Friday, November 11, 2016

The 2016 Presidential Election: Yeah, That Really Just Happened

It's been three days since Election Day and I still can't believe Donald Trump actually won the presidency. During the past year and a half of madness that was his campaign, I devoured any news covering him and the other candidates. I was fascinated, yes, but I just assumed that there'd be no way that such an ignorant loose cannon would get very far. But then the other candidates started falling off and a year after launching his campaign stating that Mexico was sending us its drugs, crime, and rapists, he received the Republican nomination. Surprised me for sure, but then I thought that after three dismal debates against Hillary Clinton, his bumbling idiocy would be so clear to anyone left doubting if he'd be a good president or not. "But look at him!" I'd tell my boyfriend, who was cringing too hard to look at the screen. "Everyone is going to see how terrible he is! This is perfect!"

But no, his supporters kept cheering on louder and no matter how many scandals came to light, pussy he'd grabbed, or derogatory comments he spewed, he found a following of "deplorables" eager to carry their savior straight to the White House. He'd been an entertaining hot mess to watch, but as election night wore on and all that red started covering the map, the dread and frightening realization finally set in: Donald Trump, a man who's taken to Twitter to insult everyone and your moms, was going to be the next president of the United States of America. Up until that final moment, I just could not, would not believe that such a hateful person could win out over all.

And yet he did and that fact hit me like a ton of bricks at 3:30am when the terror finally caught up with me and I started sobbing in bed. It makes me sad and terrified not just because of the direction this country will take under his leadership, but because of how many agreed with and voted for someone who's demonized entire ethnic groups with stereotypes and lies. His campaign has fanned the flames of fear in people and given them the permission to act on that ignorance. Since Trump was named as the president elect, news of confrontations, hate crimes, and bigotry against members of Black, Hispanic, and Muslim communities has been trickling in.

Like others in my social circles, I realize that I am so spoiled by living in such a culturally diverse, liberal bubble. The idea that a racist, sexist demagogue with no clue as to how to run an ethical business let alone America could ever hold the highest office in the country is just preposterous to us. But turns out there's a huge chunk of Americans, namely working-class white Americans from rural areas, who believe differently and who've grown resentful of how our government has neglected them. Trump's promise to "Make America Great Again" by deporting certain people, increasing racial profiling, building walls, bringing back their coal-mining jobs, and instituting discriminatory policies based on religious beliefs resounded with them. And that's the part that really scares me. Because while most of us are hoping that he'll only be able to do so much during his time in office, it's a fact that our neighbors around the country voted for him despite a platform built on hatred and ignorance. Their worries and racist inclinations might have been kept at bay before, but once Trump came in and laughed at the very idea of political correctness, they saw someone who was finally speaking their language. So what if the message was full of insensitivity and lies? Every other politician is full of broken promises anyway. At least here we had a government outsider ready to destroy the party with a sledgehammer, someone who understood them and wasn't afraid to speak his mind. To them, this was someone who could snatch America back from the evil clutches of liberals and minorities. As Van Jones said, "This was a whitelash." Never mind that Trump is just as elitist as those they feel have shunned them in the past.

When I attended Syracuse University in 2005, my friend and I attended an Ann Coulter event. She and I were curious as to what it'd be like because we knew her to be a conservative pundit with nothing but vitriol running through her veins. I couldn't tell you what on Earth she was there to talk about because all that's been cemented in my brain are a) the insults she hurled at a young woman who dared to challenge her prejudiced viewpoints during the Q&A portion of the evening and b) how scary it was to be surrounded by an audience that cheered her on and lavished her with praise. Who were these people and why were there so many of them? Who raised them? Why were they so mean?

And now, come January 20th, we're going to have a bonafide bully leading our country and representing us around the world. "Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together," Trump said in his victory speech. "To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people." Oh, really? Now?! Now you want to "come together as one united people" after the divisive venom you spit in our faces? Please, Mr. Soon-to-Be President, how exactly do you propose we heal from the wounds you slashed into us? Because I think you'll soon find that while mere words can launch a crowd into action, it'll take more than just words to soothe the unrest it has caused.

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