As my friends and I watched the numbers on FiveThirtyEight and CNN’s coverage tick toward a Donald Trump victory, we tried to hold back our tears. I watched the evening unfold with a group of young women around me — all from different backgrounds, all brought together because we were hoping, desperately, that love and compassion and reason would win.
I was frightened for my bodily autonomy because of the normalization of sexual assault and degrading violence against women exhibited in Trump’s rhetoric. Another friend was concerned for her immigrant parents, who came to this country in search of liberty and equality, and were now facing racism and legislation designed to destroy everything they have worked for, from their small businesses to their family’s health care. Another friend was concerned that LGBTQ rights were being stripped away by ideology that believes there’s only one way to fit into the American narrative.
Friends called, texted, FaceTimed, tweeted, posted, shared and reached out because they were crying and didn’t understand how the America we have known since we were 10 years old could betray us like this. The mood fluctuated between anxiety so bad it caused vomiting, to anger and frustration at the progress we were losing, to abject despair and loss of faith in our nation’s structure and in our fellow Americans.
We were together, though, and love did win the popular vote, if not the structural vote. The singular thing preventing me from hopelessness is the knowledge that millions of Americans felt the same way I did that night, and the same way I continue to feel today. The single thing bringing me hope right now is the notion that we can come together — those of us hurting and terrified — and make a difference by caring for each other, especially women, people of color, religious minorities, LGBTQ people, disabled folks and every other group Trump has demeaned and denigrated every day.
I can’t understand any other way to make sense of these results than to work harder than I ever have in my life to ensure our country works toward common sense, compassion, reason and justice for all Americans and American citizens. I know that millions of us exist, and we need to do this work. Young people, your vote mattered. Young voters in Michigan, your vote mattered so, so dearly. Young people, take your time to grieve and be exhausted and feel defeated. And then know that once you have processed this in your own way, now is the time to act.
Come together with us. We need to build our coalition, support each other through non-governmental means, advocate for one another, practice compassionate and unfearing alliance and try desperately to fight against the horrific actions and sentiments of this man. I am so disappointed and so frightened and so upset. I am also so determined to find the good folks in this community, and to build this community and fight the good fight every single day. Not for myself, but for every single boy and girl and person of color and LGBTQ person and differently abled and Muslim person I know and every other person who will have their rights and dignity tested by this man’s disgusting and thoughtless policies.
I am disgusted and horrified and upset, and I know this feeling is powerful. Let’s harness this power. Let’s turn out in record numbers to volunteer for organizations supporting refugees, reproductive rights, minority rights and more. Let’s turn out in record numbers to protest discriminatory policies. Let’s turn out in record numbers to vote in 2018 and infuse the Senate, the House of Representatives and the state assemblies and governorships with love, tolerance and dignity. Let’s turn out in record numbers in 2020 to renounce violence and despair and racism. Let’s not give in. Let’s grieve, let’s fight and let’s not let this moment go to waste.
Madeline Nowicki is a School of Information junior.