An Open Letter to Those Affected by the 2016 Election Results
Written by Cheyenne Rupert
Election day is something that comes and goes every four years. Presidents can only hold office for two terms (eight years), and in 2016 that position of power was up for grabs. The election cycle is usually stressful, but 2016 was definitely something that will be in the history books for our children to read about due to the circumstances that were presented to the American public.
One year, five months, and eight days prior to election day: I woke up today as though it was any other day. I spent the day riding my bike, binge watching New Girl, and laughing at the headline running across the television screen that read: “Donald Trump is running for president of the United States.” I listened to his remarks, and shrugged it off because there was no way he was going to gain the kind of momentum needed for presidency.
One year, three months, and five days prior to election day: It has been almost two months since Donald Trump announced his campaign. Despite leading in the polls, I thought that surely there's no chance he would win. Come on, it’s 2016 and this man just made comments about requiring Muslims to register to a special database, similar to the ones used in Nazi Germany - People won’t want a president that is disrespectful towards people based on their religious beliefs. Freedom of religion, eh?
Eight months, and seven days prior to election day: Bernie Sanders is polling extremely well, despite being an establishment outsider. Hillary Clinton is also polling at unbelievable numbers, while changing the societal standards previously set for women all over the country. The other Republican candidates are polling okay, but definitely not at the rate Donald Trump is. Today is Super Tuesday, and he won seven states. As the day comes to an end, I tell myself that the country will come together and vote for a progressive candidate and that I should not be worried.
Three months, and twenty three days prior to election day: As I scroll through my Twitter feed, I see numerous tweets about a coup attempt happening right now in Turkey. I turn my tv on, and flip to the news station to see military tanks in the streets of Turkey, and people in the streets. On every news station, clips of what was happening on the other side of the world were being shown. What wasn’t being shown, was what had just taken place here in the United States. Donald Trump publicly announced Michael Pence as his vice president. The name catches me by surprise, because I’m familiar with that name. Michael Pence is the governor of Indiana, who has continuously tried to pass anti-LGBT+ reforms. Such as in 2000, when he wanted to decrease the funding for HIV/Aids, and wanted to put that money towards organizations “which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior” (from Michael Pence’s website when he was running for Congress).
One month, and one day prior to election day: I woke up this morning, went to school and went on with my day. I had a lot of homework the night before, so I was tired, but I was managing quite well. I finished eating lunch that day about 15 minutes before the bell rang, so I decided to check out social media. The first five posts on my timeline were news articles about the 2005 tape of Donald Trump making derogatory and gross comments towards women. As someone who has people dear to my heart who have experienced sexual assault, I was sickened. He claimed that it was “locker room talk”, but I have been into many locker rooms, and never have I heard people make such gruesome comments.
One week prior to election day: It has been one helluva election cycle, and I’m ready for it to be over with. Over the course of the last 13 months, I have relentlessly phone banked, volunteered, and rallied for presidential candidates and I’m ready for election day. I’m ready for the country to come together, and vote progressive.
Two days prior to election day: Election day is almost here, and I have never been more ready, yet anxious for something in my entire life. The day that I have been dedicating all of my spare time too for over a year, was quickly coming to an end.
One day prior to election day: Today in school, many students wore their political gear. Some students wore Trump: Make America Great Again shirts, whereas some wore their Hillary Clinton: I’m With Her shirts. The tension was high throughout the building because we were all anxious for tomorrow, but there were no arguments. In one of the classes, I witnessed a Donald Trump supporter and a Hillary Clinton supporter shake hands and tell each other that they wish their preferred candidate the best of luck.
Election day: Oh my gosh the day is finally here, and I have great faith in this country. I sent out a reminder to my mother, father, grandmother, and other friends and family to let their voices be heard today and to go out and vote (because unfortunately I am unable to vote.) Throughout the school day, various lunch tables were discussing how we were going to have our first female president, while others were talking about how we will a president who is not politically correct and how they were looking forward to that. I cannot wait to go home to watch as the results of the election pour in!
10 p.m. on election night: I am speechless. I am hurt. I am saddened. More and more states were coming in red. Never did I foresee this happening. I am at a loss for words, and the only thing that I can utter out of my mouth is a cry. I can’t stop crying, for that matter. All of the charts that had predicted Hillary Clinton to win, were now drastically decreasing and had Donald Trump in the lead. There were still states that were coming in, that could have changed the results but my confidence has dropped. By the time it was 11:30 p.m., I told myself that I had to go to bed because I truly could not accept the results at this moment. Hours earlier I had never expected this to happen, so I had not the slightest idea as how to cope.
One day after election day: I wake up with my black mascara smeared across my face and on my pillow. I looked into the mirror, and I chuckled at how horrendous I looked. And then reality caught up with me, and I remembered why I looked like that. I reluctantly opened my phone, and closed my eyes and told myself that whatever the results were that I was going to be okay. I opened my eyes, and I saw the first post - “Donald Trump’s ultimate triumph: President Trump” which was posted by CNN, and my heart sank. As I scrolled through social media, I quickly found out that I was not the only one who felt the way I did. My LGBT+ friends were scared for their rights being taken away, after fighting so long and hard for them. My Muslim friends were scared to go to school, for fear of being attacked. My Hispanic friends wept because of the condescending words and actions of the newly elected president. My female friends were even more on edge than they normally are because we now had a president who had repeatedly made comments about what he can do with a woman’s body simply because he was famous. Today was not the day that I was going to fight back against sexism, misogyny, and racism. Today was the day to cry. Today was the day to think about what could have been. Today was the day that not many ever anticipated, but it happened. And it’s reality.
It has been almost three months since the United States general election, and the Obama’s time in office has come to an end. On January 20th, Donald Trump officially became President of the United States. For many straight white males, it was a day of celebration. For many LGBT+, Muslims, Mexicans, women, and any other minority group, it was a day of sadness and defeat. Despite Barack Obama’s views on many things, he is undoubtedly considered a hero in many lives. He was the first president that publicly voiced his support for the LGBT+ community, and he repealed, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010 which allowed for many members of the community to openly fight for our country. On June 26th 2015, the Supreme Court passed marriage equality in all 50 states, which was something that LGBT+ youth and adults seemed almost impossible.
People are going to be in awe, and disappointed with the outcome of the election for years to come. Disappointed that the country chose their candidate not because of what he stood for, but because of what Hillary Clinton stood for. She had the private email server, and she was involved in Benghazi and that was enough for many. But, this letter is not about the candidates, and the president anymore. It’s about those who are afraid for what the upcoming administration will pass, and how that will affect their lives. It’s for those who felt the same way I did throughout the election, and sometimes felt as though they were going to be the only person to experience the repercussions of this presidency. Let me start with this: it will be okay. I promise you. It’s okay to be scared and to be angry. I was scared for my life, and I was very angry. Being upset and angry are perfectly valid emotions, and if you’re feeling those things, then that means that you are staying informed. Sometimes, anger can be the thing that pushes you to make change. You may feel like because you are only one person, you cannot make a difference. It only takes one person to start a movement, and that person could be you.