Editorial Board: The mourning is over; time to organize
The election of Donald J. Trump to the Presidency of the United States is, without question, one of the most sickening events to ever transpire in the history of the United States and is a tremendous threat to liberal democracy.
Trump’s ascension to the Office of the President is an unparalleled failure for the American republic, for the U.S. Constitution and for the citizens of this country who are marginalized, disrespected or worse. Trump’s victory is a triumph for those who marginalize, disrespect and propagate hate through a terrifying blend of racism, misogyny, authoritarianism, paranoia, and nativism.
On January 20, 2017, the U.S. will see the end of our first African-American presidency — a presidency that saw innumerable strides made for citizens of all stripes — and we will witness the beginning of what will surely be one of America’s darkest eras.
The man who has now been guaranteed a spot behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office is unquestionably an egotistical charlatan, hell bent on bringing the ideas of xenophobia and white supremacy back to the White House. The most unqualified candidate in U.S. presidential history will be handed a frightening array of tools: a powerful and supportive Congress, a reactionary Supreme Court with a potential for multiple vacancies and the keys to the largest surveillance apparatus of all-time. That’s without even mentioning the collection of nuclear arms that he now presides over, as well as his ability to deport millions of individuals.
He has been endorsed by past and present (and surely future) members of the Ku Klux Klan. He has received the support of the country’s most prominent neo-Nazis and white supremacists. And he is now our President.
With an absolute disregard for minorities, women, the press, prisoners of war, as well as facts and people in general, Trump represents the most dangerous threat to American liberty to ever step into the White House. At the country’s core is the idea of the “melting pot,” in which citizens of all colors, creeds, orientations and beyond can assemble and participate in the democratic process to promote the general welfare of all citizens and the good of the country. Riding the support of white men and women, Trump circumvented a large portion of the population (the majority of it, if the popular vote is believed) and has found himself atop the country’s government, the demagogue-in-chief.
Watching the results tumble in on Tuesday night was like watching a car crash in slow motion. Pundits and polls had been predicting a Clinton victory for weeks, even in the face of seemingly unending controversy. Women of all ages, from as young as 18 to older than 100, turned up to the polls, in the hopes of seeing the first women elected as president. As we say goodbye to our first black president, it seemed like anything was possible.
But suddenly, those once sure victories in states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were gone. And with them, the election. The topics that plagued Clinton throughout the campaign — emails, Benghazi, Bernie Sanders — all seem to pale in comparison to the impending fate of this country.
How did this happen? A certain level of blame must fall on the media, as major outlets neglected to highlight the severe reality of a Trump presidency. Instead, undue attention was paid to emails that were ultimately negligible. An admittal of sexual assault was not enough for the narrative surrounding Trump’s campaign to change. The media treated him like a joke rather than a threat and he used this to his advantage. Now, the media’s right to express themselves and the rights of so many more are at stake.
George Orwell, the polemicist whose ideas seem to have no expiration date, may have summarized the threat best in his 1945 article, ‘Freedom of the Park’.
“The relative freedom which we enjoy depends of public opinion,” he wrote. “The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.”
With his victory, Donald Trump surely feels as though he has received a mandate from the American people, an endorsement of his agenda of hate, prejudice and restriction on civil liberty. A sizeable chunk of the populace elected to him the highest office in the land. As a result, our freedoms are directly in the crosshairs.
On the campaign trail, he threatened nearly every facet of the U.S. Constitution. He promised to violate the First Amendment’s protections for freedom of press and of religion. He promised to violate both the Fourth Amendment’s protections from “unreasonable search and seizures” and the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment.” He encouraged supporters to violate the Fifteenth Amendment which ensures voter rights. Other than promoting the idea that troops move into our homes, he attacked nearly every one of our country’s freedoms.
George Washington referred to the American political ideal as “The Great Experiment.” While there is no disputing that the U.S. has often been a deeply flawed and frustrating country that benefits some more than others, the election of Donald Trump allows for the potential that this Great Experiment finally ends after 227 years.
The U.S. is supposed to allow for the freedom for all marginalized voices to have their say and have a shot at success. Certain institutionalized systems make those kinds of strides incredibly difficult, but the American ideal suggests that minority voices can still have an equal seat at the table. President Trump has made it clear that the table is for himself and his cronies.
White people won Donald Trump this election and white people should feel ashamed of this fact. Over the next four years, anyone who voted for Trump will have to look at any citizen who is of color, who is queer, who has a disability, who is an immigrant, who is not Christian or is otherwise marginalized and reconcile with the fact that they disregarded their safety and livelihood.
The United States of America that we were all taught to love is at risk of disappearing. But it does not have to go away. We must rally together and fight for those who are now at risk. Trump ascended to the office of the presidency on a campaign that threatens to destroy the fundamental values of liberal democracy and freedom. If he follows through, we must fight or risk losing every liberty we hold dear.