I am not American. I have never even been to America. My perception of America is based on media out-lets, and Twitter accounts of people whom I admire, which happen to be American. Everything I know about the US is derived from the Internet, from articles posted by VICE or VOX, from memes posted on Facebook and from sketches on SNL. I have remained quite silent on the matter of the presidential election over the past couple months. I quietly laughed along with everyone when a new article about Trump’s hatred for Muslims, or his plans to build a wall appeared online. I gently brushed these ideas off as farce bigotry from a man that knew as much about American politics as I did. However, this morning, I found out that Donald Trump is going to be the next president of the United States. That’s not a sentence that I ever thought I would have to write, or speak aloud. I didn’t quite believe it when I first read it, and I’m sure most of you didn’t either. In the wake of Trump’s election, my initial fear was the thought of the country Trump could create in his presidency. However, now, my fears lie in the country that voluntarily elected him.
I never stated publicly my support for Clinton, because in all honesty, I was never sure if I really did support her. I was for Sanders originally, as most people my age were. Yet, when it came down to it, Clinton VS Trump, I would have chosen anyone but him. The problem with the voting system in America is that, oftentimes, you end up with two candidates whose beliefs never fully align with your own. And that’s okay. Elections nowadays are not about choosing the candidate that shares your exact beliefs (because they usually don’t). They are about choosing the candidate who may be easier to lobby, and whose views can, more easily, be changed. The Obama that America elected in 2008 was against same-sex marriage. Kind of shocking, right? He was also the president who hailed the supreme courts ruling in favor of same sex marriage in 2015. The point I’m getting at here is that opinions change, and people learn. Clinton may not have been the perfect democratic candidate for the presidency. She’s made mistakes, but so has everyone. The polarizing difference between Clinton and Trump was that Clinton was eager to serve the people’s best interest, eager to learn, and most importantly, she favored love over hatred, and peace over chaos.
Clinton’s campaign was based on equality, understanding and acceptance. She publicly campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights, and the rights of woman. And America didn’t support her.
Instead, Americans chose Trump. They chose a man whose presidential campaign was fueled by racism, prejudice and bigotry. They chose a man who publicly called Mexican immigrants “rapists”, and suggested building a wall would be the only solution. He, time and time again, used racist comments in his bid to the public. He called for the outright ban on Muslims entering the country. He called for Obama to show his birth certificate. There is countless allegations of sexual assault. There is literally a video of him stating that he could “grab [women] by the p*ssy” if he wanted to. And still, America chose him.
America is going through an incredible period of change right now. For the next four years, Trump will serve as president. American children of Latino, Asian, Muslim, and black backgrounds are going to grow up with this man as their president. And that frightens me. Mike Pence, Trump’s vice president, has publicly opposed same-sex marriage, advocated for conversion therapy and most recently, confirmed that the Trump presidency will roll back Obama’s LGBT rights protections. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I believe America, in recent years, has taken great steps forward in recognizing our rights. Now, I fear that they may be taking giant leaps backwards.
Trump is changing what it will mean to be American. How can a president, in 2016, deny not only rights, but humanity to so many of his citizens. Being a minority anywhere is hard, extremely hard. However, being a minority in America in this day and age? That terrifies me. Trump is a candidate that ran on clearly defined racist views, attracting people with clearly defined racist views. And he won.
My perception of America is clearly not the reality. I believed the media when they portrayed Trump as this monster. I laughed at even the thought of him ascending to the position of president. But he did just that. If this election has done anything, it has uncovered a darkness in America. Maybe people’s beliefs aren’t changing as much as I hoped they were. As Marina Diamandis put it;
All this has done is uncover what people’s beliefs are truthfully at this time in history. Maybe we shouldn’t be so shocked.
Image courtesy of: https://southfront.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/trump.png