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The Night America Went Off-Script

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Last night I, along with several other college students from around Washington, D.C., watched in shock as the presidential election results trickled in. What started as a confident night, a night that many of us assumed would end in victory for Hillary Clinton, and thus a victory for women and all minority groups, ended instead in despair. Waking up today, many Americans are struggling to come to terms with the fact that our current president, the first African-American leader of our country and one who is massively respected worldwide, will be succeeded by a man who devoted much of the past few years to trying to accuse him of not even being born in this country. That is the reality.

Washington, D.C. locals gather in front of the White House on Election Night 2016.

Many friends have said to me over the course of this election that it all feels like a Hollywood movie, with enough scandals and twists to keep any audience riveted. This was certainly the case with the American people. The difference, though, is that in the scripted movie, there would be struggle, and many frustrating scenes when all seemed lost, but ultimately, Hillary Clinton would have won. In the movie that this election will almost certainly become, good would have triumphed over evil, as we are taught will always happen in the fairytales our parents read to us as children.

But that isn’t what happened. Last night, Americans voted to break the pattern, to go off-script, and in the process have highlighted the deep divide that has always been present in this country, and has only been made worse in the 15 years since the September 11th attacks. This is not though, as Hollywood would paint it in a way to make it more easy to understand, a fight between good and evil. It is a misunderstanding of the poorer population of this country that dates back decades, and has seen the traditional American dream slipping away from them, with the only thing remaining being a fear of being left behind. In such circumstances as this, in which large portions of the population feel deeply vulnerable, it is understandable that they would react warmly to a candidate like Donald Trump who voiced their concerns so loudly and angrily, even if these concerns were not based on reason or facts. Due to this group of people’s strong support of Trump, it is unclear whether Clinton could have truly united such a divided country; however, she would certainly have tried. It remains to be seen if Trump will do the same considering he won the election in large part by speaking to this divide, exacerbating it in the process. 

He didn’t just appeal to the class divide in the United States though. Trump also tapped into to the divides between gender, race, and age. As several maps have shown in the past few weeks, had only women, minorities, or millenials been allowed to vote, Clinton would have overwhelmingly won the presidency, due in no small part to Trump’s deregatory statements towards these groups.

What the electoral map would have looked like for presidential race had only millenials voted this year. Source: SurveyMonkey

When it comes to gender specifically, the ramifications are especially large. We have elected a president who is famous for talking about grabbing womens genitals, and has had over a dozen women come forward to accuse him of sexual assault. As a writer for this publication, one that writes for women specifically, I am heartbroken. Hillary Clinton, in stark contrast to Trump, would have been our first female president, something that many of us thought was a foregone conclusion. She would have shattered that “highest, hardest glass ceiling,” as she has so eloquently put it over and over again in campaign speeches, and which she repeated again in her concession speech this morning. The fact that little girls won’t have a strong, intelligent, and highly-qualified president to look up to and to see themselves in during the next four years makes me incredibly sad, and a bit frightened. What this election ultimately shows is that feminism hasn’t succeeded yet, and that other movements, such as those for LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter, still have a lot of work to do in this country as well. 

However, if I were a Hollywood studio executive, I wouldn’t order the production of this film just yet. I would wait until 2020, and see how the next presidential election goes. As I already mentioned, a huge proportion of minority voters voted Democratic this election cycle, something that is unlikely to change in the next election with an incumbent like Donald Trump. This group is growing, and will play a huge part in the 2020 presidential election. It may be then that nasty women, Muslims, immigrants, the disabled, and other groups that now feel they are marginalized will have the last laugh, and vote Trump out of office. In this way, Hollywood, with the help of the people of the United States, might finally be able to write a happy ending. 

Photo Credits: Cover, 1, 2, 3

Maggie is a senior at American University studying Broadcast Journalism and International Relations. In addition to writing for Her Campus as both a featured writer and a section editor, Maggie is also involved in Greek life, an American University Ambassador, and is currently interning in the newsroom at Voice of America. When Maggie is not writing, she can be found obsessively reading Buzzfeed, going back through study abroad photos from London, and dreaming about Baked and Wired cupcakes. After graduation, Maggie hopes to work as a correspondent in Europe, and use this as an excuse to travel the world as much as possible. 
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