The United States of America has elected Donald Trump as its 45th president. For many, this was a blow they did not see coming. Many did not sleep Tuesday. Wednesday, we were tired. And many are scared.
We did not prepare for this, although we should have. We were too optimistic in our view of America, that its citizens would not elect a man with no political experience, with a history of fraud, who has made discriminatory comments toward women, people with disabilities and people of color. America elected a fear-mongerer. America elected a man who wants to deport undocumented immigrants, who wants to build a wall between us and Mexico, who wants to disband universal healthcare.
We probably should have seen it coming.
But there are reasons we didn’t. One of the big ones is the liberal media. From the beginning, coverage of Trump was sensationalized, condescending and his exploits were treated as jokes. The media was blindsided with a bias so deep they didn’t realize they were missing half the country. Think about it. The media fed us statistics and left-wing headlines that we bought, because it was what we wanted to hear. Our Facebook timelines are filled with similar content to what we put out Ñ we were seeing exactly what we wanted to, thus giving us a false sense of hope. We now know better.
The uprising that Trump has inspired within the last year has rippled throughout our country; we saw coverage of Trump rallies filled with hate speech, where mostly white men and women gather to hear Trump speak, violently, and we watched how much they liked it. We watched them cover social media in hashtags, we watched the KKK endorse Trump, we watched Trump speak about sexually assaulting women as if it were no big deal, over and over and over, on news stations everywhere, for a whole year.
And yet, we, in our liberal arts college campus in blue Illinois, did not think that the majority of the country could possibly feel this way. That the majority of the country could get behind a candidate that has said such terrible things, that has a tax plan to give more breaks to the rich and mega-corporations, who would love to take away a woman’s right to choose. We couldn’t even imagine people sweeping all those things under the rug in the name of “Anybody but Hillary.”
It happened. What do we do now?
We know that we cannot give up hope, that we cannot stop fighting, but we also know that we are coming from a place of privilege. Our entire editorial board is white, female and cisgender. We know the pain that people of marginalized identities are experiencing now goes deeper than we can understand. But we can be there as allies.
At the student rally, that message was clear. It is not enough for people with privilege to acknowledge their privilege. You can get “woke,” but then you have to do something about it.
We have to work to educate the rest of the country without dismissing conservatives, as happened this election. It will just cause the rift in our country to deepen, and soon enough, we won’t be able to mend it.
Take solace in the fact that mere hours after the election was called, before the sun rose, an anti-Trump rally had been planned and posters were already being taped onto walls. Students saw what was happening and took action. This is what we must continue to do for the rest of Trump’s presidency. It will be exhausting, it will be saddening, but there is no other way around it. We cannot simply continue to rely on Facebook posts to make a change. Our voices are enough, but not behind a computer screen.
We are fortunate enough to spend 30 weeks out of our year in a community that, for the most part, celebrates the very identities that Trump despises. We must band together. Become a force to be reckoned with. We have the ability.