The Ann Arbor community reflected on President-elect Donald Trump’s upset win at an event “Anxious Election,” held Wednesday evening after the election was called early that morning.
“I, like most people on campus, woke up this morning absolutely shocked at the news,” attendee and Rackham student Sean Kramer said. “This is a scenario that before last night I’d never really imagined was possible.”
The Natural Science Auditorium was filled nearly to capacity for the event, with many audience members coming from a candlelight vigil held in the Diag Wednesday evening. The forum, sponsored by the History Department, was planned several weeks prior to the election.
The event began with each panelist sharing their thoughts on the results and how to make sense of what had unfolded in the last 24 hours.
Associate History Prof. Matthew Countryman noted what he deemed a stark difference between this election and the outcome and process in 2012.
“Trump didn’t do better than Romney,” he said, adding that he wasn’t sure how this outcome came to be. He concluded saying that, “Clinton could not deliver the Obama Coalition.”
The forum also addressed the many unique factors that have shaped this election, from shifts in the electorate to support of a candidate that History Prof. Geoff Eley said could be deemed a fascist, to the unprecedented role of social media.
LSA senior Leah Duncan, one of the panelists, said she thought social media sites fueled much of the contention throughout the campaigns, adding that the arguments on these sites do not tell the full story and can undermine the political complexities of platforms.
“With the advent of social media, this has introduced I believe a new combat zone for the election,” she said. “Social media has really evolved from an afterthought to a strategic means of free ad space.”
During the election, Trump’s use of Twitter to target political enemies and connect to supporters became infamous. In the last few days before the election, The New York Times reported that his staff had taken away his direct control of his Twitter account
Members of the audience were given time to ask questions and share their thoughts and reflections, with many thoughts and questions touching on anxieties and worries for the coming months and years under a Trump presidency.
Audience members also asked about the role of racism in this election and if it ultimately decided the results. While many of the panelists said they thought it was decided by a multitude of factors, they also said they were particularly concerned that 60 million voters were not offended by Trump. Throughout his campaign, Trump has proposed to ban all Muslim immigration, made offensive comments about Mexican immigrants and bragged about innappropriately touching women.
Engineering junior Mehul Kulkarni said he was feeling scared after the results of the election came in.
“Well my family, we don’t look like everyone else,” he said.
Several panelists said many of them, as faculty and professors at the University, have been struggling with how to talk to their students about the effect of a Trump win.
Anna Berg, the assistant director of Undergraduate Studies, said professors cannot avoid talking about the consequences of how Americans voted.
“(It’s) important that we do away with the false sense of neutrality,” she said. “That we make it clear to our students and to everyone else and to ourselves, too, that certain kinds of things cannot be said.”