The talk of the town this week, and especially the Columbia campus, has been, of course, Donald Trump's recent victory in the presidential race. Campus - and indeed the nation -just can't seem to shut up about it, and everywhere from the subway to the dining halls to the lecture hall hums with a single focus. Many fear a Trump presidency and the reactionary social change it could bring, but much of that fear has turned to anger, and certainly worrying in the form of misdirected anger abounds here at Columbia.
Much of the blame for the outcome of the election from Columbia students has fallen upon the white working class. I've overheard the East Coast and California - the predominantly blue states - described as the only parts of the United States with "any intelligence left", and that the white working class "should all just die". Any sarcasm aside, that is not only problematic, but a very Columbian idea to hold. Overall, I've found the Columbia community an overwhelmingly non-elitist one, but occasionally, a certain brand of elitism rears it's ugly head, which is completely understandable in not only such a highly-ranked institution, but also an Ivy League school, where many of its students could not be counted among the working class. The derision and immediate disregard of those considered less intelligent sometimes, unfortunately, occurs. Not only does there seem to be a lack of understanding of why Americans would reasonably vote for Donald Trump - any further debate about that aside - but an overwhelming sense of blame for the 'other' - the non-coastal population of red states that led to a Trump victory.
The impact and debate of the election is a rich topic that's been well-beaten to death, but ultimately, and more specifically, the perceived failing of the system can not be attributed to this or any group, but due to the American people as a whole and the realities of our system's politics. The seething anger swimming up through the city is completely understandable, but finding one, non-present group to hate and blame is precisely what fuels populism and pre-fascist ideology. Instead of assigning blame to those perceived by some Columbians as lesser, an attempt should be made to understand the political, social, and economic climate that lead people into voting for Donald Trump as the best candidate for America. In the continuing political debate, we should not be asking "How could you let this happen?", but rather "Why did this happen?", and reflect on how we, as a community, should react.