What a shock. I woke up at 8 a.m., with the sole purpose of checking the news for the inevitable. The election of Hillary Clinton. Of course she would win. The establishment always wins; American democracy is controlled by money. Right? Well, no. When I woke up on election day, Trump was leading by a landslide. What was going on?
I got up, walked around campus for a bit, had some coffee. Everywhere I went, it was the same feeling of disbelief. There is no denying it: we may be situated in a relatively conservative region of the world, but almost all of us are ever so liberal. How could the idiot, the racist, the bigot, win the one election that — even though we represent so many countries as a student body — we will all be affected by?
Throughout the day, every person I have talked to has been considering what consequences this will have for them. Students wondering if they will still be able to get visas for study abroad, their fear of being a target due to nationality during their upcoming regional travels and the markets plummeting in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. Oh, and let’s not forget the poor U.S. Americans.
Then there is the anger. Anger that someone who would vote for a figure like Donald Trump is present on our campus and of course, there are some. This election has been extremely emotional. It seems like the most important election any of us can remember, and in a campus as liberal as ours, every harsh comment against Trump tends to be accepted or agreed upon. Do not get me wrong: I would comment harshly on Donald Trump any and every day of the week. I think he is an under-qualified bully, and I think that giving him access to the U.S. nuclear arsenal is extremely problematic. But that is not the point I want to make.
Donald Trump could mobilize the large, male, white working class and that is largely the reason for his victory. But part of the reason for Trump’s success in doing this was the arrogance displayed by the establishment. The basket of deplorables — as half of Trump’s voters were referred to by Clinton — are now being dehumanized, called evil, racist and plain stupid. This is no way to unite a country and this is no way to unite a campus.
A professor of mine once exemplified how liberal college professors tend to be. He talked about how there was one person in his department who refused to tell the others who he would vote for. But by mistake, he ended up posting it on Facebook, and from then on, he was ousted socially from the department. Right now, feelings of anger are running very high among many of us, but there are Republicans among us, and there are people who supported Donald Trump. I do not want to blame anyone who posts on social media that they plan to delete all friends who posted positive statuses about Trump: I completely understand their point of view. But by hating Trump’s supporters, all we do is alienate them further and that is the last thing we want.
Let us be emotional, let us be sad and let us be angry. But let us forget about hatred. Let us instead embrace our fellow humans and students, no matter how they vote, and let us adopt the understanding that everyone had their reason. Who knows, maybe we could even manage to show them that bigotry is not the only way.
Jakob Plaschke is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.