By: Steven Goodman – Mechanical Engineering, Fifth Year
Well, Election Day has come and gone. Leading up to it, many people said they would “Be happy when it’s over.” The sad truth, though, is that this election was unlike any other. It’s hard to simply accept the fact that your candidate lost and move on like the 2012 election.
In that election, if Mitt Romney had won (I use him as an example since I didn’t vote for him), I would have been disappointed, but ultimately made it through because he was a level-headed, respectable human being.
That is not the case in this election with Donald Trump.
The United States has voted for an immensely unqualified man, who has been openly supported by the KKK (by the way, our first black president has to walk the man with that endorsement through the White House), called to ban all Muslims entering the country, and openly bragged about sexually assaulting multiple women. Then there’s his ultra-queerphobic VP, Mike Pence, but that’s an issue for another time.
I first tuned in to see the voting results around 8 p.m. on election night. As the night went on, and Donald Trump continued to pull ahead, I was initially shocked. But, the more and more I thought about it, the less surprised I was by this outcome.
We live in a country where many individuals’ core beliefs are so entrenched in racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia, that is becomes nearly impossible to see “Make America Great Again” and “Make America White Again” as anything other than synonymous.
If anything, this is why Trump won America’s vote: because he appealed to the white men in this country who, for whatever sick reason, believe they have been oppressed. Who believe they are better than anyone and everyone else.
Looking at our history, it’s fairly easy to see why that might be the case.
First, we come over on ships from Europe and declare this our land by force, slaughtering the Native Americans who stood in our way. Refusing to even grant them citizenship until 1924, and some states refusing to allow them to vote until 1957.
Continuing with the white supremacist ideals, enslavement of black men and women was a staple of American society for centuries, starting long before we became an independent nation. Then continuing with segregation post-Civil War, finally ending legalized segregation in 1964. When the legal discrimination of individuals based on their skin color has only been over for 50 years, those ideas don’t simply disappear. They remain a major part of the culture at large.
Then there’s the fact that women in the U.S. have only been able to vote 96 years; not to mention the frequent barrage of daily sexism and misogyny that has really come to light in this election. More often than any other candidate, criticisms of Hillary Clinton stemmed from her sex, rather than of her policy. She underwent a level of scrutiny that, frankly, would not have occurred if she were male.
We tried to keep it a secret, but Trump let our racist, misogynist, xenophobic secret out of the bag. Of course, it wasn’t really that hard to find if you looked closely enough.
When you consider all of this, it’s not hard to see why Trump won. Despite our public appearance, the U.S. — at its core — prides itself on being a society run by white men. It’s almost as if — to paraphrase one Tweet I saw — eight years of a black president, followed by our first female president would have been too much for white men to handle. It would have shaken them too much.
And as disappointed — and scared, a new emotion I’ve never felt tied to an election — as I am by Trump winning, it made terrifying sense the more I thought about it. With all of this history, it’s not hard to see how one of the most qualified, experienced, powerful women in the U.S. could lose to a completely unqualified white man who brags about all the power he possesses.
Be safe out there.