To say the mood around campus this week has been depressing is an understatement at best. For many students, it feels extremely morally defeating that half of the country would elect Donald Trump, a man who has done everything from calling Mexicans rapists to mocking sexual assault. However, this shocking result does not mean the country went back 50 years overnight, even though it may seem like this at first.
General public opinion has not wavered on many issues millennials prioritize, even if the president has. For example, non-partisan polls show that 55 percent of Americans still support same-sex marriage. In addition, 64 percent of Americans still believe in and care about climate change, while 56 percent of Americans still favor legal abortion. And finally, despite the anti-immigration message of Donald Trump, 59 percent of Americans still believe immigration is good for America. If the Trump administration tries to enact some of the extreme policies that have been suggested throughout the campaign, they will not only face pushback from Clinton voters but also from people who voted for Trump. Many in rural America voted for Trump not to turn against minorities but because they feel as though they are the forgotten demographic.
Although it is hard to accept at first, there seems to be a disenfranchised group that mainstream America has entirely dismissed: rural America. For years, the conversation about America’s most vulnerable people has centered around people of color, women, religious minorities and LGBTQ people. While all of this talk was extremely important and still is, liberals — myself included — jumped all over rural voters’ cases by bringing up white privilege. What liberals failed to recognize was that in rural towns, people depend on jobs in factories and agriculture, and in this digital and environmentally friendly age, those jobs have started to disappear while urban growth has picked up the slack. Furthermore, in constantly dismissing these people’s problems as fantasy, liberals contributed to the anger that fed the Trump phenomenon and must take some responsibility for this.
At the end of the day, Trump’s comments about women, Muslims, Latinos and people of color are still unacceptable. The numbers show that most Americans recognize this and are willing work against this hate if it is legitimized in Trump’s administration. However, this surprising turn of events should serve as a lesson that people on all sides must listen to everyone’s problems. When America finally does this, everybody can come together to work on common goals, but if this does not happen, then we are all doomed.
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Email Andrew Heying at [email protected]