Shellshock

By Nicholas Petty (Swarthmore College Undergraduate)

November 8th, 2016, a day that will be burned into my memory forever. I find myself replaying various scenes over and over in my head, from a friend expressing her excitement to vote for the first female president, to sitting dumbfounded in my room at four in the morning as Trump announces his victory. Emotions have fluctuated since, rotating through disbelief, horror, disgust, confusion, and shame.

The day after was the hardest. I woke up still shell-shocked and sleep deprived. I missed my first class because I couldn’t motivate myself to get out of bed, but I heard from my friends that our Inorganic Chemistry teacher started the class in tears. The entire campus felt as if a close friend had passed away, a grave solemnity hung over all 1500 students. By the next day, there was more acceptance that life had to move forward. While some professors chose to postpone tests, many continued business as usual. As horrifying as the situation was, the world had to keep going.

“What next,” the question on everyone’s mind. Anti-Trump protests spread across the country, and my exceedingly liberal newsfeed started spreading articles pleading to abolish the electoral college, or for electors to go against their constituents, and America’s democratic process, and place Hillary in office. As scary as it is, the decision has been made and now we need to deal with the repercussions. 

We need to talk about what went wrong and what happens next. How could the Democratic Party overlook the rust belt? What caused voter turnout to be this astoundingly low? How did districts that Obama won in 2008 and 2012 by up to 15% margins swing to vote Trump? The Democratic Party needs to undergo serious internal examination to see the factors that led to this outcome.

Potentially the scariest part of Trump’s presidency is the cabal of evil men he is choosing to surround himself with. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Interior Secretary Sarah Palin, Attorney General Rudi Giuliani are just a few of the terrifying names that have floated around Trump’s new administration. Trump made a point during his campaign that he would surround himself with informed individuals to help supplement his deficiencies, however he has opted to supplement ignorance with ignorance. The impact this will have on civil rights, the environment, and the world economy is terrifying.

In the end, I do not fear for myself. I fear for the immigrants that trump threatens to deport. I fear for the minorities that the KKK feels validated in hating. I fear for the women that cannot be certain to the right to their own bodies. And I fear for the environment, which Trump has made clear that he has no intention of protecting. It will fall to individuals to make sure that Trump and his cohorts cannot do the harm promised during his campaign. We have been incredibly privileged to have President Obama to act as a role model for the past eight years, but now it will fall on our shoulders to be the positive presence we need in the world.