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Students on the Election

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This year’s election was no doubt an interesting one. Many people were unhappy with both of the major parties’ candidates going into Election Day. That being said, Donald Trump won the election fairly, and he will be the next president of the United States. It’s all right for people to be upset at the results, but you won’t always get what you want in life and this is a great example. I’m sure many people were upset when Romney lost the election in 2012. If Trump succeeds as president, that is good not only for our country, but for the rest of the world. People may not agree with some of the things that Trump has said or the things that he stands for, but we must give him a chance to prove himself as president before we condemn him. Hating Trump supporters is not going to solve anything. If Trump oversteps his bounds as president, he will face the consequences. Until then it is in the country’s best interest to support him and move on from the chaos of the election in order to continue improving this great nation.

– Connor Yahn ’18 (yahn1@stolaf.edu) is from Longwood, Fla. He majors in economics.

The amount of times in the past few months I have heard people claim that they couldn’t vote for Hillary because she is a legitimate criminal made me sick, even before anyone could’ve known the election would end this way. And now that claim is so ridiculous I almost have to laugh because, as it turns out, Hillary is not a criminal, but Donald Trump probably is.

We elected a sexual assailant and a criminal – and it wasn’t Hillary. So now I know that justifying a vote for Trump as a stand against criminals was always a cover up. I think I care less about why Hillary wasn’t elected than I do about why Trump was.

I was not able to separate his character from his policies, but clearly much of the country was. And that’s what’s troubling. We don’t get to pick and choose the characteristics of our president’s personality or put him in charge of some matters and not others. Our President-elect comes as a package deal, all or nothing, for better or for worse. I hope, perhaps in vain, that Trump serves this country and all its people well.

– Lisa Kehe ’19 (kehe1@stolaf.edu) is from Palatine, Ill. She majors in mathematics.

Once we get over the shock of a Trump presidency we need to start fighting. Trump has given us cause for concern over what will happen to marginalized groups under his presidency. His statements about women and minority groups should give us reason to fear.

We need to get the message across that just because Trump won, that doesn’t mean the ideology he has normalized is acceptable. We need to fight back through education and resistance. A large percentage of Trump supporters are white working-class Americans, and as easy as it is to call them racist and uneducated this will only further the issue. We need to open up dialogue and fight bigotry through understanding and education. Secondly, we need to resist any action taken by Trump to hinder the rights of any Americans, more specifically the minority groups he has already targeted.

Take the frustration you feel and go volunteer at your local Planned Parenthood or donate to the American Civil Liberties Union. Help the organizations that will be fighting against Trump’s policies. Peaceful protest is also a great way to show discontent for government actions and if Trump actually tries to build a wall there should be a protest at every step of its creation. The future may seem grim but we need to continue to fight against the hate in this country.

– Kyle Wilmar ’17 (wilmar@stolaf.edu) is from Hastings, Minn. He majors in political science.

I am disappointed by the hate from people on both sides of the political spectrum. Liberals, if we want love to trump hate, why are we treating others who disagree with us with such contempt? Why do Trump supporters feel unsafe on campus? Isn’t our anger only further dividing us? Do I agree with the racist, sexist and xenophobic rhetoric that Trump and his supporters have shared? Absolutely not. But do I hate the people who believe them? No. Will I work to challenge these ideas in a dialogue that people feel safe in? I will try my very best.

I choose to sympathize with someone and their economic situation, without sympathizing with the racist rhetoric they abide by. I choose to separate the different aspects of a person in a way that I can still love part of them. It takes hard work to develop a political and moral framework that does not rely on some form of hatred for the “other.” But I’m willing to do that work.

I also want to acknowledge that this work may be harder for some – not everyone has the privilege to think civilly when their lives are in danger. But for those who feel capable, I hope that we can do this work together.

Jonathan Haidt has a TedTalk where he describes a new form of empathy. For some, it may be somewhat easy to try to understand stories of the “other” when it comes to culture but Haidt says that we “get more points” when empathy is hard, when we have to apply it to another’s political ideology.

How we respond to this matters – it is not just people whining that their candidate lost. This is a time for radical change because there is an “existential threat” caused by clashing ideas that could be a catalyst for new growth, understanding, love and compassion.

There have been some thoughts weighing on my mind that I want to share and talk about – so please don’t hesitate to email me or talk to me in person.

– Emily Newman ’17 (newman@stolaf.edu) is from Rochester, Minn. She majors in psychology.

We need to rescue ourselves from the abyss of social media activism. I have spent this past week watching as person after person has taken to Facebook to state their outrage over the election of Donald Trump this last Tuesday. Congratulations, we have proven to everyone around us how morally superior we are.

While we can honestly be proud to be one of the most compassionate, concerned generations to be born into this country, it is essential that we don’t forget that a Facebook post is worth next to nothing.

I worked for Bernie Sanders in two different states and I think that I can speak on behalf of thousands of amazing staffers when I say that the support students showed for Bernie this election cycle has increased political optimism and shown a hint of what this world can be when we all unite at the polls. However, I think I can reflect the sentiment felt by many of those working in politics when I say that the single biggest thing we lack as a generation is the desire to carve out time in our busy schedules and dedicate it to a cause.

Don’t get me wrong, we should be upset about Trump’s election. We should be angry that there are so many institutions and individuals in this country that feed off and profit from bigotry. We should be angry that we have allowed race to be a primary factor in electing a president, while we are told by the Supreme Court that racism is dead in our country. We can blame the generations before us, the media, establishment politics, the electoral college, basically anyone we please, but the blame rests solely on ourselves. We absolutely need to recognize that, as a multiplicity, we did not do enough work this election cycle.

What will our legacy be? We can claim to be as compassionate as we want, as outraged as we want, but we must get out and knock on doors, make calls and organize. Until we mobilize our outrage, marginalized people in our country will continue to be battered by a corrupt system and progressive candidates will continue to lose elections.

We cannot go back to a world where we stop caring about politics. We need to continue to sustain this passion over the next few years. I beg of you, don’t let your outrage be limited to the few days following the election or a single Facebook post.

This country needs better, we can be better.

Tristan Voegeli ’19 (voegel1@stolaf.edu) is from Winona, Minn. He majors in political science.

In many instances the oppressed choose to stay silent, are unrepresented and are ignored until enough is enough. In second grade I was told to leave the country because my complexion was too dark. During my freshman year at St. Olaf, a Trump supporter told me he would deport me if he could. More than a decade has passed since I was in second grade and these sentiments have only grown and transformed into hate. It hurt then and it hurts now. Many Trump supporters acknowledge the racist statements that Trump has made but openly declare that they themselves are not racist. One doesn’t have to be an unabashed racist to be complicit in racism. A president who threatens to deport good undocumented families like mine makes this great nation difficult to call home. America is home to millions of immigrants and thousands of refugees. Making hard-working people feel unwelcome in their own homes should not be the norm and should not be tolerated under the guise of politics. Trump is asking that we walk a path to unity, but please don’t step on us on the way there.

– Alexis Valeriano ’19 (valeri1@stolaf.edu) is from Northfield, Minn. His major is undecided.

More than anything I feel a sense of conviction. This is not the seal on an apocalyptic fate, but America’s desperate call for productive action. For me, watching President-elect Donald Trump give an acceptance speech solidified the fact that he will be leading our country for at least the next four years. It also affirmed the suspicion I’ve been harboring since Trump emerged as a semi-plausible candidate and his poll numbers remained high – that something is broken. This has finally been confirmed in the form of a “Trump Triumph.”

Perhaps it is the two-party system that is broken. Perhaps it’s the electoral college or insufficient political and racial education. Perhaps it is the media or fear for national security or something more or less definite. More likely it is a convoluted combination of all of these issues and more. Those who are celebrating and those who are dissatisfied with the results can both agree that our political system is fundamentally broken.

America needs to be made great again in some form or another, and this undoubtedly had an influence in why we voted the way we did. However, I’m still smiling and I won’t let anything shake me because we all have important things to do. I’m empowered and I’m ready to help fix what’s broken with patient endurance. I hope for some discussion through a spectrum of platforms, from unbiased smiles to deliberate discussion to expressive art.

What America needs is an increased awareness of its reality, which one way or another will be realized. Above all we cannot lose our calm and control, because this is our only path to recovery.

Boraan Abdulkarim ’20 (abdulk1@stolaf.edu) is from St. Paul, Minn. Her major is undecided.

I’m so tired of going high. Many of us are.

In a now iconic speech, Michelle Obama addressed the crowd at the Democratic National Convention and cautioned against stooping to the violence and aggression of Trump and his supporters. She reminded the audience that “When they go low, we go high.” Hearing this before the election, I was moved and inspired. Seeing the violence and hate Trump has incited amongst his supporters and at his rallies shook me to my very core – it still does – and I took confidence in knowing I would never go as low as they did.

Now that the election has come and gone in an abysmal torrent of violence and tears, I have heard this quote again, and again, and again, and again and it is never in the right context. I believe that this phrase has been appropriated and co-opted by (majority white) moderates complacent with the troubling fascism that is now sweeping this nation.

When we protest, they tell us to “go high.”

When we speak out, they tell us to “go high.”

When we grieve, they tell us to “go high.”

When we are upset and angry, when we are unsafe in our dorms, when we are dissatisfied with people telling us to “get over it” as we cry and wail at the actualization and legitimization of an oppressive reality that has existed in America since its founding on the exploitation of black and indigenous people, they tell us to “go high.”

Who is telling this to Trump supporters?

Who is telling this to the people spitting in the face of Chicanx activists?

Who is telling this to the people who violently pushed a black woman out of a rally?

Who is telling this to the spin doctors electrocuting queer youth to turn them straight?

Who is telling this to the racist police murdering unarmed black people in the streets?

Why should I, someone who has tried for 21 years to always “go higher” and to always “meet them with love,” do it for someone who fundamentally believes my life doesn’t matter and my existence is an inconvenience? How can I even conceive of loving anyone who would rather see me and a majority of the people on this campus dead? How can I believe that you voted for Trump with “no hate in your heart” when I can smell the hate on your breath, when I can see it in your eyes, when I can tell by the way you violate our space to grieve, and take advantage of our trusting hearts that you are full of an untapped hate, a hate more sinister than any overt oppression. How can I go higher and how can I love you?

I can’t.

I just can’t.

Cosimo Pori ’18 (pori1@stolaf.edu) is from Albuquerque, N.M. They have created their own major.