Earlier this week, the United States took an enormous step backward. At press time, 29 states voted for a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women, voiced support for committing war crimes, referred to Mexicans as rapists, dismissed climate change as a hoax and supports tightening libel laws to make it harder for newspapers to publish critical articles on him. Donald Trump preyed on the anger of white working-class voters, gave them scapegoats and made hatred and immaturity a legitimate part of political discourse.
Many cried in confusion and desperation when the results came in. The names on the ballots seemed to be not only a choice between two candidates, but a choice between two paths our country could take: one of fear and anger, or one of inclusiveness and diversity. It was a battle over the heart of America. And now many are heartbroken.
Over the summer, I saw the beauty of the United States as I traveled across America with two friends on a cross-country road trip. We heard jazz on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans, saw the mist rise up from the ocean as we drove along the California coast and stood in awe in front of the colossal Crazy Horse in South Dakota. By spending three weeks on the road, I thought I would begin understand what unifies this country that contains so many differences.
On Tuesday, I saw its ugliness. Like many, I had faith in the media, pollsters and political scientists. But most of all, I had faith that the American people would stand up to the bigotry and hatred that Trump’s campaign spread across this country like wildfire. My beliefs were misplaced, and I was wrong.
Part of the reason why Trump is our president is because both sides speak in an echo chamber. Roughly half the country voted for the values this man upholds. Those values fly in the face of many people’s image of America, but it should encourage us to stay strong and push against the divisiveness that made up this election season. Although it may not always be reflected in its actions, the United States should strive for values of equality, liberty and opportunity for all people. This week, we are reminded that we must continue to strive for these values. We are reminded that we must continue to fight for a better country.
William W. Gordon
Editor-in-Chief, The Lafayette