On Nov. 8, 2016, Donald Trump shocked the world. Defying the expectations of pollsters, news networks, Democrats, and Republicans alike, Trump clinched the presidency.
The day after the election, I arrived at my school to find a subdued student body. Some students hid their happiness, while a few flaunted it; most were paralyzed by shock, many spoke out angrily, and others cried.
While we all knew a Trump presidency was possible, the majority of my small Brentwood School community never believed it could actually become a reality. Why had we never seriously considered this possibility?
It could be partly that we were misled by the polls and pundits. But, our obliviousness could also have resulted from being stuck in a liberal echo chamber.
I live in such an overwhelmingly liberal community that it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that Brentwood’s political biases are representative of our entire nation. However, the results of this election prove this is simply not true.
Although he did not win the popular vote, Trump and his ideologies were embraced by much of our nation. According to Business Insider, Trump garnered the votes of 53 percent of our nation’s men and 42 percent of our nation’s women. He won the votes 58 percent of our nation’s white people, 8 percent of blacks, 29 percent of Hispanics, and 29 percent of Asians.
Trump’s supporters are not far and few. While they may represent a minority of students at Brentwood School, and at schools across Los Angeles, discounting each other’s voices and assuming liberal supremacy is a core perpetrator of the estrangement and neglect felt by too many Americans. It is this same ignorant alienation and separation that paved the way for Trump’s victory in the first place.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump was ridiculed and derided. His lack of governmental, foreign policy, or military experience made many view his candidacy as laughable.
While I may not believe that this mockery was unfounded or misplaced, this type of ubiquitous disdain only served to further alienate Trump’s many supporters, deepening divides in an already exceedingly polarized nation.
Most failed to notice and count the multitude of people who feel unheard, underrepresented, fed up with the status quo, and downright angry. That is not to excuse or tolerate those who have embraced reprehensible racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and ableist comments in the wake of Trump’s campaign. It is, however, to acknowledge that, whether a product of frustration with government stagnation and ineffectivity, unemployment, or an increasingly “politically correct” world, voters felt abandoned by our current system.
With a promise to bring back jobs and “Make America Great Again,” Trump gave voice to their pain. He garnered widespread support from many of these disaffected populations, groups that liberals, regrettably, neglected to address or acknowledge. Democrats’ lack of response to rising discontent in red states led to confusion and bewilderment in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s loss. Indeed, many were blindsided by the election’s results, having misread the cues and ignored the pleas of our fellow Americans.
Critics have embraced #NotMyPresident, but like it or not, Donald J. Trump is undeniably our elected president. And while citizens should take to the streets to protest and condemn every action perceived as discriminatory or unjust, it would be a mistake to, once again, underestimate the impact of Trump’s messages.
Instead, stopping to reach out, connect with, and learn from fellow students and fellow Americans who see the world differently is not just a political strategy meant for the next election cycle; it is a practice that, if done right, might actually make America great again.
We need to burst the bubble and acknowledge voices other than our own.