Donald J. Trump’s victory in the most recent presidential election undoubtedly came as a shock to everyone who watched the results pour in on Election Day, as most people expected the win to go to Hillary Clinton.
It is difficult to imagine what the Clinton campaign felt immediately after the results were finally announced. However, upon watching her concession speech in the wake of Trump's victory, one can probably envision the depth of disappointment she and her team felt.
Her own political chances seem to be over, having lost twice to underdog candidates in tight races. The next four years of this country's future have been given to a man who can only be described as the least-qualified presidential candidate in the recent history of the United States.
During the rush of analysis and confusion that ensued, plenty of explanations were presented to try and rationalize Trump’s victory. Whether his victory was a result of a faulty Electoral College system, the unexpected flood of once-ignored poor, white voters who wanted him in office or the FBI's ridiculous timing in announcing more email investigations, the race is over now. Trump is the president-elect and the face of the United States, the person who represents millions of U.S. citizens to foreign countries. He is now called upon to lead the country into what can only be called an uncertain future.
It is not unusual to be afraid of future politicians. Protests against a Trump presidency erupted in many major cities across the United States following the results of the election, even in New York City, where 69 protesters were arrested during a march in Union Square.
The protests were, without a doubt, a massive show of solidarity against Trump's brand of hatred and fear-baiting that got him to the White House in the first place. They were telling of the power of the people who were willing to defend the more vulnerable members of U.S. society. The protesters that night were not just willing to be arrested, but they were willing to be hurt in the name of someone other than themselves.
The next four years will be a rocky road. Trump and his vice president, the notorious anti-feminist and anti-LGBT Gov. Mike Pence, have a Republican Congress behind them and the power to appoint at least one conservative justice to the Supreme Court. Rights that have been won by the least-represented U.S. citizens, such as the right to same-sex marriage and to abortion, will be challenged with a vigor like never before. The nature of what it means to be a U.S. citizen will be fundamentally questioned in the next four years.
This country has faced crises before, from the Civil Rights Movement to the Stonewall riots to the suffragette protests, but the election of a right-wing populist like Trump is arguably one of the greatest crises in recent memory. Trump, with all his huckster sheen and ridiculous personality, will not be what the United States represents.
While he was voted in by nearly half of voters who showed up to the polls, the future needs to be considered. Those who avoided voting because they saw Clinton as a guarantee and Trump as a joke need to be sternly reminded that the joke is not funny anymore.
Most importantly, those afraid of being hurt by Trump's radical supporters need to be reminded that his supporters are U.S. citizens as much as anyone else is, and that there will always be people to protect all sides, regardless of views.
This election was a failure of love and empathy, and only love and empathy can fix the cracks this election has made in the nation. The United States was built on a legend that it is a land for everyone fleeing persecution. Given a second chance, citizens can build themselves up from nothing no matter where they come from. Now is the time to stop repeating this legend and work to turn it into a reality.
In times of fear and uncertainty, life has a way of going on. It is the responsibility of citizens to make sure that life goes on for everyone, not just for a select few. Everyone has just as much of a right to be understood and considered as anyone else, whether one has to consider the opinion of a poor white U.S. citizen who voted for Trump or of the child of immigrants who saw Clinton as a sign of hope. This especially applies to those who have taken Trump's victory in stride.
Trump’s victory meant loss to many others. It was a loss not just for Clinton, but for every U.S. citizen who hoped to move past the nation’s past failures.