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Navigating Trump's America

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Where do we go from here?
It’s been nearly six weeks since Election Day. It’s hard to say whether or not the dust has settled since the tumultuous election cycle we’ve endured over the last 16 months. For some, the outcome of the 2016 election was one of the greatest political victories of our nation. A political outsider defeated one of the most notable names in modern United States history.
For others, these past six weeks have been unbearable. Just four days after the election, Vice News reported on the staggering increase of reported harassment and assault, specifically on college campuses. The University of Oregon had students donning blackface and parading around campus with pride. Texas State had fliers popping all around their campus with messages like, “Go arrest & torture those deviant university leaders spouting off all this diversity garbage,” and, “Multiculturalism and diversity are code-words for white genocide.”

Image courtesy of The New Yorker
Image courtesy of The New Yorker

Tensions and discomfort have only seemed to rise as cabinet positions get filled and the countdown to the inauguration creeps closer to zero. So I’ll ask again, where do we go from here? Donald Trump pledged to be a “president for all Americans,” so why is his victory tour only stopping in the states he won? Why was his message to supporters harassing Latinos and Muslims just two words: “Stop it.” Why did his running mate sign a bill in 2013 that would jail same-sex couples for applying for a marriage license and get upset about the passing of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act? Are people that fall into these minority groups not Americans?
If there is one great thing that came from this election, it was the influx of youth voters and a rise of participation in the overall political process. Should that momentum continue over the next several years and into the future, a genuinely unified America is possible. Now is not the time to lose steam in your activism, now is the time to stand tall.
Senior animation student Amanda Lopes shared similar sentiments. “Try not to get too depressed about the future, even though it looks bleak. Get involved with politics to hopefully change things for the better when the midterm elections roll around.”
In 2018, all members of the House of Representatives and an estimated one-third of the Senate are eligible for reelection. While both chambers are currently under a Republican majority, there is always the possibility for them to turn over. Despite the 72-year low in midterm election voter turnout, at approximately 36% as reported by Mic.com, this past presidential election may have politically energized enough people to increase that rate substantially.
Image courtesy of Emma Gepner
Photo Courtesy of Emma Gepner

Keeping up with your favorite politicians on social media can make an impact on how you navigate Trump’s America. I’m not shy about my admiration for Senator Bernie Sanders, and just following him on social media has informed me about so many issues going on in our country that I would not have necessarily read about otherwise. It has also broadened my knowledge on which political figures I should keep on the radar, like Keith Ellison, who is currently in the running as the new DNC chairman.
So, to answer my original question, we’ve hit the lowest point. From here, we will only rise up.