On November 9, 2016, what started out as a joke turned into reality and Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States of America. Just uttering those words — "Donald Trump" and "president" — too close together is enough to send a collective chill down many spines. How many? About 59,814,018. In an anomaly that hasn’t been seen since 2000, Mr. Trump — the victor — received fewer votes than his rival. When that happens, the president is labeled an “Unpopular President.” Unpopular or not, come January 20 of next year, Donald Trump, after a campaign of unprecedented slander and vulgarity, will become the 45th President of the United States of America.
This election was like no other in modern history. The reaction from the anti-Trump community was lit, to say the least. Reactions ranged from angry to sad and even mournful — with many on social media altering President Regan’s famous phrase “It’s morning in America” to “It’s mourning in America.” And it felt that way. Walking around many U.S. cities this morning — the quite mournful feeling was palpable. The question for us now is this: Where do we go from here?
Stand by Our New President?
For some it’s simple: Stand by our new president. Sounds like something right out of a Hallmark card. But for those of us in the Black and brown community, it’s not that simple — not by a longshot. This is a man who used vilifying Latinos as a platform, a person who used the veil of “law and order” to throw salt in the Black Lives Matter movement's game. A man who, when asked a question by a Black man during a debate immediately started talking about how bad the “inner city” is— as if all African-Americans lived there. Trump has used stereotypes and bigotry to fuel the fire of fear encouraging his electorate. We simply cannot stand by that. There are those that say that Trump was merely a “character” putting on a front just to get past the GOP radical litmus test. These people reassure our community that the more extreme of Trump’s extremes are just chicanery — they tell us he is a welcoming liberal at heart. Please forgive us if we fail to see the softer side of Trump. The bottom line: We must stand with our president when he stands by us. It’s a mutual thing. If President Trump decides to ditch the racist rhetoric and instead seek an inclusive style of leadership, then we can talk about standing by our new president. But sitting in the Oval Office puts the burden of leadership on the president. So, for us to stand with Trump, he’ll have to stand with us.
Mobilize the Next Generation of Young Voters
One of the few shining spots of this election was the fact that the young people of this country came out and participated. Most young people ended up voting for Secretary Clinton. A piece by USA Today showed that 18- to 30-year-old’s overwhelmingly voted Democrat. More young voters are denying the politics of hate and are going toward a more inclusive democratic message. We as a community must mobilize this. We also need to speak with the next-next generation (those who will be voting in their first election next time out). Many American children were terrified of Trump, particularly the children of immigrants. These children today are worried and wonder if the new president will send their parents away. We must keep these young Americans informed and enthused. How do we do this?
Voting in Midterm Elections Matters
This summer, former President Bill Clinton was asked by Stephen Colbert why do Democrats do well in the race for the White House but lose the houses of Congress. President Clinton’s answer? “Because Democrats only think presidential elections matter and Republicans know that all elections matter.” Midterm elections are just as important as presidential elections. Sometimes even more, depending on the current cycle. The president is not a king or queen. He or she cannot do anything or everything they want. Presidents must, by law, work with Congress. Obamacare was only able to become law when the Democrats still controlled the senate. After the Republicans gained both houses of Congress, most of the president’s second term agenda fell by the wayside, including nominating and replacing a Supreme Court Justice. As of now, President-Elect Trump has a Republican congress. Now whether the elephant on their lapels means they will agree more than they disagree remains to be seen. If enough in the Black and brown community come out and vote in the 2018 midterms, we could give Trump the opposition he may need or a good reason to be more progressive, but we must get out there. Minority participation in this election could have been better. We can’t stay home and expect things to go our way.
This historic election has many people feeling many ways, but in our community, the feeling is almost mutual — one of sadness and anger. These are just a few suggestions on where we can go from here. Keep talking and keep informed.
(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)