Why the 2016 Presidential Election and Donald Trump's Victory Hit Me So Hard
Politicians, Politicians Everywhere, But No One to Elect
Let me first say that I am not a die hard Democrat, in fact, I would consider myself a moderate. I am fiscally quite conservative, but socially I am very liberal. I consider myself relatively knowledgeable when it comes to current affairs, and I was excited going into the election season.
In January of 2016, I gave birth to my first son, who was born during the end of Obama's administration. Unlike many people, I thought President Obama did the best job he could given the obstacles he faced. The Republicans in power did everything they could to prevent him from making positive, lasting changes, so I scoff at those who say that he was incompetent. The odds were just seriously stacked against him.
That being said, going into this election there was a lot more on the line for me now. I have a son, I have a family, and I wanted a president who would help ensure a bright future for my child.
Very rarely do I find that any political figure shares all of my beliefs, because my beliefs come from both the left and the right. I am very anti-guns, but I am also adamantly pro-life. I am against the death penalty, but I believe in the need for government assistance for those who are struggling financially.
I am not in favor of excessively strict immigration laws, because I think that what makes this country great is that people can come here for a better life. If we make it near impossible for immigrants to come to America, I feel like we are doing a disservice to the globe as a whole.
I believe that college tuition makes education too burdensome for way too many people, and that we need a better way of educating our children without causing lifelong debt. I am passionate about the environment and feel that we desperately need to come up with a way to reduce our carbon footprint so that we can protect the world around us.
While there was no one candidate running for office who I related to on everything, I have always been a fan of Bernie Sanders. I love his sincerity and his passion for what he believes in; that being said, I do think that he is a bit idealistic, and that when push came to shove, it would be hard to put his policies in place effectively.
While I wasn't a die hard Hillary fan, after the primaries, I was so disgusted by the fact that Trump had been named the Republican nominee, I knew I had to get in Hillary's corner. I would have gotten behind literally anyone in the world before I got behind Donald Trump.
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Donald Trump, the Candidate I Failed to Take Seriously
When I heard that Donald Trump was running for president, I did what most people did, I laughed uncontrollably. What had become of our country that this man, with absolutely no political experience, was convinced he could run the country? I thought he was a joke, and made the huge mistake of not taking his candidacy seriously.
I looked at the long list of Republicans fighting for the nomination, and never in my wildest dreams (or nightmares) did I imagine that he would become the party nominee. Not only was he inexperienced, but he had spent his entire life voting and living like a Democrat. What changed? Why was he suddenly throwing his name into the running for the Republican nomination?
As the election season painfully dragged on, Republicans began dropping out of the race, one after another. What had once seemed impossible was quickly seeming more and more probable, and more and more frightening to boot. Donald Trump had become a strong contender for the Republican nomination.
Unlike many people, I watched every debate, I watched every town hall, and I either watched or followed up with every press conference held by the candidates. Throughout all of this, I still had no idea what Trump's platform was. Sure, he was going to "make yuge changes" and "make America great again", but how? How was he actually going to do any of the things he was promising? Don't even get me started on "the wall".
He was a very vague candidate throughout the entire race. His promises were vague, his policies were vague, and even the information he provided about himself was vague. Where were his tax statements, where was he detailed plan for following through with his lofty claims to the people?
Much to my own horror, he became the Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton became the Democratic nominee. Was I worried? No. There was no chance in hell that Clinton was going to lose this race. No chance in hell.
Despite the fact that I was convinced Clinton had the race in the bag, I paid careful attention to the entire race between her and Trump. I was mesmerized by the people who supported Trump. What are you supporting? How are you ignoring the horrific things this man has said and done? What is it that he is saying that is so compelling to you? I was literally baffled. Time and again I tried to wrap my head around the thought process of the Trump supporter, and time and again I failed miserably.
The man is homophobic. He is misogynistic. He is narcissistic. He is sexist. He is racist. He is everything I hate, and yet, people I knew, people I cared about were getting behind him and rooting for him. What was I missing?
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The Implications of Donald Trump's Election
Since his election, much has transpired. Hate crimes have skyrocketed. Minorities fear for their safety and security. Hate groups such as the KKK have come out of the shadows to show their support for the country's new leader. This cannot be ignored. Even if Trump says that he doesn't support the actions of these people, he cannot deny that his own actions are what encouraged these events. He ran a campaign of hate, and now we are a nation more divided than ever.
During his transition, he has appointed questionable cabinet members. Steve Bannon, known white supremacist, is now his Chief of Staff. Jeff Sessions, who has a record of racism and bigotry, is going to be our Attorney General. Betsy DeVos, billionaire and top donor to the Trump campaign and firm believer in the dismantling of public education, will now be Education Secretary. And then of course there is Mike Pence, who strongly believes that the LGBQT community deserves no freedoms in this country.
Oh, and since he won the election, Trump has already said that he has no intentions of imprisoning Hillary Clinton. He said that the famous wall he wanted to build may be more like a fence. He also said that he doesn't intend to repeal Obamacare, but rather, he will amend it.
While some Hillary supporters are laughing and saying that they hope the Trump supporters are happy with their new leader, I don't find any of this funny. He may not be my candidate, but unfortunately, he is my president. When he goes down (which Im fairly confident he will), we all go down with him.
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The Impact of Donald Trump's Campaign on My Own Personal Life
Knowing that people I love put their faith in this man shakes me to my core. I still don't know how I am supposed to move on with my life knowing that people I care so much about supported such a hateful man.
This is the bitterest pill to swallow. This is the part of this election that is so deeply troubling to me. This, more than anything, is the part that I am not sure I will ever accept.
Where do I go from here? I have values and beliefs that I cherish so deeply. Values and beliefs I hope to instill in my son. Values and beliefs that completely contradict everything Donald Trump says, does, and claims to believe.
This was not a race between a Republican and a Democrat. This election pitted coworkers against coworkers, friends against friends, and family against family. The disgust I feel towards Donald Trump is a disgust that I cannot help but feel towards those who support him.
I'm not being dramatic when I say that I cried for days after the election results. Sure, some of those tears were because Trump won, but a majority of those tears were due to the fact that so many of my fellow citizens actually believed that he was the better candidate. That speaks volumes to me.
No, not all Trump supporters are racist, misogynist, xenophobes. But what they did was say that it is okay to be racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic. Their votes enabled racism, they enabled misogyny, they enabled xenophobia in the highest halls of our government. Even if they felt that they had no other choice, they need to own what they did. The impact of their votes cannot be ignored.
My friends, my family, voted for ignorance to rule our nation. That is not okay with me, and it will NEVER be okay with me.
© 2016 Kathleen Odenthal