On Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, the country watched livestreams and tracked hashtags late into the night, watching Trump win 279 electoral votes to Secretary Hillary Clinton’s 228. A little after 2 in the morning, this long-fought, overexposed, exhausting election was over. Campaigning was done. Donald Trump was officially President-elect.
At Chivomengro, we made the decision over a year ago not to include the then-Republican nominee hopeful in our writing and reporting. The editors agreed that the US media has been irresponsible in their coverage of the Trump campaign and the 2016 election in general. His celebrity status was giving him a pass to say whatever he wanted—be it racist, sexist, or xenophobic. It never seemed to matter. The news media, both online and in print, ate it up and sold it to readers. His continued mass exposure lifted the campaign and the man to an unprecedented place—Donald Trump was virtually untouchable. The media played a major role in that process. We didn’t feel that was right, so we chose not to contribute.
But we’re not talking about a hopeful or a nominee or a candidate anymore. We’re talking about the next President of the United States.
Donald Trump began his boisterous, anger-fueled campaign on a foundation of hate and disregard for human life outside of white America. We watched since last June as his following grew larger and larger under the promise to Make America Great Again through the deportation of immigrants and refugees, the total ban of all Muslim people entering the US, the promise to dismantle the work of political journalists, and a long public feud with actress Rosie O’Donnell. Trump does not believe in the science of climate change, he has no clear plans for foreign policy and terrorism, and he was marked as the first candidate in recent history to not release his tax returns. Trump’s candidacy relied on nativist hate and fear. To say his campaign was an embarrassment and tragedy in our country’s history would be an understatement.
The Trump presidency is now real and tangible. The votes have been tallied, and millions of Americans are either celebrating or shakily coming to terms with that truth. Some aren’t willing to accept it at all. We understand that, too.
His campaign exposed some of the ugliest sides of America. It proudly represents white supremacy, misogyny, and global divisiveness—another infamous hallmark of his campaign was his promise to “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.” His rallies were rowdy and violent against protestors and people of color. He was endorsed by David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan. With the momentum of his supporters and his new massive position of power, these ideas will become real. But it is clear that this version of America existed before the election. With a President Trump as an example, this aggression will transfer to the public and become a problem in cities and towns everywhere. This much reinforced hate can only lead to more attacks against POC and members of the LGBTQ+ community. As if there wasn’t enough of that already.
Now, we as a country have elected a man with twelve sexual assault cases open against him. In response, he called the women liars. When a woman came forward saying that Trump groped her on an airplane, he told a rally of supporters that “she wouldn’t be [his] first choice.” When the Access Hollywood tape of Trump describing kissing women without their consent and “grabbing them by the pussy” surfaced, Trump dismissed it as “locker room talk” and he and his supporters immediately tried to normalize it. A future president using his wealth and status to sexually assault women is not normal. It’s an abuse of power.
So what does that abuse of power say about the tense relationships Trump has with other communities in the US? We saw him use his power to encourage voter intimidation from his supporters toward people of color at the polls. In a country where the black community is facing weekly police shootings and long prison sentences for petty crimes, where Latino men are called drug dealers and rapists (a little too ironic), and where Islamophobia exists, these seemingly baseless claims mean something and they do serious harm to the people they’re accusing. What will he and Mike Pence, the Indiana governor notorious for supporting conversion therapy for homosexual youth, do to the rights LGBTQ+ people are only just now starting to acquire? Marginalized groups around America are being affected by this choice that many Americans made in protest of the system.
It leaves one wondering how we place value on human beings. What does our country think is more important than the rights we spent so long fighting for? How do we explain that to the people who will seriously suffer from a Trump presidency?
Despite all of this, Trump’s message resonated with people. For some, it was his stance on conservative issues. For others, it was the sole idea that he would shake up the political system that middle class Americans are growing tired of. No matter the reasons, he will be our president, as the people voted. That brings fear of legal hurdles, hate violence, and a hostile home for many. With prominent Democrats speaking out to say they hope to work with Trump to make the transition smooth, we’re asked to work with the democracy we voted for and give him a chance to lead. But how much are we supposed to find acceptable? What horrible act of hatred are we waiting on here?
Trying to make things work is one of the only things we can do, since this is what our democracy gave us. But we can also remember that for many, this is going to be an incredibly difficult four years. Communities across the United States are facing fear and pain and uncertainty. Human beings are facing it. We must show each other empathy and kindness, or our country really will have lost.
We need to find a balance—complacency is toxic, but so is anger. In these first moments of shock and hurt, it’s okay—it’s natural—to be angry. But soon, we will lift ourselves up and work to make change. We’ll do it because we have to.