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Gorillas, Booze and Anger

Jaagriti Sharma-

“America has disappointed me. America is full of racists, sexists and ignorant assholes.”

These are the disappointing and recurring messages filtering through my social media feeds. If we are to stand as one united nation, we need to restructure our thoughts and behavior. It is wrong to say Trump won because America is racist, sexist, and bigoted. I am heartbroken at the denial and desperation that has caused a man who was facing trial for the rape of a 13-year-old girl to be our president.  I am horrified that marginalized groups in America are now afraid for their lives. But, it is wrong to feel betrayed by “the rest of America.”  It is true we have taken a step back in our progress as an equal country, but we should not increase the divide by responding to hate with more hate.

Trump is #ourpresident. Do not place blame. Let us stop and think. We sat on our asses watching animal videos, going to sports games and tweeting about our “crazy” nights.  How many debates have you watched?  How many articles did you read? How many uncomfortable conversations have you had? What did you really do to become informed or to educate? The 2016 election has done a phenomenal job of revealing our ignorance and non-acceptance. Presumably, 11,000 individuals voted for a dead gorilla, and 6,000 voted for an alcoholic beverage. We mocked Trump’s hair and Hillary’s age. We took this election as a joke because neither candidate met our standards of moral immaculacy. This is not to say that the words Trump has uttered are not harmful or should be accepted. This is not to say that Clinton’s close allegations to crimes should be ignored. This is to say that our right to vote is not a joke. If you stand in opposition of a candidate, vote for the other, or make an educated write in. Do not take this privilege as a joke. Yes, it is a privilege, yes your vote matters. No, do not be ignorant of the sacrifices thousands have made to secure you this privilege and the wars that millions undergo in an attempt to taste this privilege. Your individual vote matters, although it does not directly determine the Presidential election, it is an advisory vote and it does make an impact. Your vote counts in candidate nominations (primaries), swing states, swing districts, local races, state races, ballot measures and your everyday life. Learn our system, do your own research and be educated. Do not believe that single tweet, post, or adamant friend that you heard, believed and are now repeating verbatim. Form your own thoughts and opinions.

Many have taken this election as a joke, yet now that the results are in, we blame the Midwest. We are so eager to force our anger onto others. Yet, we remain narrow minded. Almost 50% of the voting population sits in our “flyover states.” States that most of us have likely never stepped foot in and never wished to. States that we cannot even begin to understand. The Midwest is a place which we now assume is filled with angry, uneducated, privileged whites. Yes, the Midwest is angry. But an aspect of their anger stems from being vastly surrounded by crime, robbery, rape, aggravated assault, murder, lack of privilege and valuable education. They are angry because eight of the ten most dangerous cities in America are in the Midwest and this has not changed since the Great Recession. This has not improved with any of the past presidents. So for many, but not all, Trump voters this was a desperate act. It was an attempt to initiate drastic change for their children, no matter the consequence. I do not believe the blame here lies simply on the Midwest. No, those that voted in the Midwest, the majority of voters that took this election by surprise, were Independents and their votes were essential. Yet, we spent more time speaking about how unqualified Trump is as a human being than doing anything to truly gather votes against him. Predictions were stated, yet the opposite occurred. And we sit in confusion asking “why.”

Why?

Because we alienated the voters that sway this country. We criticized and underestimated the possible opinions of those that mattered in this race. We spent our time laughing at the fact that Trump made it this far, assuming he wouldn’t make it any further. We were so strong in our ridicule that we quieted the voices of those who were contemplating other thoughts. We quieted them so they would not ask questions, we quieted them instead of educating them and discussing with them. And we ask how our predictions were so wrong? Because of us. What we did not do was attempt to understand, persuade or even hear “the other side”. We categorized his followers simply as racists and bigots and did not dare to delve any further. To demonstrate our intolerance for hate, we created more hate. We separated America into “us and them” and played a large role in the separation of this country.

There is no singular fault in this election, we were all in the wrong. So, there can be lessons. We take what we learned here and we move forward. The world has not ended. Trump will not destroy us all. He faces strong opposition from either side and he faces us, so take a deep breath, take some time, embrace your emotions and remember we can fight injustice. We must work together to muster through any consequences that we have created as a country. We organize, we mobilize, we stand in support of all of our brothers, sisters and allies and we stand strong. Whatever happens in these next four years we must remember that we were all responsible and we must all learn together. There is no separating from our country. There is no us. There is no them. There is only the United States of America.