Two days after Election Day, I was told by a complete stranger whom I have yet to even see before at La Plata—his camouflage getup did little in helping either—to “go back to [my] [expletive deleted] country.” I was on my way to class, not saying a word. He had been talking to his friend (about the election, I presume) when my invasive immigrant face caught his eye and was apparently enough of a stimulus for him to deliver his Judgment. At the very least, for future reference, I am from the Philippines, which mind you, has already seen its fair share of unemployment, corruption, and shady leaders, so I assure you that your oh-so righteous command for me to suddenly pack up my bags is rather futile.
It’s safe to say that tensions have been running high following the events of November 8th: Donald J. Trump has been chosen by the Electoral College as the 45th Chief Executive in U.S. history.
I’d be lying if I said I weren’t disappointed, but I was, but not without good reason.
I remember staying up until 2 A.M. on Election Night, hoping for some sort of miracle to happen. When I heard the final results, my heart immediately ached, but not because I was a fervid Clinton supporter. It ached for the immigrants, for the LGBT+ community, for women out there, who may be facing a radical change in the years to come. Although it’s not a guarantee and some Republican backers may be already lining up to lampoon me, let me, at the very least, give some explanations behind why the results have given me cause to worry.
The United States was and still is a country powered by immigrants, so much so that the government recognizes no official language. As many are aware, we have been branded as a “beacon of opportunity” and a “cultural melting pot” where people of different nationalities, creeds, and backgrounds can come together and unite, holding steadfastly to the country’s name and principles.
We forget that historically, the waves of Irish and Germans who moved to the United States were once counted among immigrant groups and also received the same xenophobic backlash that many modern-day immigrants have had to confront. We forget the economic impact that each wide-eyed hopeful adds when they get off the airport, ready to start a new life here. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “immigrants comprise 16% of the labor force” despite taking up only 13% of the population. Annually, the presence of immigrants, both legal and illegal, has increased the GDP by an estimated 11%. These statistics do not come close in underscoring the progress that they have catalyzed with their advancements in science and technology—Einstein, Fermi, and Brin being notable examples. No matter how you slice it, time and time again, immigrants get the job done.
However, with President-Elect Trump condemning undocumented Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “bringing drugs and crime” (which is statistically incorrect) as well as putting a stop to a program that gives economic work opportunities to those who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children, these Dreamers—“[undocumented immigrants] given protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program” —will unfortunately have to keep dreaming. Part of Trump’s “Ten Point Plan to Put America First” calls for the “end of sanctuary cities” and the forced return of refugees to the same countries that were unstable and dangerous enough to provoke their exodus to the oft-considered safe haven that is the United States. For a country brought up by the painstaking challenges and the endless contributions of immigrants, it would be hypocritical for the stars and stripes to endorse telling immigrants to “go back to [their] [expletive deleted] [countries]” and refusing to grant them life-changing financial opportunities.
Immigrants are not the only people subject to change within the Trump Administration. Just last year, Obergefell v. Hodges, a landmark court case, had granted that same-sex couples had the fundamental right to marry in the entire United States. A step in the right direction towards acceptance, the LGBT+ community was ecstatic at the results, but the 45th soon-to-be Chief Executive remarks that “same-sex marriage is an issue that should have been decided by the states,” hinting at his lukewarm backing and indirect disagreement at the blanket Supreme Court decision last June. This hypothetically proposed decision by the states would still have parts of the United States denying basic civil liberties to residents of the United States, a populace of whose interests he has prioritized first.
He may have supported the community in his speech—although anyone can wave a rainbow flag and back it up with little to no substance—but that does not undermine his capricious viewpoint, changing only to pander to the largest demographic available. It also does not forgive the harsh reality that Mike Pence, his running mate, actively advocates for many anti-LGBT+ programs and laws, which includes, but is not limited to opposing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and diverting funds for HIV prevention to conversion therapy, the modern-day equivalent of privately funded torture; several associations have condemned the practice of the commonly euphemized “reparation therapy” (implying there were something wrong with them to begin with) such as the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. On November 8th, America chose to elect somebody willing to actively codify discrimination.
Pence is sadly not the only one. There has already been talk of newly elected delegates in Congress supporting Trump’s future “First Amendment Defense Act,” which allegedly “protects the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths.” This sugarcoated legislation hides a more chilling message: that institutions can deny services and opportunities to members of the LGBT+ community solely on the basis of protecting their religion. How utterly terrifying.
In the judicial branch, although the five Supreme Court justices that ruled in support of marriage equality are still on the court, there is currently a vacant spot, and two of the aforementioned justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony Kennedy, are around the retirement age. As Trump’s potentially long-lasting effect as President, his appointment of justices on the Supreme Court, should they need more than the sole vacant spot, could redefine the sociopolitical reforms of the upcoming generation.
This change in the Supreme Court would also negatively impact a demographic that Trump has previously degraded with his lewd comments: women. Seeing as Obergefell v. Hodges was only recently passed, it is a much harder target to tear down, but the Trump Administration has its sights on Roe v. Wade, a court case from the 1970s that ensured a woman’s right to have an abortion. An extremely divisive topic, abortion is often a talking point in a candidate’s campaign, and Trump has indicated his pro-life stance. The President-Elect has reinforced his statement that he will “name a Supreme Court justice who [opposes] abortion rights” and will readily attack the twentieth-century court case. Under his administration, rape and declining health are one of the few requirements for women to apply for abortion nationally. Many women (and men) are enraged by and condemn Trump’s prospective decision: women would then have to go to another state that allows abortion should their state outlaw the practice.
Trump’s behavior leading up to the election does little to help in the fight for women’s equality. His sexist comments—insults to Carly Fiorina and crass sexually charged comments about women, for example—sets a disgusting and disturbing example for the nation. His win does not overlook the numerous degrading comments that he has amassed over the years. If the very President is hard-pressed in respecting half our country, why is it even remotely surprising that people have questioned his character?
Obviously, we cannot judge a candidate by solely on his/her proposed social policies, but in my opinion, they provide the most fundamental framework to any political and economic propositions. Furthermore, they establish priorities: what the candidate values and does not value. The individual is the most rudimentary aspect of an entire society, so it seems natural and pragmatic to ensure the aforementioned groups’ basic liberties and their equality in order for them to more effectively contribute to the whole; anything otherwise, to me, is counterproductive to the nation’s growth. Brushing that aside, treating everybody with respect regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and identity, and other characteristics is just the mark of a decent human being.
But this is only the beginning. We still have to wait for the year to pass and for January to rear its head. Whether you are waiting with open arms or with terrified eyes does not change the results, but we should not let the results change us. Sure, you can become more well-versed in politics and be an informed voter the next time any election or referendum, be it local, state, or national, comes around, but that shouldn’t give us an excuse to turn on each other based on for whom people voted.
In just the last week alone, there have been several instances of hate crimes and violence that were born out of the clash of political ideologies. In Chicago, a video was taken of a 49-year old man being attacked by a group for showing his support for the Republican nominee. Meanwhile, across the country, there have been threats against minority groups such as Muslims that claim that they do not belong in “Trump’s America”. The war between partisan ideals has instilled in America a sentiment of hatred within its inhabitants, leaving us even more fractured than we were.
Ignorance is one hell of a drug, and from my diagnosis, Uncle Sam will keel over from an overdose.
I’m worried. I’m worried about Donald Trump’s mercurial nature and lack of experience. I’m worried that we might be ushering in an era of the “Not-So United States” given our recent treatment of one another. I’m worried that some groups in America might face even more discrimination in the coming years. I’m worried that acceptance and understanding will soon become little more than a pipe dream.
However, this is not some clarion call to arms for Democrats to stampede and steal the White House, quite the contrary. This is the hand that America has dealt, and we need to play this game with the cards that we have. Rather, this is a challenge to the Trump administration: prove me wrong. Prove to those “damn liberals” and “stupid Democrats” that we are moving forward rather than doing the opposite, for if you truly feel affronted by the countless protests to the results, take the high road and show humility. Put my fears to rest. Live up to the name of the very nation you are now leading. Right now, the world has its eyes on you. Prove me—and the country—wrong.
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