Disclaimer: I’m sure a lot of people will write this article off as some uneducated college student trying to find a way to promote her personal opinion, but I’m hoping to capture the sentiment of many Americans. Yes, I will be contributing some of my personal views so if I unintentionally offend you in any way, I ask for your forgiveness.
The United States of America had a very big decision to make on Nov. 8, 2016. We were to decide who would be the face of our country for the next four years. That evening, as the votes were being counted, I was surrounded by my friends and peers, our gazes shifting back and forth from the public monitor streaming the election and our own computer screens with result predictions pulled up. Around 12:30 a.m, Trump was leading in the remaining states counting votes, and I left the watch party, dejected and frustrated. What had seemingly started out as a joke was becoming a reality.
The first presidential election I could vote in was not only one of the most polarizing, but also one of the most troubling. There were strong feelings against both candidates, with many people declaring this election came down to a choice between the lesser of two evils. So as Election Night wore on, the two candidates were neck-in-neck, and the future didn’t seem as certain as I had hoped.
This is not me voicing my complaints about our new president-elect. Rather, this is my genuine fear of what is yet to come. As I had mentioned in a previous article, a Trump supporter had approached me once asking where I was from. After I responded with my hometown in Tennessee, he pressed me further, “No, where are you really from?” as if my answer that I was an American didn’t suffice.
The definition of what an “American” is varies depending on whom you ask. I believe there is no ideal America, as we are a melting pot of numerous cultures and identities. I was born and raised in Tennessee, and grew up reciting the Pledge of Allegiance by heart, just like many of my peers with lighter skin colors than mine. But this election only validated that I had become a foreigner in my own country.
Not only do I no longer feel like I belong, but I am also fearful of what is to come. Many new reports say Trump has the capabilities to be a good president, so long as he completely disregards the opinions and comments he advocated during his campaign. Even then, the fact that he said those hurtful racist and sexist comments to begin with reflects poorly on his character, and has the effect to empower others to voice those similar ideas.
Among this turmoil, the only way to recover is to move on. It is imperative that we patch back together this nation that was torn apart during the election. We should keep an open mind and become more aware of our politics, as we have seen that they are always important — not just once every four years.
So, to Trump and Clinton and third-party supporters alike: I ask that you remember that we are all Americans regardless of how we look, and that we treat each other with utmost respect.