“The Republic is Weeping”: Students react to election

The Republic is weeping.

By the time polling centers closed on November 8th, 61.4 million Americans—47.8% of voters—had cast their ballots for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Virtually every poll put Secretary Clinton ahead of real-estate mogul Donald J. Trump. The New York Times had Secretary Clinton at an impenetrable 95% chance of victory before the voting count began. But by the time dawn broke on November 9th, 61.4 million Americans had begun to realize that, for better or for worse, in 71 days Donald J. Trump would become President Donald J. Trump.

From the moment I set foot on campus that morning, I knew that though many had reason to celebrate, many found themselves in a mood as gray and gloomy as the overcast skies. Never in my five-and-a-half years at Westminster have I seen so much crying. Never have I seen so many people hugging each other with hollow stares, despairing for the future of this nation. Many Clinton supporters, myself included, chose to wear black as a physical representation of our pain.

The Republic is reeling.

On the eve of November 9th, tens of thousands flooded the streets of metropolises across the United States. Protesters in Boston shouted, “Love trumps hate.” New York women declared, “My body, my choice!” A man standing outside the White House held a sign with “Rights for all, not a few” written in bold letters. Berkeley citizens chanted, “The whole world is watching,” eerily paralleling anti-war chants near the end of the riotous 1968 election cycle. Some 4,000 protesters surged the streets of Portland, Oregon, and on their second night of protests the Portland Police Bureau declared that the demonstration had officially become a riot. At the time that this article was written, America had entered its fifth day of nationwide protests with no signs of losing steam. Feminists and feminist allies are currently rallying support for a “Million Women’s March” on Washington scheduled for the day after the inauguration, with more than 121,000 people interested.

For a majority of voters, the future of the Republic is dark.

On his first day in office, the President-elect vows to remove gun-free zones in schools and military bases, opening the door a little wider for mass shootings. He promises an immediate temporary ban on Syrian refugees entering the United States, keeping children like Omran Daqneesh—the iconic bloodied boy in the ambulance—from fleeing their war-torn country for the land of the free.

Minorities across the nation are gearing up for the reality of a Trump presidency. His plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants risks the destruction of entire families. His plan for the “extreme vetting” of Muslims traveling to the US will amplify the racial profiling that already has brown people patted down every day by the Transportation Security Administration with little to no cause for suspicion. His support of “mosque surveillance” reeks of  Nazi Germany and “the Jewish question.” His advocacy for unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policies in big cities, if taken seriously by municipal governments, will allow for people of color like myself to be targeted on the street “at random” for the neighborhood we’re in, the hoodies we wear, the skin we were cursed with. His signature on the First Amendment Defense Act will put more than 9 million LGBTQ+ Americans at risk of open discrimination at the hands of businesses that can claim “religious or moral objections” to the “homosexual lifestyle.” This closely parallels the rejection of black Americans from white-owned businesses in the era of segregation as a result of racism preached in churches nationwide.

For supporters of marriage equality, transgender bathroom rights, and the right to abortion, the era of Trump spells disaster. With Senate Republicans obstructing Judge Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court appointment for over 240 days, the probability that the Obama administration will secure a ninth Justice slims with each passing hour. Three Justices upholding these key human rights—Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kennedy—are either near or past eighty years of age. The President-elect has sworn to appoint conservative judges of the late Justice Scalia’s ilk, and their rulings on social issues will affect a generation of Americans. He has stated that in his first 100 days in office, he will cancel every “unconstitutional” executive action issued by President Obama. Since Trump’s nomination, conservative political organizations previously opposed to his presidency have united to request that, among other executive orders, President-elect Trump specifically cancel orders that protect transgender students from discrimination, prevent federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and allow transgender people to serve in the military.

As improbable as it seems with a unified Republican government in the offing, Trump’s policy proposals stand a chance at being shot down before even gasping for that first breath. Trump’s character, however, will remain as sure and certain as the setting of the sun. I shudder at the thought of my friend, who lives with spina bifida, pledging allegiance to an America led by a man who has mocked a reporter with a congenital joint-affecting condition.

I must cope with the fact that people of color are faced with a man that propagated the racist and unsubstantiated allegation that President Obama was born in Kenya. We will live in a nation with a president who saw fit to hand the positions of chief strategist and senior advisor to Steve Bannon, a proud white supremacist, anti-Semite, anti-feminist, and homophobe. A president who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, the American Neo-Nazi Party, and anti-Muslim activists.

I have to explain to my thirteen-year-old sister that the next leader of the free world believes he can “grab [women] by the p—y,” that “[he] can do anything” to her, to my mother, to my grandmother.

My Mexican friends will suffer under a president who sees them as “people that have lots of problems,” who sees them as bringing “drugs … [and] crime.” A president who calls them “rapists” and calls the undocumented “bad hombres.”

My uncle, who fought alongside future prisoners of war in Vietnam, will spend his dying days with a Commander in Chief who only likes “people that weren’t captured” and lashes out at Gold Star families, those most respected and appreciated members of American society.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence isn’t squeaky-clean either. I must tell my LGBTQ+ friends that he directed Indiana taxpayer dollars to organizations focused on “curing” homosexuality and gender dysphoria. And my cousin, who just revealed her pregnancy after trying for ten years to conceive, will have a vice president who supported a law in his state requiring many women to pay for the burial or cremation of aborted and miscarried fetuses.

Donald Trump appealed to the legitimate fear of extended economic distress and a deep-seated loathing of the Washington elite. But without a shadow of a doubt, this campaign was founded on pure, raw, unadulterated bigotry. And even more worrisome, 60.6 million Americans were either complicit in or tolerant of social injustice of every kind at the executive level. On November 9th, hate waged a jihad against decency. And hate won.

If you supported Trump’s ascension to the Oval Office, know that your triumph comes at a steep price for people both in the United States and in the global community. Suicide hotlines—particularly LGBTQ+ support centers—have received over a 900% increase in the number of daily calls since November 9th. The Southern Poverty Law Center has counted over 300 reported crimes across the nation since Trump’s electoral victory was announced, and the numbers keep increasing. The Republic is sharply divided, and graciousness, civility, and empathy are the first steps towards healing the wounds it has suffered over the last 16 months. Make your celebratory toasts, but give the rest of the nation time to grieve.

If you opposed Trump’s candidacy, understand that this is not the end. The next four years will bring hardship. But the next four years must bring solidarity. Recognize that unity can be achieved without halting the crusade against injustice, intolerance, and inequality. As Hillary Rodham Clinton so often reminded us, “we are stronger together,” and I believe that in my heart of hearts.

Whatever the 45th President of the United States of America may bring, the 9th of November will be remembered as the start of history’s next chapter. We must be ready to start writing.