As I see so many of my friends declaring this election outcome a resounding victory for racism, sexism, homophobia etc., I hope instead that this election is a wakeup call that millions of Americans do not feel represented by the Washington establishment and feel they have no voice in the corridors of power. This establishment is deeply interconnected with the academic and corporate elites who largely exist in a bubble, which I've experienced firsthand at this university. As a policy wonk and neoliberal, I’m reckoning with this myself.
If you choose to see this election as a pure victory for hate and nothing more, you are contributing to the widening segregation of understanding between those with economic, political, and intellectual power and those without. Yes, many bigots supported Trump, but we are doing ourselves and our country a disservice if we cannot reach beyond that conclusion and try to understand our fellow citizens as humans with complex motivations that cannot be painted with a broad brushstroke. At Penn, we feel the benefits of technology and globalization, but in much of the rest of the country it is the opposite case. The troubling reality is that many Trump voters were able to look past his bigotry because they finally found a politician who spoke to their reality, as opposed to the interests of patricians of the political fundraising circuit.
As we make the necessary efforts to protect progress in the future through voicing dissent and taking political action, I hope we all realize the necessity of understanding and speaking to our fellow citizens who don't inhabit our intellectual, cultural, and economic circles because we will be the most powerful voices in turning them away from Trumpism and towards a more progressive view of America.