Well, the people have spoken and, to the chagrin of many, Donald J. Trump is our nation’s next president. But how did we get here? How does a man who has so passionately discriminated against Muslims, gays, women, minorities, the disabled, POW’s and more become president? How does the man who has absolutely no political experience, win against one of the most qualified candidates in the history of the United States?
From the start of his campaign, Donald Trump has thrived on the narrative of being vile, hurtful and divisive. His dismissive rhetoric and blatant lies appealed to the most gross and racist parts of Americans. His campaign successfully painted Hillary Clinton as a she-devil who needed to be locked up with the key thrown away. His surrogates such as Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich have blatantly disregarded the plight of many disadvantaged citizens who are harassed just because of who they worship, what they look like and the color of their skin.
Words cannot even begin to describe how to feel for Hillary Clinton. This woman, who has dedicated the better part of her life to helping others by challenging housing discrimination, famously declaring that “women’s rights are human rights,” and championing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, has been defeated by a man who many consider an unhinged, vengeful egomaniac with no regard for others. What do we tell our daughters? That no matter how hard we work, there will always be a barrier to get ahead? That the glass ceiling is still standing? Do we tell them that no matter how hard they work, they still will have to compete in a world consumed by blatant sexism? A world that still believes that a woman is unfit to run the nation? Even in the face of defeat, Hillary provided hope to millions of young girls in her graceful concession speech, encouraging them to “never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.” But sadly, no matter how progressive America claims to be, we are still miles behind many countries who understand that women are just as capable of being leaders as men.
This historical election is undoubtedly a setback for many progressives who hoped to capitalize on the success that President Obama has made. His many strides, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage, the Paris Agreement regarding climate change and the passing Affordable Care Act, are now at risk of being reversed. We’ve somehow managed to elect a man who believes that global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese. Americans have elected a man who not only believes that women should be punished for getting abortions, but a man whose VP believes that the government should force gays to participate in conversion therapy by directing tax dollars “toward those institutions to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” Not to mention, Vice President Mike Pence also championed an Indiana bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against customers based on their sexual preference. In a nation that champions diversity, acceptance, and equality, how can we continue to allow such vile and backward thinking by those who are elected to lead us? Why have we awarded the highest office in the land to two men who think so little of this country and the people who make it up?
In many ways, this election is an eye-opener. Trump appealed to every fear of the white working class in America and, through their votes, they showed us their true colors regarding their respect for the millions of Americans who will be directly hurt by Trump’s policies. Through his hateful, bigoted words and actions, such as suggesting that an Indiana-born judge was unfit to do his job due to his Mexican heritage, he has successfully convinced white working class voters that the Mexicans are taking their jobs and raping their women, and morally corrupting our country. He has successfully convinced them that he will bring jobs back and defeat terrorists by not only “bombing the hell out of them,” but killing the families of terrorists as well.
How has it come to this? Do we blame James Comey and the FBI for violating the Hatch Act and tanking Hillary’s poll numbers? The issue of Hillary’s emails has unequivocally tainted her campaign, and Comey’s October surprise cast a dark shadow on her prospects of winning office. Or do we blame Trump supporters who, in public, stayed silent on the issue or even vocally supported Hillary, but in private, cast their vote for Trump? Or should we blame the media, who gave Trump nonstop coverage and failed to call him out on his blatant lies and fear mongering? Various news networks who strived to be “fair and balanced” created a false equivalency in a world where Hillary’s emails were just as appalling as Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. As news of Hillary’s emails dominated the airwaves, Trump was simultaneously being accused of child rape, sexual assault, fraud, tax evasion, discrimination and more, and yet his supporters still chose to overlook all of these accusations in favor of emails that have been vindicated by the FBI and Justice Department.
Even fellow members of his party denounced him, calling his words the “textbook definition of racism,” and his actions “a cancer on conservatism.” In the final days of his campaign, Trump’s team decided it would be a good idea to revoke his Twitter privileges. How can we trust a man with the nuclear codes, but not trust him with his own Twitter account? Well Republicans, this is a monster that you’ve created. Your party has so viciously attacked President Obama, continually obstructing his appointments, disrespecting the legitimacy of his office and even encouraging Trump during his racist “birther” rampage that suggested that President Obama was not in fact born in the United States. You failed to stand up to your radical colleagues who yell “you lie” while POTUS is giving a speech, and refused to disavow fellow party member, Senator Mitch McConnell, who vowed to make Obama a “one term president” by opposing every single piece of legislation that he put forward.
Perhaps what is most damning for this nation is the fact that not only did Donald Trump win the office, but Republicans have also gained control of the House and the Senate. While we champion checks and balances, liberals will have a hard time passing any progressive legislation within the next four years. House Speaker Paul Ryan will possibly and successfully pass his budgets that adversely affect Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and many other safety nets that Americans hold so dear. And perhaps the worst news of all for liberals is that Trump will now be in a position to elect a Supreme Court judge, perhaps even more than one, who will enact decisions that will affect us for generations. With a conservative court, rulings such as Citizens United will continue to allow an insane amount of money to roll into the elections. Decisions like Roe vs. Wade are at risk of being overturned, threatening the choice of many women to have safe and legal abortions. What’s most at risk is Obamacare, which Trump has vowed to repeal on the first day. Many Americans who are now afforded healthcare are at risk of it being taken away in favor of something that Trump vaguely describes as “great.”
But who knows, maybe Trump may do as he promises. Maybe he will bring jobs back and truly “Make America Great Again.” But when has it ever been great? Was it when European settlers arrived, engaged in the buying and selling of slaves and committed mass genocide toward Native Americans? Or was it when Jim Crow ruled our nation during a time when blacks lived in fear of being lynched, beaten and even hosed down just for demanding equal rights? Or perhaps was it when Japanese citizens were held in internment camps, when being gay was labeled as a mental illness or when being a woman severely limited your role outside of the house? The truth is, America has never been greater than it is now, but the fear of losing power has encouraged white America to revolt against all the progress we’ve made as a nation. The selection of Trump was done in hopes that he’ll take it back to a time where minorities were docile, subservient and content with their status as second class citizens.
Following this election, there should be no excuse for ignorance. There should be no claims that we live in a “post-racial society” when America has elected a man, fully endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, to lead our nation. But as liberals, it’s time that we recoup. Hillary has won the popular vote, which should provide some hope for our nation. Just as the Republicans mourned in 2008 and 2012, it is now our time to mourn. But let’s not mourn for long. Let’s go back to the drawing board and see where we went wrong. Let us get revved up to participate in politics on the local level and start a new movement from the ground up. Let’s rush to the polls in 2018 to regain control of the Senate and House of Representatives. We should not be defeated. This loss is only a minor setback for a major comeback as we watch America deal with one of its biggest mistakes – nominating the most dangerous president in modern history.