By Andrew Tyrrell, Managing Editor
Over a week later, and Trump’s win still takes some digestion. The absolute shock of election night lingers. Before I really get going, I want to offer a sincere congratulation to Mr. Trump and his supporters. They won an election that no one thought they could win. And that’s a major source of the shock for the American people.
The popular vote says that the American people wanted Hillary Clinton as their president. I have long been an advocate for the removal of the Electoral College from our system. It is arcane and is no longer relevant or necessary. But no one saw this coming.
Professors in our own political science department didn’t think it would be possible. Nate Silver, a pollster famous for correctly predicting the outcome of every state in the 2012 election, has just as much egg on his face as every other pollster, even though his model was still the most accurate. Not one expert predicted that Donald Trump would win the election.
When Brian, our Opinions and Editorials Editor here at the Torch, pitched this article, he wanted to know where the country goes after the election. I was looking forward to writing this article, because I, like most people in this country, including many Trump supporters I suspect, thought that Hillary would win.
I regret to inform that I cannot say with any real degree of certainty what the people of the United States can expect from their President over the next four years. I cannot listen to speeches given by Trump, I cannot read his policy proposals on his website, I cannot listen to him in the debates and tell you that he will do those things. I just don’t know. I honest to god don’t know, and that’s painful. Sure, he’s told us plenty, but he’s adopted every position possible between when he announced his candidacy and now. Nothing is guaranteed with this man.
But I can take a few educated guesses. I can guess that Trump will get at least two Supreme Court appointees. The seat vacated by the late Justice Scalia still needs to be filled, and it’s likely that Justice Kennedy will step down during the first year or so of Trump’s presidency. Justice Ginsburg will do her best to hold out from retirement, but she is old and frail, so let’s make it a neat three appointees for Trump. For a very long time in our lives, the Supreme Court will be have a 6-3 conservative lean. Roe v Wade will get overturned the first opportunity the court gets, and there’s a chance that Obergefell v Hodges, the case that afforded marriage equality, could go the same way. Senator McConnell has already told us that their first action when Trump takes office is to repeal Obamacare, which will leave millions of Americans without coverage.
Even then, I can’t say that those things will certainly happen, because nothing has been certain with Trump.What I can talk about, and what I think is very, very important to talk about, is how people felt on November 8.
Yes, Trump won fair and square. He tapped into something in the American electorate that propelled him to victory. And that left millions of Americans scared shitless.
During CNN’s election coverage, commentator Van Jones mentioned that he had Muslim friends asking him if they should leave the country, out of fear for their lives. The day after the election my father ran into an acquaintance, an openly gay man who is happily married. The first thing he thought to say to my father was that his marriage will not be taken away from him. People are genuinely terrified of the man that was just elected president. But this isn’t the first time this has happened in American history.
While talking to my father the day after the election, he told me that the way I feel, that many people my age feel, is how he felt when Reagan was elected. That feeling of despair tearing at the pit of your stomach, the anger, the shock, was how many Americans felt when Reagan beat Carter. But this time it’s different, because at least Reagan had been Governor of California.
Never before has this nation elected a man so unqualified to hold the most powerful office in the world. Donald J. Trump is unequivocally a racist, misogynist, and xenophobe. His campaign was based on the same playbook that Adolf Hitler used in 1930s Germany.
He channeled the pain and frustration of working class white Americans, who are so afraid of losing their jobs to immigrants, and are terrified of terrorist threats that are frankly existential. But they are ruled by fear, and Trump presented himself as someone who could help them conquer that fear.
I am numb. I still do not know how to react. I do not know what to say to the people that I love, how to console them. I don’t know how to comfort my female friends and family members, friends who are minorities, and friends who are part of the LGBT community. Their very existence, their day to day lives are genuinely in danger. This is not hyperbole. Donald Trump has made it clear that women are objects, that blacks and Hispanics are criminals and job stealers, that Muslims are terrorists, and that members of the LGBT community are unnatural and are not welcome.
I am angry. I am angry at my fellow Americans for being so asinine. For being so terrified of people who look different, who think differently, who come from somewhere different, and for blaming them for things that are not their fault.
I am angry because the people that elected this man over the most qualified person in history, don’t yet recognize that he is the exact person who is the cause of their misery. He has done nothing, nothing, to show he is trustworthy, that he will help you, that he will do anything for you. He has not proven this. He has no track record.
I am angry because I feel powerless. But I am not powerless. These next four years will not be easy. They just won’t. We’re looking at the potential of a recession for God only knows how long. There will be policies that harm a majority of us, whether they are economic or social. It is entirely within our power to fight.
We fight by running for office. We fight by electing those who truly reflect what we want, those who are the most passionate about fighting against the injustice and infringement of civil liberties that is sure to come from a Trump presidency. As a white, middle class, Protestant man I have power. I will use that power to the best of my ability to fight for those who will suffer most from this presidency, and I urge those in a similar position to do the same.
Donald Trump ran on the idea that America needed to be made great again. This country’s history is not without its faults, it is not without a very bloody history, a history full of injustices, injustices that are sure to continue because of the man that was just elected. In spite of that America is great. America is great because we always, always fight for what is right.
We always fight for the little guy, for what is just, and we fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. That is the enduring spirit of the American people. We are fighters. And we’ve got one hell of a fight ahead of us to ensure that what this country was founded on remains intact: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, for everyone.
In order to do this, we must move forward. We cannot have a prolonged period of mourning. It is imperative that we persevere.