Our country has elected a candidate who used hate and fear-fueled language to reach a demographic many Americans hoped had died off along with the concept of segregation and prohibiting a woman’s right to vote.
Exit polls by the New York Times found 58 percent of white voters supported Donald Trump and 67 percent of his voters were white without a college degree.
It is inarguable that Trump won this election thanks to white voters.
This has upset large portions of the nation not because they hate conservatives and not because white voters’ opinions aren’t valid, but because the candidate that those large masses of white voters supported is one who invalidates the existence of many who call this country home.
The U.S. elected a man who said Mexicans are “killers and rapists.” A man who called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
A man who believes a database for tracking Muslim-Americans and forcing Muslims to carry cards identifying their religion is not only democratic, but a good idea.
The U.S. elected a man who said comments about groping and attempting to have sex with women were simply “locker room talk.” A man who believes women who have an abortion should be punished.
It’s no wonder the fact that this man is now the leader of the U.S. has caused many to wake up Wednesday morning with an overwhelming sense of fear. Stories are flooding the internet of Muslim women who are scared to wear their hijabs, African-American students who fear going out alone and members of the LGBT community who are now terrified of being out in public.
There are two paths ahead of us.
One: We allow the divisiveness that fueled this election to further separate citizens. We refuse to accept Trump as our president and as a result toxicity spills over into everyday life where anyone who is not a cookie cutter representation of what “Americans” should look like will have to live in fear of their fellow citizens.
Or two: We accept Trump has won this election. We recognize that hate from both sides will only cause suffering to many living within our borders. We decide to respond with love and acceptance.
By continuing to fight for equality and basic human rights, we will be able to ensure no one living in the U.S. feels hated for their race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status or political affiliation.
Conservatives are not the enemy. Don’t blame them for the results of this election. Prior to Election Day, many had stood up in opposition to Trump due to the demeaning rhetoric he spouted non-stop on the campaign trail.
It’s crucial that every citizen, regardless of his or her political affiliation, decide what matters to our nation, what values we want to raise our children with.
If we want to live in a society where women are guaranteed equal rights as men, a society where love is love and no government can restrict the right to marriage simply because the couple is the same sex, a society where racist language is demonized and not shrugged off as harmless dialogue, then we need to unify and fight for those beliefs.
Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama have already vowed to work with Trump toward a unified tomorrow in an effort to ensure progress continues in our country. If we don’t go through the next four years actively pursuing compassion and altruism, we will end up with a country possibly divided beyond repair.
“And I still believe as deeply as I ever have that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions, and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us,” Clinton said in her concession speech.
Keep an open mind. Just because our future leader uses hate as a crutch doesn’t mean we have to accept animosity as a foundation of our community.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.