Students Share Thoughts on Post-Election Political Climate

November 18, 2016

Before last Tuesday’s election, the Voice reached out to Georgetown students to hear their opinions on the presidential candidates, the country’s political climate, and political discussion on campus. Then, on Tuesday, voters chose Republican nominee Donald Trump in a surprise to many. Trump’s victory has been cited as a stunning indictment of the national media’s failure to capture the reality of half of America. In the time since the election results were called in the early hours of Wednesday morning last week, millennials in particular have protested President-elect Donald Trump with cries of “not my president”.

In this context, the Voice reached out to the same set of students interviewed before the election to hear their reactions in its aftermath. These students supported a range of candidates in the general election, including Gary Johnson, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Evan McMullin. Only Clinton supporters provided comments post-election, and all of those who responded are featured here. While they may not reflect the full range of political opinions on campus, the students interviewed here provide insights into today’s national political climate as well as their own personal perspectives.

The following interviews have been edited for clarity.

Jawad Pullin (COL ’18)

“I will always be a cheerleader for consensus, but it’s going to be much harder to do that in a Trump America. It’s not just that Donald Trump ran a campaign of hostility and division, it’s that he also demonstrates no knowledge of the duties and responsibilities of the office in which he is about to enter. He’s a bully and a megalomaniac and a pervert and a race-baiter. He defeated a candidate who otherwise exemplified a lot of what I think is good about America. He did so with the support of Neo-Nazis and sexual assaulters and Klansmen and anti-semites. He manipulated a lot of gullible people in this country, many of whom cared not about what their black or gay or Latino or Muslim friends thought of Trump. There aren’t a lot of people on this campus willing to overlook that. But there definitely are some, and the election of Trump has brought a lot of these deplorables out of hiding. In a way, it’s cathartic to see who really cares about the least fortunate and who simply cares about themselves. But it doesn’t bode well for the country that so much division has been laid bare, and that we had an opportunity to elect a unifying candidate and instead chose a divisive one.”

Jawad identifies as a Democrat, and said in a previous interview that he would vote for Hillary Clinton. He is a member of Georgetown College Democrats.

Ari Goldstein (COL ’18)

“This is a pretty dismal time to be a political moderate. The far right has taken over the entire federal government and continues to display a deep disrespect for the basic principle of compromise. And, especially in the wake of this election, the left is becoming increasingly insular and activist, too. With deep wells of antagonism and intellectual echo chambers on both sides of the political aisle, there seems to be very little room for rational bipartisan dialogue or compromise. I’m not feeling particularly optimistic right now, but have no choice besides hoping that eventually the American people will come around. We need a revolution of the reasonable.”

Ari identifies as an independent, and said in a previous interview that he would vote for Hillary Clinton. He is the Chief of Staff of the Georgetown University Student Association.

Jasmin Ouseph (SFS ’19)

“I am afraid. For many people of color, these results weren’t necessarily surprising—racism has long been a present factor in many of our lives. But now, I fear much more beyond being told to go back to my country, being told I smell like curry, being microaggressed in some other way. Now, I fear full-on aggression. I fear for my undocumented friends and their families. I fear for black Americans. I fear for the queer folks, the trans folks. I fear for women. I fear for Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and South Asian Americans. I fear especially for those at the intersection of many of these identities. I fear for our environment, our institutions, and our democracy. It has been less than a week since Americans elected misogynistic, hateful, science-denying, xenophobic white supremacy into the highest office in the land. To be asked to come together, to sing kumbaya and hold hands, and to move on this early is insensitive, hypocritical, and irresponsible.

“Democrats, moderate Republicans, and millennial conservatives have been telling us for so long that Donald Trump is a bad man. The rhetoric this election season went beyond politics; Trump wasn’t just attacked for his reckless, uninformed, and foolish policies—he was painted as immoral—a fascist, a dictator, emotionally unstable, a white nationalist, ableist, a sexual predator, unfit to lead our country. He was compared to Hitler. But now we are being told to unite, to wish for his success, to accept the institutional outcome. How do we go from comparing a man to Hitler one week and then wishing for “his success because it’s our success” the next week?

“Another response has been incredibly irritating to me, and that is the narrative of the poor angry white. I am in no place to sympathize with angry, working class white people who feel that the establishment has let them down or left them behind. It’s true, the two-party establishment doesn’t care about poor people. But all this talk of how Democrats lost this election because they didn’t listen to poor white people needs to stop. This kind of rhetoric borders on justifying Trump’s victory. Poor white people are still capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, morality and immorality, science and myth. And to give Trump’s voter base an excuse for being poor is invalidating and disrespectful to working class people of color. No people of color, especially working class and low income people of color, have ever been prioritized by the establishment. They have been demonized by Trump this entire election. But they didn’t go running in droves to vote for the “anti-establishment” candidate.

“This argument of the silenced, ignored working-class white voter is being used to weaken the argument that racism is what determined the outcome of this election. Even though Trump won the white demographic every way you flip it. The sole exception was for college-educated white women (even with them, though, Hillary only won with an incredibly narrow margin at 51%). Not all of Trump’s voters are racist, sexist, xenophobic, hateful monsters like many people have painted them out to be. But ultimately, if they weren’t all those horrible things (and let it be clear, many of his supporters were), they still heard all the horrible things Trump and his supporters said and promised, and they still thought it was okay.”

Jasmin supported Bernie Sanders during the primaries, and said in a previous interview that she would vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election. She is a member of H*yas for Choice and the GUSA Senate.

Maximilian Fiege (SFS ’18)

“My response to Trump’s election was a callous one, as I consider myself a cynic who never underestimates America’s capacity for stupidity. Was I surprised that half of America spurned a candidate whose comprehensive policies on rural broadband, worker retraining, and cheaper, greener energies would have bettered their lives? Was I surprised that half of America allowed themselves to be told that a 5th Avenue mogul was actually an outsider to either Wall Street or the Beltway, only to see him tap both institutions for his cabinet? Sadly, no. While there will be countless pieces on just how senseless, dangerous, and self-harming the Trump administration’s policies will be, I’d like to suggest the following:

“When 100 people in a room agree on what the issues are, but 51 of them agree on a different solution than the other 49, that is democratic. When 100 people in a room agree on what the issues are, but 51 of them blame the other 49 and call for their persecution, that is unethical. Those who protest in the wake of this election feel very real existential threats, and to call them “sore losers,” “crybabies” is to actively affirm their irrelevance to Trump’s America. It is imperative for those of us who champion diversity, equality, and cosmopolitanism to not let up over the course of the next four years, to ensure that the Trump administration is duly held accountable.”

Maximilian identifies as a progressive and said in a previous interview that he would vote for Hillary Clinton.

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