If we want the country to be great again, it starts with us
An editorial looking at the 2016 election and what we do next
Protests erupt around the country with citizens all over not recognizing Donald Trump as their president-elect. Reports of hate crimes rise as white nationalists celebrate. The increasing polarization of news and voters leads some people to say that if their friends or family voted for the other candidate, they’re now sworn enemies.
This has been one of the most divisive political campaigns ever.
To the shock of the polls, the media and many Americans, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Electoral College votes, to become the president-elect.
We didn’t expect this.
Many members of our staff were shocked at the results. Some were ashamed, others afraid. Trump’s insulting and undermining rhetoric towards minorities, women and LGBT citizens has not gone unnoticed.
We are aware being president doesn’t give Trump total power. We know that his presidency probably won’t lead to fascism or the dissolution of the American government. But we are aware that his election is indicative of an unsure future.
There’s not much we can do about that. We could move to Canada, but we’ve heard it’s incredibly hard to get a visa, we’re still not sure if the website is back up and boy, it’s cold up there. There’s also the almost negligible chance that the Electoral College will decide Trump should not be president.
Given that this has never happened in the history of the United States, or America’s existence, we’re doubtful. This is what the next four years looks like, and everyone regardless of political leaning needs to accept that.
There has been speculation as to how Trump won, but the conversation about the cause isn’t going to change the effect.
Whether through polling creating complacency, the email scandal right before the election, the inciting of racial tensions and anti-immigrant rhetoric or third party candidates such as Gary Johnson taking votes in key states, Trump won.
Instead of trying to sway the results of the election that already happened, it’s time to hold Trump more accountable for his actions. We can’t accept lies, like his claim that he actually won the popular vote despite it losing it by two million.
It is time for us, the future of this country, to become involved in the political process. We can’t complain if we don’t act.
While it’s important to not normalize the fact that Trump gained votes in part by eliciting base fears about multiculturalism and immigration in America, not everyone who voted for Trump is racist, sexist and homophobic. Many are working class people responding to hardship. Someone came along and promised to make their America great again, and they set their hopes on that promise.
Hating Trump or Clinton supporters or those who didn’t vote is not the way to change people’s minds. Arguments attacking people on a personal level only lead to hurt feelings, not changed opinions.
Instead, we need to find solutions to fix the deep rift this election has exposed. While the candidate someone chose does matter, it’s not going to determine their character for the rest of their life.
One day in November doesn’t make someone a villain.
We need to be productive, not hateful. Donate to the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for Advancement of Colored People, the Trevor Project and other organizations devoted to the marginalized. Protest if Trump enacts a harmful policy.
Better yet, let’s not repeat this election cycle. Both candidates had historically low presidential candidate approval ratings. We need to work everyday to assure people that the rights of all citizens matter.
Whatever this election has meant, it’s time to get involved in the political process and treat the presidential election like we should: as one part of a much larger, much more significant political system.
And not just the presidential election; midterm elections have historically pitiful voter turnout. Let’s change that. If we want America to be everything it can be, we have to look forward.
America can be great, but it needs to start with us.