Trump's America & my thoughts
Disclaimer before I start writing- I use writing as a way to reflect and process things. It's therapeutic for me. I have no intentions with this post and it's probably more for me than for you. I don't really know where I'm going with this but I do know that I have a lot of thoughts, so here they are.
These past 8 months have been quite the whirlwind. Before I get into everything I want to start with a quick aside. I think it's so strange that politics is a taboo topic. It's literally someone's thoughts about how they view the world and how they think it should be run... only one of the most important things to decide on and yet we aren't supposed to talk about it.
Well, I don't know about you, but I think that's ridiculous and I'm going to keep talking about it.
I think America's political system and government are incredibly flawed. I think we need a big change, a new system, because our current one has clearly, time and time again, failed us.
Last summer when I was in Costa Rica, I got into a long conversation with some of my friends about the election. This was before the election happened and my friends were a mix of American and British people. One of my friends, Justine, who is about as liberal and hippie as it gets, said that she hoped that Trump would win. We all looked at her with uncomfortable laughs, assuming that she was joking, but she continued. She said that she hoped that Trump would win because she thought it would spark a revolution. She said that we need something (or someone) who will stir the pot and get people thinking and questioning the current system. Justine got what she wanted and this is what has given me hope and grounding amongst it all.
Last fall, 2016, was my first time to be able to vote for the United States President. As a New York State resident, and passionate environmentalist, I decided to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. This was a controversial decision but I stick by it and don't think a vote for Hillary would have changed anything. Coming from a political and strongly Democratic family, I received a lot of criticism and dismay from both my family and peers. To make it very clear, I only voted for Jill Stein because I live in New York which is a definitively blue state. If I lived anywhere where the outcome was questionable I would have voted for Hillary. Also, never in a million years did I think that Trump would actually win. Obviously, I was misinformed and naive about the American public as so many of us were. But still, I stand by my vote.
The night of the election is so vivid in my memory. Sitting in our living room with my roommate, I remember seeing the New York Times predictor change to 99% chance Trump and being in utter disbelief. I thought, there's no way, this can't be real. I stayed up and watched more and more states turn red. As I went to bed late that night, I hoped that I would wake up just to find out that it was all a dream.
I have never experienced as strong of a community reaction as the day after the election. You would have thought that there was a mass shooting or something. Everyone was wearing black, people were crying, no one smiled or barely even made eye contact. Every single one of my classes the next day was cancelled, papers and midterms were postponed, and students organized a walkout. Thousands of Cornell students gathered together along with students at our fellow Ivy League schools. We walked to our arts quad and a series of speakers started.
The speakers were inspirational and thought provoking. One of the standout lines to me was from a student in Cornell's Black Student Union. She said that there is nothing more frustrating then white people saying that they are shocked by this election. I guess the fact that I was shocked by the outcome of the election means that I am a privileged person. Privileged enough not to see the injustices and many -isms of American people.
Trump is not the problem, but the reflection of a broken America. 59 million people chose hate over love, walls over bridges, economic gain over the environment, misogyny over women, racism over equality, and prejudice over religious freedom.
That night, I attended a Black Lives Matter rally, and it was inspiring and thought provoking. It was my first time since being a kid to ever attend a protest or rally. I learned a lot. I began to understand why this happened and why so many turned to Trump. I realized that America has been broken from the start, founded on racism, sexism, and oppression. I was inspired with ways that I can begin to personally build bridges.
This is a scary time, but also exciting. Exciting because this is our chance to be on the right side of history, and make change. This has nothing to do with parties and I don't care that Trump is a republican.
I have heard too many people say that they don't get why people are upset, Trump isn't that bad, and we should accept him. I will not accept that someone who is openly sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and has no regard for the environment is going to be the most powerful person in the world. I will never be voiceless in the face of injustice.
I went to a stand up comedy show after the election with Alice Wetterlund. She said that she was volunteering for the Clinton Campaign the day before the election making phone calls. She talked to one woman who told her that both Trump and Hillary are just as bad so she's not voting for either of them. She said, imagine that you're on vacation in New York City and you finally get to go to the famous Magnolia Bakery for a cupcake. In one scenario, you bite into the cupcake and it's just straight up saw dust. In the other scenario, you walk into Magnolia's and are shot in the face. Wetterlund continued with the joke saying that she would call the woman back to see if she thought she was being dramatic but she'd probably dead because she no longer has healthcare.
For one of my classes, I read an article written by a conservative woman defending a vote for Trump and criticizing what she called "liberal coastal elites". She said that these liberal coastal elites like to use buzzwords like racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. I've been trying to understand more and more why someone would vote for Trump. Our country is so divided. There is so much hate and misunderstanding. Hating the "other" side isn't helping anyone. But this article made me so angry. How could you call those words buzz words?! Acting like calling someone racist is the same as saying that they're bad at golf or can't whistle. Just a small flaw that doesn't really matter. I mean WHAT.
This is a call to action. I hope more than anything that this is the start of a path to a better world. At one of the protests that I attended, a woman said that we need to hold onto this feeling. People are acting who have never acted before and we need to catch their spark and keep it going. I hope we hold onto this anger, fear, hope, and love, and let it bring us to a better place.