America Has Spoken.

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America Has Spoken.

Paulina Maczuga, Features Editor

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On November 8th, 2016, Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States of America. The Republicans won the U.S. Senate, and the Republicans won the U.S. House. I could throw out more facts, but the core of my message has less to do with statistics and more to do with the stability of our very own nation. It’s what has been on nearly every U.S. citizen’s mind this week: What is going to happen to our country and to the people in it? While I far from possess the capability to answer such a profound question, I can tell you this: it starts with how our political views have falsely taken over as a holistic reflection of our character.

First and foremost, I’d like to start out by saying that while I wish I could eloquently speak on the topic of our recent election, I am not completely educated on politics. As an 18-year-old high schooler with a load of AP classes and extracurriculars, I’ve done my best to understand this election, but my time is consumed by other things that take immediate precedence. My takeaways from the 2016 election results are not manifested by some superior knowledge. It’s important to take note that I have a developing perspective as a young student. What I have to say isn’t perfect, but it is something, and it is valid.

Most importantly, it should be understood that we are all different people. We are all shaped by our childhood, environment, gender identity, culture, and more. Each and every one of us is influenced to a different degree by a specific force based on what has made us who we are to this day. An issue may hit harder on some than it does on others, whether it be LGBTQ+ rights, immigration laws, or economic policy. There is always a spectrum of reaction that is determined by our upbringing, by how we have lived, and what we have taken out of it. This is the way humanity has evolved, and this is what humanity is to this day.

With that said, I’d like to bring up a metaphor. A lot of what has been going on in our nation, primarily on social media, is a figurative adaptation of Newton’s Cradle. If you don’t know what that is, it’s the system of five metal balls in a row suspended by wires. When a ball on one end of the cradle is pulled away from the others and then released, it strikes the next ball in the cradle, which remains motionless. But the ball on the opposite end of the row is thrown into the air, then swings back to strike the other balls, starting the chain reaction again in reverse. To get to the point, either end of Newton’s Cradle can be composed of far-left politics or far-right politics. From either side, liberal or conservative, there are accusations and belittlements thrown out, keeping the chain reaction of cruelty going, swinging it back and forth. Both sides are fueled by each other’s contentions. All through this heated dispute of opinions and values, the middle remains motionless, the people that are not completely conservative and not completely libertarian, and there are clearly more of us than either end. There is no voice or at least not a strong enough voice for those with blended values to express their views. We are stuck in the middle, the group whose perspective is overtaken by harsh generalizations.

In this day and age with the leader of the Republican Party spewing hurtful words and ridiculous phrases, we Republicans, are given an unfair stereotype. If you’re a Republican, you’re a bigot, a racist, and a sexist. You don’t believe in marriage equality. You don’t believe in racial equality. You don’t believe in a woman’s right to choose. You’re extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else. And while it saddens and hurts me that these stereotypes are imposed, it saddens me even more that there are people out there who are the reason that this stereotype exists. Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in some truth. There are some people out there who actually think these things and feel this way. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. Their extremism makes sure we aren’t heard.

You see, when people ask me who I voted for or what my political views are, I’m not quite sure what to say. Honestly, I’m scared to even answer. Personally, leaning towards the Republican Party doesn’t automatically mean I’d vote red. To put it simply, I am conservative but with socially liberal views. I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. But I have other beliefs, too. Yes, I believe in the right to choose – but I’d always hope that unless there is an extreme circumstance, a woman would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken – there are people who don’t need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it. I don’t believe in Obamacare, and I hope there’s a better, revised option for America in the future. Obviously, there are other topics on the table. And while it is okay to disagree on political beliefs and even healthy, it is NOT okay to make snap judgments about me, and I speak for the others who feel the same way. Sharing views with the Republican Party does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump. His words are not my own in any way shape or form. Many Republicans, and I would go as far to say most Republicans, are not the stereotype.

As a figure running for office, I do believe some of Trump’s moves have been irresponsible and frankly rather shameful. I will openly agree with many that Trump has said some disgusting things, some unnecessary and cruel verbiage, and he is forced to be held accountable for his actions and comments. However, in spite of his words and actions, people across the nation still decided to vote for him. Not because they are deplorable human beings, but because the majority of their values aligned with the Republican Party. Let’s be real, most of America wasn’t thrilled with the choices we had in this election. While Trump may not have been the best representative for the Republican Party, he is what we got. Many people wanted change, and I believe that’s the cause for the vote they cast. I believe the majority of people are making a call for change. They are less supporting the character that he animates and more so supporting the idea of radical change.Through his powerful and rather big presence, Trump communicated that he could make it happen. A vote for Trump is not a movement towards accepting the hatred, racism, and homophobia. It is not a signal of internalized racism and discrimination against people of color, women, and the LGBTQ+ community. For many, I believe the vote was a shout for economic growth, a shout for a chance to rebuild the weak parts of America. In my opinion, I’m a little surprised that eighteen-year-olds are allowed to vote, albeit it being the age of legal adulthood. I think that everyone’s voice matters, but ideally speaking, I would put the fate of our political leader into the hands of mature adults who rely on their own hard work to make a living. While we are millennials, the generation of the future, the truth is that we can’t run this country off of liberalism (just as we can’t run it off of discriminative conservatism). I believe it takes an adult in the working world, dealing with wages, taxes, and other formalities, to make an informed and well-rounded decision. Of course, I’m aware this deviates from reality because there is no set age that determines such a characteristic, but I take it as a reasonable point to consider.

Without a doubt, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have their own flaws, and they both carried some baggage into their political campaign. Sadly, their burdens have been thrown onto the shoulders of their very own supporters. In the end, riots aren’t going to solve anything. I see how they can be an expression of disappointment and dismay, and this country was founded on the freedom of speech and belief; however, at this point, with excessive acts like burning our own American flag, you might as well not even stand for this country. I’ve seen many narrow-minded and berating posts accusing Republican Party supporters by labeling them with the character of their political choice. I’ve seen profanities and expletives thrown around, and I’ve even seen people outright threaten to unfriend people if they supported Donald Trump, whether that be on Facebook or even in real life. There’s no doubt that there are Republican Party supporters who have inappropriately targeted Democratic supporters, but I have seen a heavy influx of hate directed towards GOP supporters after the results of the election. All in all, too many people have simply crossed the line. The Republican and Democratic Party have been historical rivals, but we don’t have to become our own enemies. As President Obama formerly put, “Before we are Democrats, before we are Republicans, we are Americans.” It is so vital to remember that political views only make up part of our identity.

No matter the outcome, one side would inevitably suffer the consequences of loss. There have been discrepancies between the popular vote and the Electoral College, deeming the latter corrupt, when millions of votes feel disregarded to a mere 270 in comparison. There have been disputes over the validity and purpose of this system, questioning how it even works and why it was instilled in the face of democracy for all people. There have been heavy debates over the importance of third party votes, arguing that the United States has a broken Two Party system and blaming others for “putting their vote to waste.” There have even been trends such as “Not My President.” All of these issues are important, and I find it appropriate to acknowledge them, but I will readily admit that I’m not completely knowledgeable on these subjects, and I can’t speak well enough on behalf of them. There are even more issues to consider: Gun Control, Health Care, Civil Liberties, National Security, Education, Medicare and Social Security. I only hope to further educate myself with time, and I urge others to do so as well. Adopting a greater understanding of how America functions can only be a step forward towards a more informed public. When knowledge is put into practice, people can do great things.

Before I finish what I have to say, I’d like to quote the classic To Kill a Mockingbird: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” As a heterosexual female with a European ethnicity, I will never truly understand how it feels to be Muslim, how it feels to be of Hispanic heritage, or how it feels to identify with LGBTQ+. I will never truly understand what Trump’s words feel like from that angle and what an impact it must have. I do understand your anger, your disappointment, your disgust for being hit with a slew of demeaning words and potential threats. I understand if that is more than enough to push you away, and I respect anybody’s decision to vote blue. Everyone deserves to be loved, and I believe there’s still a beacon of hope for minorities. Never lose hope. Let your faith be bigger than your fear, for how strong you stand is what makes you.

Whether you agree or disagree with the outcome, all the gloating and demeaning can’t last forever. Our fate is not determined, and our future is not doomed. I’m not quite sure how this country heals after such a split in the vote, but I remember how passionate all the people that voted were. I would hold onto your passion and look forward. Don’t lash out or make blanket statements. We, as individuals, have placed hope and even how we view others and their self-worth in the candidate of our choosing. And when that said candidate loses, we feel as if we’ve lost part of our own identity. We feel as if our very own country has rejected our values and therefore rejected us. We feel marginalized and invisible under the boot of our opponent. But that says more about us than it says about the election; we’ve misplaced our sense of hope. As of now, we’re unsure of what is going to happen with our country. But we can hope for the best, hope for progress, and a greater unity among others. We witnessed a monumental turn of events in U.S. history: Trump will be the 45th president of the United States. This is our reality, and this is our future. In this case, ignorance is certainly not bliss; it is what contributes to a greater chaos of emotion. In spite of all our differences, we must make an effort to peacefully disagree and work together. Trump does not have the power to mold our families; it is our flat-out responsibility. Should those in the public spotlight conduct themselves in an honorable fashion with utmost integrity? Absolutely. However, your success as a family and our success as a nation depends not on what solely happens inside the White House, but on what happens inside your own house. Don’t choose hate over love.

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