What we feel — and what most of our campus feels — is an enormous loss in Hillary Clinton’s defeat in this election. With Trump’s victory, racism, misogyny and hate appear to have won. People who have stood in staunch opposition to Trump are now left disenfranchised with him as our leader, and some are fearful for their livelihoods. Now we must move forward, both as a nation and a campus community. Nationally, we hope the structure of our government places strong enough checks on the president to prevent our commander-in-chief from doing anything catastrophic for the country or the world. And as students, we must mobilize to repair the wounds this intensely polarized election has inflicted upon our campus community.
On a national scale, American politics have taken a turn toward nativism, populism and anger. By defying conventional wisdom and rejecting Clinton’s message of “Stronger Together,” the nation has signaled its strong distaste for the status-quo politician, messages of hope and a more inclusive nation where all people’s rights are protected. With Republicans keeping control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate and Trump’s presidency, our country will be forced to reject progressive initiatives many thought were the future of federal policy.
We as a nation will have to rely on federalism to check Trump’s power as president. Though Republicans hold a majority in the House and Senate, over 30 have openly opposed Trump. We hope these legislators form a coalition with like-minded Republicans — as well as Democrats — to block the passage of more extreme policies Trump has proposed, like banning Muslims and building a wall on the country’s southern border. If extremely exclusionary policies like these do pass in the legislature, governors at the state level could play a crucial role in enforcing these types of laws.
What is of utmost importance about the next four years is the status of the empty seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. If Trump appoints a justice whose views align with any degree of closeness to Trump’s most extreme policy proposals, the best we can hope for is that the Senate rejects the appointment. However, a conservative of any kind on the court could seem better in the eyes of the Republican-majority Senate than the even-numbered court that would result from the Senate denying approval of a Trump appointee.
Perhaps of the most immediate concern, though, is how to move forward from this election as a campus community that has been fractured by highly polarized partisan politics. Across the nations and among students, individuals’ unique identities, beliefs and vulnerabilities have been exploited by the media and pitted against one another for political gain. It is imperative that students respect one another’s voices as the University works to heal these wounds.
Though the results of this election come as a disappointment for many of us in the campus community, we cannot let defeat stand in our way. Trump as president will set us back on the progress our nation has made toward a government that is by the people, for the people. But our efforts on the grassroots level can still have a positive impact. To recall President Barack Obama’s words at the get-out-the-vote rally Monday morning, the most important office in a democracy is that of the citizen. It is upon us as citizens to be champions of inclusivity — be that of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or even political affiliation — and to work for the change we want to see. Together, even in the face of hatred, we can build a stronger campus community and a stronger America.