The Idea of America in the Face of Trauma
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

The Idea of America in the Face of Trauma

Will we continue to go low? Or will we go high, like we promised?

The Idea of America in the Face of Trauma

On November 9th, we felt an earthquake.

We at Purchase, a blue pinprick on an ultimately red plot, watched together as something we worked so hard to prevent came to fruition. I, myself, got no sleep that night, and as I wandered my campus in a haze, I heard too many screams of anguish from my peers. I saw my queer friends outside their dorms, crying into their phones, panicking about the prospect of living under someone who doesn't care about them for the next four years. I saw my black and latino friends, holding tight onto each other. I saw women of all backgrounds burying their heads into friends' shoulders, sobbing and afraid.

Back home, in Oneonta, I got a text from a friend, an Indian-American. "I just realized what will happen to me today," he said. People said my uncle was bin Laden when I was eleven... now I have to walk onto a college campus... It's pretty good here, but the city itself? I'm only doing things in the daylight, I think." A friend from home, who campaigned for Zephyr Teachout, called me shortly after, sobbing. "I'm so scared. What are we going to do now?"

There is, of course, no easy answer. Donald Trump, a man who openly and aggressively campaigned for racism, misogyny, xenophobia and sexual assault, is going to be elected the forty-fifth President of the United States of America on January 19th. His Vice President, Mike Pence, is a man who does not believe in the science of climate change or the basic human rights of women and LGBTQI people, and is an open advocate for both smoking and gay conversion therapy. This is who we've asked to represent us on the world's stage: President Pussygrabber.

While half the country is celebrating this win, the other half are terrified. The number of calls received by the National Suicide Prevention Hotline increased by 140 percent. At least two transgendered people have already committed suicide. . We are screaming from our blue pinprick into the night, and all we hear are echoes.

Walking around my campus that morning was the most surreal experience of my young life. I suddenly found myself promised to an unsure future, I saw my friends and their ways of life threatened by our own countrymen. Every step I took felt like I was walking further and further away from my real country. What had been my home for nearly twenty years was now uncharted territory. For the first time in my life, as a straight, white male, I feel helpless.

I will never fully understand how other people who aren't as privileged as I am are feeling right now. I got some sense of it, however, when I organized an open discussion with my peers the next day. A large crowd of us met in front of the giant clock that stands in the middle of the mall, and we cried and screamed and shook in the rain. We allowed ourselves these feelings of fear, of anger, of betrayal. We told stories of struggle, we shared our fear of going back home to face our loved ones who voted for their new president. But we never lost our humanity. Not everyone always agreed, but the whole event was civil, patient, and respectful. In an age of violence and intimidation such as this, we took part in true political discourse.

Not that true political discourse matters anymore, anyway. Hillary Clinton had nearly 200,000 more votes than Donald Trump, and yet the electoral college granted Trump the presidency, anyway. There are major problems with our system, and we continue to leave them in disrepair. That says two things about us; the people of this country have great faith in our government, but the government has no faith in its people.

And so, the original idea of America - a country welcome to the customs and traditions of any, where all freedoms are held in the highest regard, where that long fabled Dream is still reachable - has deflated. The slate has been erased, the plaque at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty eroded in an acid rain. Now we, and I say this collectively, are left with a conundrum: In the face of such a trauma, in which half of the country is affected in a dangerous way, what is the New American Idea?

Are we going to be seen as the Nation of Shock Therapy? Perhaps the Nation of Discarded Consent, or the Nation of the Lynch Ritual? Maybe the Nation of Dusty Air and Dirty Water? "Give me your toxic, your rich, Your singular masters," our monuments will read, "Yearning to reign free."

Or are we going to let out the poison? Will we scream and cry and rage into the night, and then set off towards the higher path in the morning? Will we turn the weapon of democracy against those who have taken advantage of it? Will those like me use their privilege to remind our representatives that they represent everyone?

"When they go low, we go high" is what we must print on our banners. It is, in fact, the most significant slogan we could possibly use in this regard. America was swallowed whole by the earthquake last night, when all we heard were screams. And now, our voices ringing with the hope that was promised, we must soar.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

TikTok Made Me Buy It: Flawless's Skincare Fridge

I bought and tested one of TikTok's popular products so you don't have to.


I spend a lot of time on TikTok and I never know whether the products I see are worth it or not, especially when I'm looking at the price. For Christmas, my aunt got me a gift card to Ulta. I didn't know what to buy. I have way too many palettes and lipsticks. I have my essentials. What else could I need? Then it hit me that I saw a lot of people these past few months showing off their skincare fridges. So, the second I thought of it I went on the Ulta app and bought it. So, here are my thoughts.

Keep Reading... Show less

37 Cute And Unique Pinterest Board Titles

Let's be real, the hardest part about Pinterest is thinking of a cute title for your board.


I don't know about anyone else but I have recently become re-obsessed with Pinterest. Like, I am spending a stupid amount of time on Pinterest daily now. While I have been binging Pinterest I have found that I love making cute and aesthetic boards but it is SO hard to come up with a name to match it. So, I scoured the internet and my brain for you. Happy pinning!

Keep Reading... Show less

This Is What Type Of Person You Are Based On Your Favorite Cereal

Your cereal preference reveals more than you think.

Photo by Nyana Stoica on Unsplash

Whether you eat cereal for breakfast or a late-night snack, you probably have a favorite. Little did you know that what you prefer says a lot about your personality.

Keep Reading... Show less
Alexis Hoffman

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we all know that cutting out social interaction has taken its toll.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Asked Instagram How 2020 Was, And Maybe It Wasn't The Worst Year Ever

2020 is a year to remember but it's not as bad as we made it out to be.


It's finally 2021 and we're honestly all just happy that 2020 is over. I decided to ask my Instagram followers how they felt about 2020 and the results were a little more mixed up than expected.

Keep Reading... Show less

Ever since I watched "How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days," I've been a major Matthew McConaughey fan. I've seen most of his movies, and I definitely got way too excited when he finally made an Instagram! So when he announced he would be releasing a memoir titled "Greenlights," I knew I absolutely had to get my hands on this book. And so did the rest of the world, as the book began to flood social media.

Truthfully, I would much rather read a fiction book and dive into another world than read a nonfiction book - even if it is one of my favorite celebrities. But I had a feeling this book wouldn't disappoint or bore.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Armie Hammer Scandal Discourse Is Kink Shaming And Harming Actual Victims

The rumors surrounding Armie Hammer has resulted in some very toxic and harmful discourse.


Sex is something that occupies a very significant place in our lives. Even asexual people can have an active sex life. With the various types of people that comprise this world, it obviously results in various sexual interests. And unconventional people can engage in some pretty unconventional sex practices. Even the most conventional people on the surface might surprise us with their sexual fantasies.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments