After the election results poured in, half the country wept. The election of Donald Trump meant several things: the possible reversal of the progress that the Obama administration had made, and a reinforcement of an already unsafe environment in America for anyone who isn't white, cisgender, male, Christian, or who was born here. As political arguments on Facebook ensued and riots and parades happened, the divide between the two main political parties was even further deepened. It brought out the ugliness in so many people I know and love and contributed to the pain I was feeling.
One thing I noticed is how many Trump supporters expressed their pain in being called "racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes, etc." They claimed that they don't agree with everything Trump had said about Muslims, women, Mexicans, etc., but in the end, he was a better candidate than Hillary Clinton. While Clinton was by no means a perfect candidate, at the same time, she didn't create an extremely hostile environment in the midst of the election season. The fact that Trump's racism, sexism and xenophobia was not seen as a deal breaker to so many Americans is alarming. And before anyone reading this gets defensive ("I'm not a racist! I have black friends! I dated a Hispanic person once! Just because I voted for Trump doesn't make me racist!"), let me explain.
I give people benefit of the doubt. I know that not all Trump supporters hold values that could be considered racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, or otherwise socially retrograde. I know that many of them are simply fed up with the political establishment and demand change. But it is absolutely imperative to understand here that impact outweighs intent. Just because you do not personally hold these beliefs does not mean you can't reinforce certain systems of oppression that align with said beliefs. If you voted for Trump, it means that you decided that a presidential campaign ran on blatant racism and xenophobia was not a concern for you. It means that the lives of anyone who is an immigrant, Muslim, a woman, LGBTQ+, black, or disabled are worth putting at stake for the sake of political incorrectness. It doesn't make you inherently racist, but the fact that you put all of these things behind you and chose to align yourself with a political candidate who has said all of these horrible things and more, is something for which you need to hold yourself responsible.
Of course, the situation of impact outweighing intent isn't strictly limited to the presidential election. It can be applied to things like microagressions, racist Halloween costumes, harmful jokes, and many other things. But it is especially important to consider how your actions in this election will impact others. Regardless of why you voted for Trump, your vote will no doubt play a role in a tumultuous four years for immigrants, women, LGBTQ+ people, Muslims, and disabled individuals.