This month of November felt like a political eternity. The sheer magnitude of unexpected, often upsetting revelations could have easily provoked the temptation to drop out of political awareness. Nonetheless, I have been inspired to see a resurgence of organization and motivation. However, as the left settles into our new oppositional role, it is important to take account of the multifaceted risks we face from the Trump administration. In particular, I identify an array of four particularly significant areas of concern.
Donald Trump, like Mobutu Sese Seko’s illegitimate child, is already showing his nepotistic tendencies. Unprecedented is an understatement. Trump’s transition team reportedly enquired about obtaining security clearances for his children, the very people who would be controlling his “blind trust.” Ivanka Trump sat in on her father’s meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. Trump, *ahem*, reportedly closed their meeting by asking his guest if he could help him understand just quite why “the nuclear” is so bad. Jared Kushner, a newspaper proprietor, could bring peace to the Middle East, according to Trump.
The Democrats lost this election. But despite what you may have heard from the countless talking heads on TV, they have not lost the people. By the time all votes have been counted, Hillary Clinton will have won the popular vote by a larger margin than many previous victors, and Democratic senatorial candidates will have garnered millions more votes than their Republican counterparts. That isn’t just some factoid destined for the footnotes of history — it needs to be a guiding factor in the actions of the party over the next two years. The Democrats must govern like they represent the majority, because they do.
In the distressing times that followed election night, it seems natural that our community would feel the need to pull together, to stand as one and fight harder for the recognition of shared values. There are two purposes to this need for mobilization: the first is to provide a supportive space for the liberals among us, to build solidarity and help each other through fear, pain and uncertainty. Following this call to unity came a call to activist mobilization: we need to protest, take the streets and “fight back” against the hate crimes and the hurtful speeches that Trumpism normalized. With this call to activism comes concern: especially when it comes to values and ideals, the activism of a group may require the alienation of another. As friend unfriend friends on Facebook and as some families struggle to bridge their political divides, the temptation to “fight back” brings with it the shadow of counterproductive polarization.
Chandler’s boss made a joke in a Friends episode referencing a possibility that many Americans have been waiting to witness for quite some time: Hillary Clinton as President of the United States, becoming the first woman to wield the title ‘leader of the free world.’ He said “I strongly believe that we should all support President Clinton — and her husband Bill.” It was based on the premise that Hillary was overstepping her role as First Lady, to the point of essentially doing her husband’s job. She was out of her place. Although the tasteless joke was made by a schmuck and Chandler only laughed to avoid any conflict, it did touch on how sexism can affect a powerful woman. Pundits have speculated over the multitude of reasons for the election outcome in the past few weeks. Conservative commentators have been quick to argue that any effects of sexism were cancelled out by Hillary’s status as an elite.
If you’re here for an in-depth thinkpiece on what happened two weeks ago, you’re in the wrong place. I don’t want to give you my hot take on how Hillary missed the rust belt Forgotten Man, or talk about Trump supporters who are boycotting Hamilton and writing “Trump” on their Starbucks cups. By this point we’ve seen all of this time and time and time again on our Facebook newsfeeds. Instead, I’m going to talk about the less sexy side of politics. More specifically, the side that requires people like you and me to step off our Cornell campus and out from behind the comfort of a column, and into the world that we think and learn and write about everyday here.
Last Tuesday, along with just over half the country, I voted. (Only 55 percent of voting age Americans cast ballots. Come on, people.) I drove the 48 miles to my hometown, a region projected to be a deep shade of red. It was nearly an hour into enemy territory, all to participate in person and fulfill my civic duty. My family piled into the car and drove to a church a few blocks over; we even took my youngest brother along, despite his not being able to vote until 2020.
In these ridiculous times, it’s tempting to take ridiculous positions; after all, we have a ridiculous President-elect. From his golden hair to his stubby fingers, Trump is a caricature of American wealth, power and superficiality. Of course he’ll lead us into outlandish positions. These are a few such positions. Regardless of your political beliefs, don’t let yourself fall into any of these traps, and you’ll be an island of sanity in the ocean of weirdness that political debate has become.
A week has passed since my initial feelings of anger, pain and shock over the election. There are people who have already so eloquently summed up their thoughts on the results and shared in my grief. But I can’t forget that morning, feeling the heaviness in my heart, and thinking, I’ve never been so disappointed to call myself an American right now. As I walked to class, there was a melancholy that permeated the campus. Students’ heads were bowed.
It’s been a difficult week. Many of us, including myself, were left distraught by the election of Donald Trump as our next president. It was disturbing to see that his candidacy was not impeded by his flagrant violation of democratic norms, tolerance and simple human decency. Most notably, his admission to sexual assault and his bigoted attacks on Muslims, Latinos, immigrants were apparently no obstacle to achieving the most powerful office in the world. In response, the mood on our campus, and across the country, has been dour.