On Nov. 8th, the American people defied polls and expectations and elected a presidential candidate who has openly spoken against almost every minority group in the country. Nobody thought it would happen — FiveThirtyEight and the New York Times polls both gave Secretary Hillary Clinton at least a 70 percent chance of winning the White House. But the tables turned on election night, and now, America is left to learn from this experience and face a future nobody predicted.
The first and most important task that all now-endangered minorities must work to complete is to understand how we can prevent our voices from being squashed again. We must bond together and organize to ensure that in the future, no other politician will be able to spew Trump-like rhetoric and still have a path to the presidency.
Many are saying we must “heal and recover” from this shock. But we can’t afford to heal. Healing means crawling back into a liberal bubble, where nobody even considered the possibility of a Trump presidency. We cannot heal, but we can learn. It is time for us to realize that we are out of touch with the majority of the American people.
Trump brought to light the white, Evangelical, heterosexual, male population’s feelings of disenfranchisement and dissatisfaction with President Obama’s policies. Their anger is not to be taken lightly. Those who feel oppressed are angry, because they feel the system has failed them; they will turn out in droves to vote, which is what happened on Nov. 8. Liberals, on the other hand, became complacent, and did not vote because they assumed people across America would outright reject Trump. Next time we have a Democratic White House, we must remember that it could all be taken from us in a second. We cannot afford to grow overconfident, which is what happened to liberal America in this election.
Our first instinct is to get angry, denounce America and claim we — the liberal populace — have nothing to do with the country we live in. That’s the easy way out. That would be embracing the hatred and polarization that this election created. We have to make an effort to reach out and heal the divided country our polarization has created. As Democrats, as the people who have championed the slogan of “Love Trumps Hate,” we have to be the ones to put our emotions aside and adopt a growth mindset. We cannot afford to refer to Trump supporters as “those people.” They are Americans, as we all are. And like it or not, we have more similarities than we think. Both sides want the American economy to grow faster, want better quality of life for working class Americans, want to be supported by their government.
Right now, being involved in politics means choosing a side and wholeheartedly supporting that side while spreading the narrative that your opponents are the most evil demons to grace this side of the globe. It is our job to work to create an America where people can agree with ideas from both parties, instead of feeling the need to vote down the ticket.
But while we are compromising and creating discussion, we must remember to never lose hope. We can open a dialogue, we can understand the issues conservatives have with Obama’s America, but we will not, cannot, give up on our ideals of love, of equality, of an America for everyone. We must defend human rights, the belief that all people were created equal, that labels such as “illegal” and “Muslim terrorist” have no place in our society. We have a duty to protect the individuals being harmed by the significant spike in hate crime since Trump’s election. We will lobby, we will speak out when nobody else will, and come next election, we will make Donald Trump a one-term president. We believe in Obama’s America, and we have an obligation to protect that dream.