He Symbolizes Everything this Country is Not

By Neha

As a 16 year-old unable to vote in this election, the election results were both shocking and extremely telling of the country I’ve called home for most of my life. Living in a predominantly blue area, I have been witness to three generations of women in my family stand proudly behind Hillary Clinton. My grandma, the most politically active senior citizen I know, was standing staunchly behind Her since 2008. She got me involved in telephoning locals and campaigning in my local area when I was just eight, along with my sister. How incredible, to feel like an active citizen in third grade, to feel like I was already making a difference (and chipping at the patriarchy).  What’s more powerful to a young mind than helping to determine the next leader of the country?

 When Hillary Clinton began to campaign for the 2016 election, my grandma, mom, sister, and I were elated to see a highly qualified, compassionate, and capable woman run for President, while also taking steps towards breaking that ever-present, looming glass ceiling. But it didn’t happen. I came home tearing up from a friend’s election party, wearing my homemade Madame President and Nasty Woman buttons, facing the election of a man who epitomized hatred. Someone whose campaign focused on creating divisions and separations founded on ignorance and bias. 

Walking into school the next morning,  I’ve never seen so many shocked faces, or such a charged atmosphere in the halls, with people whispering, huddling, crying. These were the teenagers who would become adults under the presidency of a man who would continue to divide and fear- monger. Under a President who represented the parts of humanity that get the best of people in times of change: fear, anger, hate, ignorance. To me, this election serves as a wake-up call to my homeland, with Trump promising to erase decades of progress to return America to its glory and greatness once more. This country has never been fully great, and will never fully be great. There will always be injustice, mistreatment, systematic prejudice. However, it is up to the people of this nation to encourage unity and the fight against the barriers and labels we put up between “us” and “them”. President-elect Trump’s actions will  further divide and propagate existing tensions and prejudices between groups of people. He symbolizes everything this country is not. Teachers and students cried together in class the day after the election, as we faced the unimaginable. Perhaps overdramatic, but it felt like the worst had happened. The impossible. Where was the innate goodness and empathy residing in human beings, the  Americans who didn’t buy into a platform of fear? I don’t know. 

I hope this summer, when I’m a summer camp counselor at a unique and unbelievably supportive community, I can help spread the love. That I can tell my six and seven year old children that they are valued, respected, deserving. That they can make a difference in this world, that adults too use our core camp values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, stewardship. I hope that they can continue to grow and embrace every good part of humanity and innocence they have throughout the next four years. And I hope that despite the differences and fears and expectations many have going into this new year, it will be possible to find acceptance, common ground, and unity.