Although I may not be American myself, your nation’s ability to shake the world to its core has never ceased to amaze me. Just a few nights ago, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States of America. Just let that sink in for a second.
As someone who loves politics, this election was quite the journey. Since campaigning began, I have been very vocal about my beliefs and have been a part of the conversation in one way or another. Now that the results have come in, I’m overwhelmed with despair, disbelief and confusion. This election was not just an election for me as at the end of the day, I live in, what I think is the greatest nation in the world, Canada. So, whatever your results would be, I still would have the luxuries and rhetoric of my own country. However, having such strong ties with the United States has made this election quite personal as well.
To me, this election was not any ordinary election for the presidency. This election, was about morality and the societal beliefs that are held by Americans in the 21st century. This election was about whether or not you will tolerate hate, xenophobia, racism, sexism, Islamophobia, misogyny, and discrimination. This was about whether you believe in love and acceptance or hate and violence. This was about whether you think that every life deserves dignity and respect, or if a full human status should only belong to some and not others. You chose the latter, and frankly, I just don’t understand.
Donald Trump’s campaign, I hate to say it, was a smart one. He was for one, was constantly in the media, and for another, had his own supporters so in love with him that they made excuses for his behaviour even when it was inexcusable. He was able to tailor his campaign towards undereducated citizens with economic anxieties by attacking minority groups to gain their support. He basically tapped into the deeply embedded racism that lives in your nation and gave it a voice. American activist and political pundit, Danielle Moodie-Mills, expressed her disappointment of the election on CBC News with a statement that I couldn’t agree more on. She said:
This is so much bigger than that. This is about … and I will say it, because I have literally nothing left to lose tonight … is that this is literally white supremacy’s last stand in America. This is it. This is what this looks like.
This was black people being pushed out of rallies. This was a young boy with cerebral palsy and having his wheelchair kicked and being brought to the front of the line. I mean, this is hatred on a level that we have not, that we have not seen since Jim Crow. So you want to talk about whether Hillary Clinton was likeable, whether it was about emails — no.
We underestimated, as Americans, how deep our hatred was of the other. How deep white, uneducated Americans felt about the demographic shift. We underestimated that level of insidious hatred. And what you have was a man who went around, he stoked every fire, he lit every bridge and just opened the floodgates.
One of the reasons this election has been so scary to so many people is because it affects more than just Americans, but rather the entire world. Many of you forget at times, but let me remind you, that as a superpower that prides itself in being a progressive society, you are looked upon to by many nations. Your influence in terms of media, economy, trade, rhetoric, and social and political movements, all resonate across the world. With this election result, you have made it acceptable for racist, misogynistic, and homophobic people to think it’s okay to treat others inferiorly based on their differences. You have made it acceptable for these zealously prejudicial views to be a norm in society. The reason this is so alarming is that ideologies transcend all boundaries. In fact, just in Canada alone, there has been discourse in favour of Trump-like bigotry. Not to mention, some of our own leaders are supporting and trying to follow the footsteps of Donald Trump, such as Ontario Court Justice, Bernd Zebel and Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch respectively. Your President-Elect has given a voice to bigots all around the world.
Now I understand that many Americans did not vote for Donald Trump, but actually voted for Hillary Clinton. The popular vote shows how Clinton beat Trump by hundreds and thousands of ballots, yet the Electoral vote went to the Republican candidate. While watching the election on November 8th, I could see the incredulity and pain in Clinton’s supporters all throughout the nation. I myself was so shocked that Trump was leading the votes that I had to turn away from the TV. I felt as if my chest was being crushed, thus can only imagine the disheartenment of many of you that actually got to exercise your right to vote.
The aftermath of this election has resulted in protests and heavy dialogue on your values and ideals as Americans. Many people are celebrating the win of Donald Trump, just as many people are out on the streets chanting, “not my president”. What one must realize is that we need to respect the democratic process. The people voted, and Donald Trump won fair and square. However, this isn’t the time to be dispirited or discouraged. This isn’t the time to shy away from politics, but rather the time where you get engaged more than ever. Although your President-Elect has been chosen, you still have a voice, so let it be heard. As much as I think Donald Trump is explosively provocative and obnoxious, I hope he hears you and tries his best. I hope he listens to ALL Americans and tries to be progressive. As Hillary Clinton said, “We owe him an open mind and chance to lead.” Thus, this is the time where you, as well as the rest of the world, need to think strongly and clearly about what we all want the future to look like.
The protests that are sweeping the United States are incredibly important to be acknowledged. It shows proof that many Americans are not accepting hateful speech and discriminatory actions. In all of your modern American history, there has never been such an uproar after an election where citizens literally fear for their rights and safety. This election has been something no one could have predicted or has experienced in America. However, political upsets have been occurring all around the world for many years; and, in reflection, it can be concluded that in order to have a productive protest, you must be careful and remember what it is you are fighting against. There are many times where protests take a dark turn. Everyone has the right to express their political beliefs however, by damaging and hurting others, you are being consumed by anger and not respecting the democratic process. If you are not careful, you will become the exact thing you are fighting against. You will become the violence. You will become the hate. So I say to all Americans that are out on the streets: be loud, be strong, but be responsible.
For those of you who think that the protests need to stop and people need to just “get over it” and “move on”, really need to take a step back and look at the whole picture. Here you have a man who openly has demeaned women, sexualized girls (including his own daughter), has made fun of people with disabilities, has said that he will deport and break countless of families apart, has said that President Obama isn’t even American, has actually taken part in sexual harassment one too many times, has been hateful to an entire religious group of people, has been endorsed by the KKK, has promoted violence in his rallies, has used hate speech again and again, has lied through his teeth, has no proper policy ideas, has no experience in government or politics, has been unable to hold proper relationships in his personal life or professional life, has had many failed business ventures, has not paid his taxes, and has an open fraud case against him, among so many other things just got elected as the leader of the free world. Then, you have his supporters that are feeding into his ignorance by spewing out racial slurs, taking part in hate crimes, are bullying others and just being negative vicious people. Although all of his supporters might not be active in terms of being so vocal, the idea that people’s neighbours, doctors, lawyers, employees, bosses might have racist and discriminatory views is scary. You never know what people are capable of. A lot of silent Trump supporters are one of the many reason he has gotten elected, and to you all I say, I get it. Many of you wanted change and he represented that even if it was terrifying. He was new and transparent, whereas Clinton was unable to connect to the people and brought nothing too special to the table. However, even though you don’t support his hate speech, you are being bystanders. The people he has targeted do not feel a sense of security and community when the population is divided. Therefore, these rallies and protests are important so the rest of America can hear that people are not okay with the social and political climate in America right now. You can’t expect people to “get over it” because this is their life and the lives that they care about at stake here. Its their rights and freedoms. Its their safety. And for those who voted for Trump because they really thought he would unite the country, well in the words of American political activist, Van Jones, “if you want unity, you have to hear the pain first”.
I know many of us are worried about the effect Trump will have on climate change, so be proactive and do what you can to protect our environment. For those of us who are afraid of racial violence, love each other so much more and stand up against bullying. For those of us worried about sexual harassment in the workplace, practice sisterhood and say “no” loud and clear. For those of us worried about not getting jobs and not being taken serious as women, empower each other and remember how far we have come already. No matter what you are afraid of, together you are strong.
Please do not let this election result defeat your faith in the American people or the system. It should rather enrage you! Let this give you the fire you were lacking before to make a stand for yourself, your neighbours, your families and your friends. Let this motivate you to speak up and not give into bigotry and hate. Be courageous! Be powerful! Be safe!
A fellow Canadian.
*Disclaimer: Featured image is not mine. Retrieved here.
**Disclaimer: I just want to say that these political views are soley mine and do NOT reflect the views of Her Campus, the University of Windsor or all Canadians. These views are the concoction of my own experiences of the world, thus do not reflect anyone else. I respect everyone’s political beliefs, even if I disagree, as that is what makes for the democratic process to be so amazing. This peice is not to push my views on any readers, but rather just an outlet of my feelings and thoughts on this specific topic. If I have offended you in any way, I truly want to apologize as that was never my intention. Never be afraid to speak out about what is important to you. Positive change can only occur if we don’t settle and keep the conversation going.