On November 8, 2016, Hillary Rodham Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump. Today, November 9, is one of the worst days of my life. Secretary Clinton, would have been the first female president, and she would have been a great one. Trump ran a campaign built on racism, xenophobia, and the notion that our country had crumbled from the castle on a hill that it once was (when the majority was white.)

I took this semester off from my senior year of school- left my friends and my classes and Kweder and Magic Carpet behind to take on the worthiest of causes. I wasn’t just working against Trump. I was working, with gusto, for Hillary. A career public servant, Hillary Clinton dedicated her life to improving the lives of children, families, and the underrepresented. Few moments in my life top listening to Hillary defend a woman’s right to choose during the third presidential debate. Throughout this campaign, she never backed down from a fight- or a bully. 

I have never experienced the heartbreak I feel today. I alternate between weeping, feeling angry, and thinking about the future—and I’m really scared. Throughout election night, I was bombarded with texts from family and friends, asking for any information or comfort I could offer—and I had nothing. But I have been on the inside of the incredible operation that was the Clinton campaign for the past three months, and have basically thought of nothing else—so I do want to offer some words now. (and please note—these are my own opinions and observations, they don’t necessarily reflect  those of the Clinton campaign.)

We can’t ignore the results of the election. I don’t mean accepting the results—my candidate has graciously done that. But beyond that, we need to recognize that millions of Americans, particularly poor and middle class white Americans, voted for Donald Trump. These people have been recognized in the national media for embracing Trump's racist and sexist rhetoric, but they ultimately voted for his message of change. Many of these people have been left behind in the new economies and societies that make up America, and now it is our responsibility to welcome them with open arms. We can't complain and call them backwards; we need to work to improve their schools, give them jobs befitting the environmental realities of 2016, and help their communities combat very real problems like opioid addiction.

But of course, we now face a very scary reality. The legislative and executive branches are both Republican, and they have the power to undo much of Barack Obama's progress. They will get to  appoint at least one justice to the Supreme Court. If this scares you- the idea of overturning Roe v. Wade, defunding Planned Parenthood, blocking any attempt at gun safety reform, or deporting millions of immigrants who moved here for a better life-- do something. Nothing should be a better motivator than this to take a minute to think about what you want your contribution to the world to be. Maybe you'll volunteer on the midterm campaigns. Maybe you'll have a career in public service. Maybe you'll promise yourself to teach your children about tolerance and acceptance. Whatever you do, don't let this election stay on your mind only as long as it stays on front pages.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, remember the value of a vote. Voting for a third party candidate who has virtually no chance of winning a US election is a privilege reserved for those who won't be affected by the president- not those whose rights, whose very existence in this country, depends on the president. If you find yourself ever again considering voting for the third party, vote not for yourself,  but for someone who needs it more. If you didn't vote this year, shame on you. Don't talk to me (or anyone) about this election, and don't ever do that again. Abstaining is lazy, selfish, and will only allow for more Trumps to become our president. If you aren't registered to vote- go do it right now.

We may be down, but we sure as hell aren't out. Today, as President Obama implored us, let's root for Donald Trump's successful presidency. Tomorrow we start prepping for the midterms.


Comments

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.