Campus felt different on Wednesday. The unthinkable, unprecedented, incomprehensible happened. On Friday January 17, in the year 2017, Donald J. Trump will be inducted as our president. Not just their president, the faceless others I denounced and dismissed countless times, but our president.
“Who the fuck even voted for him?” asked a friend. I thought for a minute. I could only think of around ten people I knew, if that. Three out of the four states I’ve lived in went to Trump on Tuesday. Only ten people, how is that possible?
Maybe social media had something to do with our collective shock. Facebook and other platforms became ideological echo chambers, where peers posted glowing endorsements of Hilary and contempt towards Trump. We patted each other on the backs for our views, and in doing so, made those views even more ingrained and entrenched. We posted jubilantly about Trump’s latest scandals, and were quick to share the latest John Oliver piece “completely eviscerating” his campaign. It didn’t, no amount of well-intentioned posts or takedown videos could stop him. They were comforting, but didn’t help. Throughout this process, very little actual discourse took place. I personally refused to talk politics with anyone voting for the man, as doing so made me feel ill. This was my mistake, and the mistake of countless others. Within our peer groups, we did little but reinforce the validity of our ideas and assert our own moral superiority. Democracy should be a dialogue, an open exchange of ideas. This election was anything but. Conservatives dismissed Liberals as oversensitive and hypocritical while Liberals (myself included) dismissed Conservatives as, to put it lightly, bigots.
I don’t know where to go from here. It’s incredibly heartening to see people vent about the election. But most Trump voters won’t see those posts advocating love and inclusion. I wonder what their feeds look like, probably a coronation. More than ever it feels like there are two Americas, one red bubble and one blue bubble, both blissfully unaware of the other’s existence.
I’m scared; scared for people of color, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, women, the list could go on and on. I’m scared that we may be at war soon. I’m scared that a President has validated bigotry. I’m scared because our Vice President believes electroshock therapy can “cure” homosexuality (you can’t make this shit up).
But I’m also hopeful. There are clearly plenty of young people ready and willing to fight for change. Although policy may take a dark turn over the next few years, remember policy doesn’t determine our actions. No President can take away our autonomy. We still have complete control over what we do and how we do it; what we say and how we treat each other. I feel like shit. A lot of us feel like shit. But we are still here. We still have a voice. I don’t know how we move forward... the future is uncertain and terrifying. So grab a friend and give them a hug, tell someone you care about them, go for a walk and think about stuff. We all have to better, and I’m confident we will.