This week we are giving our take on the U.S. presidential election results.
When I found out that Donald Trump was elected as our 45th president, I cried! I was angry, hurt and confused. I was in shock and disbelief when he won my home state of Ohio (Hillary won in my county). It truly felt like a kick in the gut and betrayal. I can’t understand how anyone could vote for someone with racist, misogynist, homophobic and xenophobic views to run our country?
Trump’s campaign rhetoric emboldened many people who had previously kept their racism and hatred under wraps. Social media has been an absolute war zone. I have seen posts about friends and family arguing so badly about this election that they are no longer on speaking terms. People of color, people of non-Christian faiths and many in the LGBTQ community are afraid that they will no longer be safe in this country. Women are also worried about their reproductive rights being taken away. Muslim and Latino adults and children have been harassed and told to leave the country.
For those living outside of the U.S. wondering how Trump was elected, here’s part of your answer. Even though Hillary won the popular vote (more people voted for her), Trump received the 270 electoral votes needed to win. There is also the fact that about 49% of eligible Americans did not vote at all! I suggest reading this article by Billboard which explains how Hillary lost the election.
So, what do we do now that a spotlight has been placed on our country’s deep-seated issues? We can no longer pretend they don’t exist or that it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t effect you. This election has brought out the worst side of us. We have to do better and be better. If we don’t learn from history, we will be doomed to repeat it. We have to keep fighting with grace and dignity for progress and equal rights for every citizen in this country. As First Lady Michelle Obama said: “When they go low, we go high.”
I was sick Wednesday morning after the election. I don’t mean that in the American, “I’m not feeling very well” kind of way. I mean that in the British, “I vomited up my insides into the toilet” kind of way.
The night before, when it became clear that Trump was going to win the presidency, a friend of mine texted his parents to ask if they had voted for Trump. They’re long-time Republicans but had never explicitly said whether they would vote for him in this election. His parents texted back and said that they did, but they didn’t expect him to win. My friend, who is gay, told them that because Trump was planning on rolling back several key protections for LGBT Americans, he considered their vote to be a personal attack against their own son, and that he would not be seeing them for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the foreseeable future.
This election caused my friend to disown his parents.
Going into Tuesday night, most opinion polls predicted the race would be close, but that Hillary would ultimately be the winner. Why that didn’t happen will be analyzed and debated for years to come. Some say that many Trump supporters weren’t vocal about it before the election, but still cast their vote for him. Others say that people who weren’t happy with either candidate didn’t vote for President at all, and instead focused their attention on the other races that were on the ballot. And many blame America’s out-of-date election system. We do not vote directly for the President. Instead, each state has a pre-determined number of “electors”. They meet in December to formally elect the President based on which candidate won in their state. So while Clinton actually won the overall popular vote by more than 300,000 people, she was only able to capture 228 of these “electors”, while Trump got 290.
I wasn’t sick on Wednesday because our election system is broken, however. I was sick because Trump’s victory made something abundantly clear — something myself and many other Americans had been trying to ignore. Trump succeeded because he was able to tap into an ugly, dark side of America and exploit it for his own gain. It’s the side that’s horribly racist, bigoted, and violent. It’s the side we thought we had been moving away from over the past eight years under President Obama. And it’s the side that reared it’s ugly head on election night, proving to us all that we weren’t the America we thought and hoped we were.
But I do truly believe there’s still a light at the end of all of this. Slowly, over the past few days since the election, I’ve seen the posts in my social media feeds turn from ones of despair and grief to ones of strength and courage. I’ve seen people take to the streets in Seattle, New York, Chicago, Cleveland, and all across the country to protest a Trump presidency. I’ve heard people advocating kindness and compassion when confronted with hatred. I’ve seen America pushing back against our dark side, and ultimately, it will be our people and their actions — not our President — who defines America.
And I have hope.