By Torch Editorial Board
Our generation is particularly dedicated to enacting meaningful social and economic change. We fully recognize that what we want won’t happen overnight, but the devastating blow the United States brought on election night may very well erase all of the progress we have made.
Donald Trump, a man with a myriad of troubling ideas and morals, will be the 45th president of the United States. He has no political experience. Aside from his blatantly discriminatory proposed policies, he’ll take office as one of the most unqualified presidents in the history of the United States.
The businessman turned politician represents an America that we don’t like. He is openly racist, sexist and xenophobic. His proposals plan to increase the size of the military, build a wall across the border of Mexico and the U.S. and his wishes to ban Muslims from the country are more than just alarming.
He is a man that has openly condoned sexual assault by claiming that he can do whatever he wants to women because he is rich and famous. He will sit in the Oval Office on January 20, 2017 having done all of these things and it seems as though many of the people in America endorse all of it.
But we do not.
Donald Trump may be the elected leader of this country for the next four years, but that does not mean we have to agree to everything he says and does. The future brings uncertainty, but it will only be a failure if we quit now.
It is time to unite under our collective despair, whilst still not attacking one another. Hating those who voted for this man won’t help in this fight, but earnestly attempting to teach them our perspectives through open dialogue can. Some voted for Trump based on his policies alone, not his hurtful rhetoric. But there is no excuse. Like it or not, a vote for Trump was an endorsement of all that he said. Privilege can allow some to be blind to the very real implications that may come from this election once Trump’s administration gets underway.
This loss, as Hillary Clinton put it in her concession speech, is absolutely painful to those who have supported everything that America has worked towards over the Obama administration.
But, America has been through worse before. This is a country that survived slavery, a civil war and an incredibly hard fight for civil rights. Our good days outnumber the bad and the hate that won is in the heart of the few who do not truly represent who we are. Love trumps hate and it will always prevail. Democracy is not always supposed to be easy and it is meant to make you fight for what you want. When you truly love your country, you fight to make it the best place it can be despite how hard it may be. Giving up is the easy route to take, but we urge that no one takes it. As heartbroken as many of us may be, nothing changes from mere dissatisfaction. It is wholly necessary that we do all that is within our rights to make this a country we can be proud of, and we are more than capable of doing so.
Our friends who are most hurt by this new development in our democracy also need our love right now. There is no room for bystanders in this country. When we see acts of discrimination take place, we need to stand up for them. We can not turn the other cheek while the underrepresented people in America get taken advantage of, discriminated against, and receive hate speech. We must be allies and a voice for those people and stand against those who hate. Those of us with privilege can help those without it by listening and offering support and while still letting the marginalized speak for themselves.
While we can wallow in pity for the next four years and rant to our friends about it, not all hope is lost. This utter despondence we are feeling can be used productively if we refuse to fall into the dark abyss of defeat.
Though the presidential election is a disappointment, it is important to remember that there were little wins for progressivism in this election.
Multiple women of color were elected to Congress, which is a remarkable feat that deserves recognition and praise.
Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat of Thai descent, was elected as senator for Illinois, defeating Republican incumbent Mark Kirk.
Likewise, Kamala Harris, an African-American and Indian-American woman was also elected to the Senate. She will be the first Indian-American to serve in the Senate in the history of the United States.
Catherine Cortez Masto will be the first Latina senator ever, as she was elected to replace Harry Reid in Nevada.
These small wins lead to the belief that America is more accepting of others than it may seem. And if we can continue on the path of giving a voice to the underrepresented in Congress, then we truly can begin to make real progress.
The 2018 midterm election season will quickly be upon us. Voter turnout in the midterms is historically low, but we can change that and get officials who actually represent us. You can sign up to canvass for candidates you’re passionate about, work for their campaigns, simply inform people about them and do a lot more than just vote in the next election. In 2020, we can get someone into the White House that we want, but we can make these small efforts in the meantime.
In addition, there are hundreds of organizations in Chicago and beyond that need our help. Planned Parenthood is likely to face devastating blows under Trump. It is likely that all of the environmental causes we care so deeply about will be ignored or further harmed by the policies that will be enacted. The Affordable Care Act is likely to be repealed, but we can fight until the last day for it to stay.
The will be setbacks to progressive hopes. But we are all ready to join in on the fight against what happened in this country on Nov. 8, 2016. This won’t be an easy battle but we absolutely need to do it.
Changing the dialogue surrounding elections and political stances is vital for progress to further happen in the institutions. In the current political climate, the dialogue can be the difference between having a political conversation and feeling persecuted for your political stance. We find ourself in debates and then unfriending people from Facebook, because they’re wrong. That’s the flaw with the dialogue in politics. If neither of us agree with each other and say “you’re wrong,” then everybody loses and starts to become negative towards each other.
We are more than the red, blue or independent party we identify with that divides us during and after the elections. As a country, the American people need to come together to create a strong foundation if we’re going to get through the next four years. This political election has left America divided, anxious and afraid not only of its future but of each other.
While we disagree with virtually everything that Trump has said, we hope for the sake of this country that he will not be as bad as he seems. It is unlikely that he’ll enact the forward thinking policies our generation believes in, but the system of checks and balances gives us hope that drastic change will not come through. Though the government is now fully led by Republicans, there are still many within Trump’s own party that strongly dislike everything he stands for. This signals that there may be trouble brewing for the Trump administration if they want to get their more radical ideas passed.
It’s not going to be easy for Trump to do what he promised and the opposition he will face from Congress will be staunch on both sides of the aisle. Thus, there is a tiny amount of room for us to breathe when thinking about what the next four years will entail.
But still, it is likely going to get worse before it gets better. And those upset and deeply dedicated to this cause are the only people that can stop this country from fully becoming what we do not want it to be.
President Obama said that the sun would rise regardless of the outcome of the election. And he was right. The world will continue to spin even if we are led by a government with which we vehemently disagree with. But it’s up to us to make the best of it.