Student Reflections on the Election

The Other 50 Percent
Written by Jackson Paine

On the morning of Nov. 9, I checked my Facebook newsfeed to behold dozens of posts from liberal friends, all horrified and shocked by the news. “I’m speechless.” “I can’t believe this could happen in our country.” I admit to feeling this speechlessness, having had to recover my jaw from its place on the floor after seeing the New York Times projection on the election do a complete 180 at around 9 p.m. on Tuesday night.

At the end of the day it was a close race but Trump and his supporters won. That is nearly 50 percent of this country’s voting citizens. 50 percent of Americans are experiencing happiness, not sadness. 50 percent are breathing sighs of relief and hugging their family out of gratitude and satisfaction, rather than anxiety. We are so disconnected from this other happy 50 percent of the country that we can hardly understand their joy at these results.

So while the results of this election are shocking, I would argue that Trump’s victory is not half as shocking as our profound disconnect with half of the country.

We are all complicit in Trump’s election, even those of us who voted for Hillary or a third party candidate. We are complicit because we did not engage with the opposition as people. As the First Monday speaker Mark Heatherington said not three weeks ago: “we don’t experience each other.” Most of us didn’t see Trump’s supporters as anything more than red bars on a graph, or a worrisome minority on a poll. It was easier to shake our heads and brush Trump aside than it was to actually engage with the people driving him from candidate to nominee to president elect.

Now, nothing can be done. The polls are tallied, a winner was declared, and a concession speech has been read. All we can do now is try to span the disconnect that led us to be so blindsided.

If you want to be mad about the election results, be mad. If you want to be surprised, be surprised. But don’t be stagnant. Instead, get outside of the campus bubble and find some people that disagree with you. This isn’t an option for everyone due to issues of safety, but it is worth the effort to engage in dialogues within spaces where you feel comfortable. Listen to other people’s objections and they will listen to yours. Both sides will benefit from getting their head out of their respective echo chambers once in a while, and maybe then we can begin to see each other as people.

 

Photo by Austin Halpern
Photo by Austin Halpern

Run Towards the Fire
Written by Jacob Walden

The national media is in hyperdrive about the coming end of the world. That is the same media that assured us this would never happen. Sure, wallow in despair tonight. Shiver under your covers. Sob. Yell into your pillow. Poo-poo the loss of your stock options. Make your one-click Amazon purchase of Russian Rosetta Stone. But tomorrow morning your country expects you to wake up early, pull yourself together, and carry on. You and the country will survive. The tear stains will come out of the pantsuit.

The most un-American response is to accede to the idea that the election of one acidic, orange-marinated ego is the end of our 238-year-old democracy. That is weak. We are stronger. We are 320 million people raised with a visceral belief in the Constitution. The women and men who built our institutions did not cower before their injustices. They faced them head on and changed them for the better.

America did not end tonight. America ends when people like you and I believe that we can no longer repair our faults. It ends when people stop resisting and stop caring.

There is no better time than now to fight for what is right. Sometimes opportunities for greatness are thrust upon us. When the going gets tough, get tougher. And while you’re pulling yourself together tomorrow, ask yourself: when the fire comes, will you run away, or will you rush in to help?

Do not be afraid. Do not run away. Run towards the fire and fight it. I, for one, will be there with you.

 

Photo by Austin Halpern
Photo by Austin Halpern

Who the Media Pays Attention To
Written by Hannah Glosser

How is it that all respected news outlets, pollsters, and political scientists anticipated an overwhelming Hillary Clinton win? The media covered Trump’s candidacy tirelessly, but did they fail to take him seriously?

Salena Zito wrote in The Atlantic, “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” The news media dominated by liberal sentiment is out of touch with the citizens of this country. The job of the news is to inform public opinion, but disenfranchised voters did not want to listen.

The 2016 election cycle has revealed that the media has less influence than many assumed. There was extensive fact-checking, a multitude of editorials and public endorsements, and revealing articles on Trump’s lewd and racist remarks. The media’s constant critique of Trump reinforced the prevalent idea that Trump is an outsider. That he is not a part of the political elite and is a normal, ‘real’ American.     

I hope this does not indicate the beginning of the decline of the media’s power in informing public opinion and checking the government. The media attempts to create transparency and accountability within our democracy, and the weakening of this check is disheartening.

 

Photo by Marta Sola-Pfeffer
Photo by Marta Sola-Pfeffer

No Longer Being Listened To
Written by Paulina Ukrainets

It’s sometime past 11 p.m. on Tuesday. We’re tossing a flat basketball around a camping table by the fire outside the lodge, lost somewhere within the liminal space between our preconceived notions of tonight’s reality and the cold, hard, unbearably painful fact. Donald Trump hasn’t officially been pronounced the winner of the election, but we all know it’s him. We all know, and a wound that has almost healed is reopened yet again.

It’s easy to say that Colorado College is not a community of faith, and in terms of religion, perhaps that’s true. We did, though, have faith in America. We had faith that the rights and opinions of the majority of our community were valued. Tomorrow, we will wake up and go to class, where we’ll be told that we matter; that we are going to change the world for the better. Today, though, that’s hard to believe. It’s hard to believe that the essential rights that some of us fought so hard for are likely to be swept away into the great Trump void within a matter of months. It’s hard to comprehend that so many things I’ve believed are being challenged, challenged in a way that doesn’t let me respond.

It seems as though so many of us were only just beginning to be heard, and yet we are no longer being listened to. Our voices fade into white noise that screams “Make America Great Again;” I become less and less inclined to whisper.

 

Photo by Marta Sola-Pfeffer
Photo by Marta Sola-Pfeffer

Anger is Not a Plan
Written by Max Kronstadt

If you believe, as I do, that a Donald Trump presidency poses an existential threat to American democracy and world order, then Tuesday night was angering, confounding, even depressing. Trump’s election undoubtedly represents a major step backwards in the march towards a more just world.

However, we must not hang our heads, throw in the towel, and declare that all is lost.  Trump’s election should instead mark the beginning of a movement to reject hate and divisiveness.

Here are some things I ask of the people who feel the same way about Trump as I do.

Don’t move to Canada. Don’t joke about moving to Canada. If you have the financial means to simply pick up and move to another country, the worst effects of a Trump Presidency probably won’t fall on you anyway. Running away is cowardly, joking about running away is disingenuous. Stay here and fight. We’re going to need all the help we can get.

Don’t despair any longer than is absolutely necessary. Don’t pretend to despair because you think that will make you seem politically aware and passionate. We all have a right to grieve, to feel lost and hopeless, but we also have an obligation to move on, and to renew our commitment to fight for our values.

Engage with people who don’t think the same way you do. We cannot dismiss Trump supporters as just a radical group of racist, sexist, uneducated people—they have real, justified concerns, and they run our country now. In order to effectively deal with a Trump presidency, we must understand where his supporters are coming from.      

As Hillary Clinton said before the election, anger is not a plan. Protesting is the beginning of a plan. Working hard on local issues, organizing around specific causes, and making sure Democrats win big in two years are, in my mind, the only viable paths forward. That’s my plan.  I hope it will be yours too.

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