In a couple of months I will be working for a government led by Donald Trump. Now I realize that I took for granted the fact that we have a democratic president who has even praised our CEO and had him in the White House, something I could never see Trump doing, especially with an organization as liberal as College Possible. I’ve started thinking about my work in a different way, not that I’m any less passionate about what I’m doing, but that I am now constantly fearful for my students. As a white man, I won’t pretend like the Trump presidency will affect me in any significant way like it would a person of literally any other identity. But over the past year and counting, I have come to deeply care for and respect nearly 300 individuals to whom I was assigned to. I have undocumented students. Students with undocumented parents. Refugee students who are Muslim. Black students, LGBTQ students, Asian students, the list goes on. And I wonder how I can even begin to support them, especially because I can’t discuss politics with them. Trump’s victim count has already started; supporters are becoming bolder and directly oppressing people of color, women, and Muslims, both physically and verbally. Another coach was telling me that one of her students, a trans black woman, is leaving her dream school in rural Wisconsin because she feels unsafe in the area, although the college is extremely liberal and open-minded. The overt oppression is just the beginning. Everything from civil war to World War III to a second Great Depression has crossed my mind for the consequences of a Trump presidency.
The question on everyone’s minds is how we could let this happen. As I was watching the election results with a group of friends, as the map continued to turn red state after state, some of us were thinking aloud: “I didn’t prepare for this. I never thought of it as a possibility that he could win.” It had crossed my mind, but obviously I was in denial like the rest of us. I looked at election results from 2012 to compare the maps from when Obama beat Romney to now. Specifically on my mind were Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire, states that were won by Trump by extremely narrow margins. In each of those states in 2012, Obama won by a few points. Looking at this year’s election, third-party voting in these states that had clearly been democratic in recent years was up a couple of points. A couple of really significant points. If the voters in these states were traditionally democratic, one would assume they would have voted democratic for a candidate like Bernie Sanders. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Hillary Clinton lost by an extremely small margin to Trump, a margin that could have been filled by third-party voters. I know that many third-party voters were republican. I know that I’m assuming a lot. And I know that all I’m doing is playing the blame game and it’s not entirely justified. But this wasn’t a normal election. I can’t help but feel this was NOT the election to make a statement.
I’m not looking forward to how the American people are about to treat each other. There will be – and there already has been – violence. There will be bigotry. A resurgence of hate groups will undoubtedly occur. I don’t want to see people I know and love to feel unsafe walking down the street because of the color of their skin or their gender. I don’t want my nephew to be born into a society where sexism is the norm (not that I don’t have faith in my sister and brother-in-law in teaching him otherwise). But the only way to combat all of this is to work together. Clinton voters, Trump voters, third-party voters, and nonvoters. If Love Trumps Hate, then now is our time to prove it. The entire world is watching us. Last night my Chilean host mom messaged me to talk about the election and how surprised she was about it. We’re setting an example for the world, and we need to start setting a good one, with peace being the one and only goal. We need to emulate peace, reason, and friendship. For all of my friends who identify with an oppressed group, I am always going to be on your side. I will stand for you, I will support you, and I will love you. We have a long four years ahead of us. Let’s make it count.