After months of campaigning, begging people to get out to vote and canvassing college campuses, it’s finally over. The 2016 election has concluded. For better or worse, America has elected her next president and his name is Donald J. Trump.
It’s certainly been a crazy ride for Trump and the rest of America. From day one, the presidential candidate was written off by media outlets and pollsters as a joke. Someone to laugh at with his outrageous hair and lack of political experience. Even on election night, columnists such as Will Drabold claimed Trump’s nomination gave “Hillary a clear edge on Election Day,” and that there wasn’t even a question as to who the next president would be.
Clearly, the experts were wrong every step of the way; yet, where did they make their mistakes come election night? Forbes reports that it was the “hidden white vote” centered in the American heartland that pushed the election in Trump’s favor. White middle-class workers of the Rust Belt states in particular, although historically Democratic, turned out to be crucial for Trump’s win.
Even the millennial demographic didn’t respond the way experts and pollsters predicted. While admittedly not 100 percent reliable, exit polls nevertheless showed only 55 percent of voters ages 18-29 actually voted for Hillary Clinton. While this is more than the 37 percent who voted for Donald Trump, it’s still a surprising statistic considering experts believed the young vote was completely lost for Trump.
Now in the wake of the election, protests are taking place across the country and videos of assault are going viral. There's no doubt that this election has left America more splintered than ever before. However, what exactly does this mean for the country and how does it move forward? Lacking a crystal ball, Fresh U can hardly give a definitive answer to these questions. However, these college students were more than happy to share some insight on the issue.
UNC-Chapel Hill freshman Waverly Leonard had plenty to say about the outcome of this election.
I’m terrified and saddened by the results of this election. Where do I begin?
Waverly explained that even though she hardly believes all Trump supporters are racist, misogynist or homophobic, she nevertheless feels that many of them choose to disregard Trump’s blatant racism and mockery. As such, she criticizes white Trump voters for lacking compassion, curiosity and the will to understand a viewpoint that doesn’t match their own.
According to Waverly, it’s because his supporters don’t bother to question anything Trump says and they just accept everything as the truth. She specifically cited concerns regarding Trump's promise to "take away our civil liberties" and the infamous Access Hollywood video. Waverly believes their continued support just shows that Trump supporters have allowed themselves to be ruled by fear and resentment.
I’ve been living in an imaginary world, one where women and other minorities have made huge strides in the civil rights arena; I now realize that a vast majority of the country just doesn’t care about these issues.
Additionally, Waverly highlighted worry about the legislation a Republican-controlled White House, Senate and House of Representatives could pass. Waverly explained that it's become remarkably clear to her that the vast majority of the country simply doesn't care about civil issues. This, she said, is because so many of her concerns are simply written off as "PC sensitivity," a blanket which she believes right-wing reactionaries use to dismiss her fears.
Every time I think about this new reality my heart sinks a little bit. I’m frustrated because people are telling us to stop protesting and accept that he is our President. The right to peaceful protest is guaranteed under our First Amendment, and it’s so important to me that we don’t just quiet down because we’re inconveniencing those who voted for him.
Next, Fresh U interviewed with Devon Witek, a senior economics major at UNC-Chapel Hill. As a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative and social independent, Devon explained that she was more pleased with the "not Hillary" result rather than actually having Trump as president. As such, Devon stated she was overall pretty happy with the election results, although she certainly was surprised.
Simply put, Devon explained she believes Trump's victory could largely be attributed to the genuine anger fueled by Obama's divisiveness and the fact the middle/lower classes never received the change they were promised for the last 8 years.
If Trump can deliver remains to be seen, but I think most people (myself included) feel failed by the Democrats.
All in all, Devon feels there is hope for the future of America. She is optimistic that Trump's presidency will lead to greater economic freedom and reduce the entitlement mentality, which she believes has greatly affected the country's current situation.
It remains to be seen obviously, but I think Congress will really be in charge of the wheel and they'll live vicariously through Trump.
Third, Fresh U spoke with Maya Ungar, a freshman at the University of Arkansas. According to Maya, even with Congress controlled by the Republicans, Trump's policies themselves won't actually be very effective. This is simply due to the fact that the Republican Party itself is too divided. However, she believes that his pick for the Supreme Court will be vitally important. His decision could swing the court conservative for a long time, she explained.
Most important, Maya said, is the resulting "Trump effect" of this election.
I think that in the coming weeks we will definitely see an increase in xenophobia. His election justified their views in their eyes, and those that were quiet before will come crawling out of the woodworks.
Another proud Tar Heel at UNC-Chapel Hill, Blythe Gulley was also willing to share her sentiments regarding the election. Blythe explained that her biggest concerns center around Trump's approach to policy. His tendency to change his mind and backtrack leaves him particularly vulnerable to the influences of powerful conservatives, she said. In the end, the next four years will completely depend on who he surrounds himself with.
In light of this, Blythe hopes that Trump will avoid the influence of men like Rudy Giuliani who she fears will simply inject more paranoia in the government. Likewise, she believes it's time that Democrats such as Chuck Schumer stood up against the GOP to preserve everything Obama fought for during his eight years of presidency.
We're in for a long battle over policy that, frankly, Trump hasn't even revealed yet. I am fearful that his plan for his first 100 days in office will wreak havoc upon the government. Currently, my one hope rests on the glimmer of reconciliation shown by Trump in his acceptance speech.
Last but not least, Fresh U interviewed UNC-Chapel Hill junior Shan Ye. As a way of introduction, Shan first explained that he was an extremely vocal Trump supporter. However, he believes Trump's impact will be more on the culture of American society rather than her laws. According to Shan, people on both the left and the right have been using labels to silence any opposing opinion. This results in attacks against character rather than debates focusing on facts and logic.
If you're pro-life, liberals are too quick to jump the gun and call you a sexist. Yet, if you support a higher minimum wage or more welfare, you'll have conservatives calling you a communist too.
While he yields that this tactic is used by both sides, Shan believes it has been predominantly used by the left in this election. It's clearly evident that the full force of the liberal machine, including most of the mainstream media, was used against Trump, Shan stated. They labeled him everything in the book - racist, misogynist, homophobic, etc. - but they never discussed his policies or brought any facts to the table.
I think electing Trump sends a message to the country that this unsubstantiated character defamation will not be tolerated anymore. I think this election proves that good, decent, everyday Americans are tired of being labeled racist, xenophobic, homophobic or transphobic when they’re not. Electing Trump was a means of sending that message.
All in all, like the rest of America, it seems college students are divided about the election results. Some are more than thrilled about the new president-elect, whereas others are truly terrified about what's to come. Yet, in the end, it's important that we don't let politics divide us any more than it already has. The people you knew before the election haven't changed - friends are still friends, and family is still family.
The election is over and it's now time for the country to heal. We cannot wait for the same politicians who lead us into this mess to get us out. It can only start with us.
Lead image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons