Nataleah and the Nation: A reaction to 2016 presidential election

Nataleah Small

trump clinton 2016.jpg
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

They said that it couldn’t be done. A blue wall was stretched out across the rust belt, a wall that could not be demolished. But it seems like they were wrong.

They were all wrong. Every pro-Hillary poll was discredited as Trump won state after state. So many of us thought that his campaign was a joke, but now it looks like the joke was on us.

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But why aren’t we laughing?

That night, I attended a non-partisan election watch party hosted by ASCSU at the Lory Student Center theater. Before I arrived, I earnestly watched the online polls published by Google and the New York Times. Early on, Trump had the lead. But he was leading in states I expected him to win, like the South and Midwest. I was nervous, but I hadn’t started to sweat. I was confident that Clinton would pull ahead.

But, as the night went on, my anxiety grew. I thought, “This isn’t happening. This can’t be happening.” The Trump supporters at the watch party were excited and happy, although slightly stunned. I don’t even think Trump knew that he was going to win. The Clinton supporters at the party were despondent. They had been planning for a victory, yet they were dealt a harsh and heavy loss. I have never seen so many faces sink at once.

The tension could have been cut with a knife.

TrumpPicture.jpgEven the TV reporters were stunned as they learned the election results. Anderson Cooper slouched like a confused child. He looked dazed and mystified. Wolf Blitzer’s stoic expression was transformed with frustration and unhappiness. No one expected that the white, middle-class vote would dominate this election. We expected that politics as usual would prevail. Instead, we were granted change, but not the change many of us were looking for.

After submitting my article to my editor, I drove home with NPR blasting through my car speakers. A commentator said, “We are walking into the abyss.” We don’t know what to expect. “Hopefully we won’t get into an accidental nuclear war.” As if such an event could be accidental. You label spilled milk as an accident, an accident committed by a third grader. You don’t label M.A.D. policies as accidents, especially when they’re supported by 70-year-old adolescents. “We were all wrong.” The polls told lies and gave us a false sense of hope.

Donald Trump took the stage in Manhattan and claimed his victory. I parked my car in front of my home and listened to his stinging words. I could only tolerate a few moments of his speech before I grabbed my laptop and dashed inside. I took a hot shower and hoped that the water would wash away my fear and confusion.

It didn’t.

As I lay in bed, scrolling through my Facebook, I read post after post from my Democratic friends. They were scared. Legitimately terrified.

A Hillary Clinton supporter holds up a sign that states "Love Trumps Hate" at a Bernie Sanders rally on October 17, 2016 at Colorado State University. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)
A Hillary Clinton supporter holds up a sign that states “Love Trumps Hate” at a Bernie Sanders rally on October 17, 2016 at Colorado State University. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

My friends have intersectional identities. They are a diverse group of females, males, heterosexuals, LGBTQA, Latinos, Muslims, whites and African Americans. Many expressed their sadness and discontent. Many were frightened and awestruck. Many were unable to accept the results. We thought we would be safe. We thought we were bound to prevail. But now we have to live with the results. The acid in the wound is the knowledge that Clinton won the popular vote. We all cursed the electoral college.

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But this is a democracy, and the people have spoken. In high school, I learned two important lessons from my AP European History professor, Linda Fabrizio. 1. Never invade Russia in winter. 2. Politics swing like a pendulum: gravity will always prevail.

Maybe this is just a reaction. The American public expressed that they are unhappy and feel like their voice has been silenced. Van Jones called Trump’s win a “white-lash against a changing country.” The talons of a dying hawk sinking into the flesh of its prey.

To be honest, I am afraid. I am afraid of a regime ruled by a malicious, incompetent tyrant. I am afraid of the people who voted for him. I can only wonder what they were thinking. I am afraid that the rights of my LGBTQA friends will be denied. I am afraid that my female friends will be denied access to birth control and reproductive medicine. I am afraid that the subtle racism brewing in the country will erupt in the next four years. I am afraid that the greatness so many voted for will be denied. We may go backwards 50 years. It may take us twice as long to recover.

Fort Collins residents gathered for peaceful protest in light of the recent presidential election at Civic Center Park for the Peace and Solidarity Rally hosted by Fort Collins for Progress.
Fort Collins residents gathered for peaceful protest in light of the recent presidential election at Civic Center Park for the Peace and Solidarity Rally hosted by Fort Collins for Progress.

I will not let my fear consume me. These are trying times. Trump is a wildcard. No one knows what to expect. Yet, I will not let this depression consume me. I will not let my fear of the future keep me from making a difference. America is not great. America is not perfect. The American dream was built upon the backs of Natives, African Americans, Latinos and the poor. The supremacy of whiteness is at our core. In recent history we began to pull away from that mindset, to see the error of our ways. This election has proven that half the country is unwilling to surrender to progress. They miss the comfort of the past.

This is not the time to flee to Canada. Yes, the Canadian immigration website crashed last week. Yes, many people are scared. Yes, this was an unprecedented election. But we are Americans. We will not give up. We will not stop fighting for justice, equality and freedom. Forget the notion that we are “the greatest nation on the planet.” We were not too big to fail. We were not too pure to avoid corruption. Now, more than ever, we must move forward. We cannot stop fighting, we cannot stop loving one another. This is democracy. Because it did not work in our favor this time around does not mean this is the end of the world. Remember the pendulum.

Have hope, hold fast, keep faith. As one of my favorite musical composers once said, “Love is love is love is love.” Hope is hope is hope is hope. This is not the end. This is simply a moment in history. Years down the road our grandchildren will ask us how we voted and how we reacted. We are duty bound to tell them the truth. We are duty bound to tell them our story.

Collegian writer Nataleah Small can be reached at blogs@collegian.com. Leave a comment!!