On November 8th, 2016, America elected Donald J. Trump to serve as our 45th president. It was a historic moment for multiple reasons, depending on how one looks at Trump’s rise to political prominence within a short window of two years. Trump, a Washington outsider with little to no background in politics and foreign policy, rejected by many of the most revered members of the RNC, embodies a larger populist movement that marks these first two decades of the 21st century. Across geopolitical divisions, from France’s Marine Le Pen to the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, populist leaders who are often effective communicators reach deep into disaffected populations of their countries and rally supporters behind controversial issues such as immigration and social disorder. To borrow the words of CNN political analyst Van Jones, Trump’s election is also a clear sign of “white-lash” against eight years of progressive agenda and policies put in place by a black president. The socioeconomic and racial divide in the country has never been clearer. However, this article does not aim to delve deep into the causes and effects of Trump’s election––for each of these issues deserve much greater detail and analysis than what could be captured in one piece of writing––but rather how we as Americans should carry ourselves from this point onward.
As a woman and an Asian immigrant, I am uncomfortable with a Trump presidency. His hurtful, fear-mongering rhetoric and sheer lack of substance in campaign speeches has deeply wounded a nation that has proudly taken in people of all color, ethnicity, and creed since its inception. Trump openly insults women for their looks, mocks people with disability with no remorse, and refuses to apologize for insulting a Muslim Gold Star family for their religion. I am not comfortable with having someone who feels the need to assert his masculinity by violating women’s bodies, “grabbing her by her [p..y]” I am not comfortable with having a president who is most likely going to appoint Supreme Court justices that will meddle with women’s right to decide what to do with their bodies. I am not comfortable with having a president who, instead of coming up with a well-formulated and evidence-supported response, turns to ad hominem attacks as a defense mechanism every time his assertions are challenged. No, I am uncomfortable with all that Trump represents and the direction America will be heading under a Trump presidency.
However, waking today to watch Hillary Clinton’s concession speech I am hit by an epiphany. America has decided who our next president will be. The election results have already made this a reality. Rejecting the peaceful transition of power through proclamations like “Trump is not my president” will only sow more seeds of discord into the very-evident cracks in our national canvas. Regardless of my beliefs, I reject the kind of post-election rhetoric that tells people to “unfriend me if you voted Trump” because this kind of language is dangerous.
When we only surround ourselves with voices that we agree with, we are subjecting ourselves to intellectual homogenization, doing ourselves an injustice by rejecting the other half of America that didn’t share the same views with us. Keep in mind that these are human beings who voted for Trump, regardless of their individual motivations. It is careless for us to reduce people into misinformed bigots because people vote the way the vote for a reason. We can bring into discussion the issue of privilege, of Trump supporters not having to worry about the basic right to marriage and to have control over their own bodies, but everybody has their own priorities and agendas. It is impossible for us to impose our priorities on other people and making them see eye-to-eye on issues that matter to us. And although I do not agree with their reasons for voting, I will defend their right to vote, however they want to and for whomever they want to vote.
I will continue the fight against everything that threatens the safety of those I care about. I will argue with them and try to show them my reasoning, but at the end of the day I will try to remember why I liked them in the very first place––their character, their compassion, their intellect, and the love they have for me. I understand my privilege as I write this article, not having to fear for my safety and the destruction of my identity. That’s why from here after we have to rally together, for the sake of our friends, our neighbors, and all those whose voices are on the verge of being silenced.
As Hillary sums it up so elegantly:
“We must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. And we don’t just respect that, we cherish it [...]
Because you know, I believe we are stronger together and we will go forward together. And you should never, ever regret fighting for that. My friends, let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.”