an open mind. However, the possibility that so many hard-won successes in LGBT rights, in environmental policy, in all parts of the welfare state, and in an inclusive and hopeful spirit in our public life — all of which I’d started to take for granted –might be taken away is truly heartbreaking. I believe in the inherent goodness of our country and the boundless possibility it represents, but now I see that progress may not be linear, that rights may need to be fought for, and that the long “arc of the moral universe” does not bend toward justice on its own.
My reaction to the Trump win was astonishment. While all political theories pointed to a Trump victory I ignored all of these signs. Surrounded by such a liberal community it seemed ridiculous that Hillary Clinton could lose and that across the country people thought the same way we did. Looking back, after having a few days to come to terms with the results, I realize that our nation is so deeply divided it was inevitable. I was so excited to see Hillary break that highest glass ceiling, sadly that did not happen. I am disheartened to see that rhetoric of hate and bigotry has dominated. It is frightening and upsetting to understand that a man who has bullied others, had allegations of sexual assault and fraud made against him, and has made racist and sexist comments is becoming our president. It was difficult to watch my friends and peers cry at the results and it is frightening to see the mass demonstrations consuming the nation.
The democratic process is a beautiful thing to see in action and we should not be discouraged. Hopefully, young girls and women have been inspired and soon enough we will have more women in politics. Emotions have been high people have mourned Hillary’s loss and cheered at the Republican dominance but through all this I hope that we can all learn from this experience and grow and implement positive changes together because we are stronger together and together we can make America great.
We should fear Donald Trump. He came to the White House because people were scared. The Trump campaign capitalizes on the lack of understanding many Americans have about their country and the world, it capitalized on the fear of difference. By voting for Trump, we are looking at four years of division, racism, sexism, and hatred. Trump wants to implement protectionist policies, while simultaneously letting Wall Street run wild, in an economic mayhem that will topple markets everywhere. Trump wants to put more people in prison, get rid of regulations on industries harmful to the environment, and get rid of NAFTA. These are all signs of the start of an isolationist, police states.
Many Americans have deep faith in the institutions of this country to create a check and balance system against The Donald. But Trump is not a normal politician, and we need to make sure he is aware that a large portion of the population is not happy, that we can we heard.
When I realized Trump was going to win, I felt like the air had been knocked out of my chest and the floor ripped out from under me. I know it may seem melodramatic, but this is a man who has attacked almost every group of Americans, and I fall in several of those groups. A man won on hate and fear, and it pains me that millions of Americans were either able to support that or look past it. I have to hope that we pull through and rebuild into a strong nation, because a man as volatile, inexperienced and uneducated as Trump is not going to lead our country forward, but I have to believe the damage can be fixed. I am sad, angry and afraid. Somehow, I am also hopeful that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that we can reach it.
The opinions in this article are the opinions of their respective authors alone. They do not necessarily represent the opinion of The Rival GW or other Rival publications.
Originally published at gw.therival.news by Shanni Alon & Emily Milakovic on 11.14.16.
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