Our worst fears came true last night.
Donald Trump — the arrogant, alt-right, bombastic candidate of hate — will be the 45th President of the United States.
Donald Trump — a man who built his campaign on the rotten foundations of misogyny, bigotry and fear-mongering — will be the next leader of the free world.
We stand solemn today. We stand in both shock and shame as we’ve watched this man grow from a sideshow display of political mockery to our newly elected head of state.
Like countless college students across the nation, we foolishly enclosed ourselves in liberal echo chambers while hundreds of miles away in gaping pockets across America, the voices of mostly white, working-class males, screamed out “Trump, Trump, Trump!”
In our attempt to celebrate progress, promote diversity and encapsulate the shifting demographics of America, we neglected to acknowledge a sect of the American electorate that felt both disenfranchised by these very trends and excluded by the institutions that promote them.
This election made one thing frightfully clear: There exists two Americas, and only one of them was getting our attention.
We ignored the demographic that whole-heartedly believed in a country that was broken, that needed barriers to be fortified, that needed to turn away diversity to achieve stability. That is the population of people that bought into Trump’s disgusting rhetoric.
They were invisible from the media, invisible from the polls, and in their eyes, invisible to the institutions in Washington.Trump gave them a voice, a scapegoat and most importantly, visibility.
Ironically, these legions of Trump supporters saw themselves disintegrating from the cloth of modern America; but perhaps, it is now the progressive, diverse body of America that has little place.
As a member of the press corps, we cannot help but feel we are partially to blame. We were complicit in the rose-colored lenses of “unity” and “togetherness” that the Clinton campaign projected and the idea that Trump’s America did not and would not ever exist.
Countless veritable publications covered Trump, the bombastic celebrity, for his widely publicized gaffes and his petulant social media tirades. They argued that his ideology attacked marginalized people — women, people of color, religious groups, immigrants, the LGBT community — and if elected, the America we know from history books would crumble. And this, though true, failed to fully address the people on the other side. In their vision for America’s prosperity, the white, working-class man — the poster child of the Trump voting bloc — does not prioritize the interests of traditionally marginalized people. Legions of silent Trump supporters whom he represented were left uncovered in the media’s narrative.
We at the Daily Trojan are as guilty as any media outlet of just this. We ran countless opinion pieces, labeling Trump as “unqualified,” a “racist,” a “sexist,” a “xenophobe” and even “orange,” but never did we treat him as a viable voice for an American populace that felt betrayed by our government. Of course, our dismissals of Trump did not deter these voters from voting for Trump, because they themselves felt dismissed by us.
The America we saw was one paved with the promise of a brighter, more equal future for all. A major political party had just nominated its first female candidate for president following the election of the first black president, and to us, America was making strides to form a more perfect union. This, however, was not the America they saw. The America they saw was leaving them behind, and they felt unheard and discouraged by the American political system.
With the election of Donald Trump, our viewpoints have shifted. While we, on liberal college campuses across the country, lamented a step backward for the country we want to live in, they see a brighter future, with a candidate that will not cast them aside as yesterday’s polling numbers.
But this comes with dangerous consequences.
We cannot downplay the historic significance of this outcome, even beyond the loss of our first real chance to elect the first female president. This is an election that will have a profound impact on our generation, as all of us will now graduate into Trump’s America.
For many of us — quiet masses staring at our television screens last night with mouths agape and eyes misty — this might appear to be a time of despair. This might appear to be the time to give up on a nation which seemingly has stepped decades back into its hateful past.
Despair, however, is not the answer. Now more than ever, our generation must continue the critical mass of activism that burned throughout this election season to carry America to where it should be — a progressive beacon of hope, opportunity and democratic purpose.
America let us down last night, but that does not mean we turn our back on her. In the words of Hillary Rodham Clinton, we are indeed stronger together, and by uniting in purpose, we can propel this nation back into its rightful track. Yes, there are two Americas, but we must continue to fight until we are, once again, one.
Daily Trojan Fall 2016 Editorial Board