Tuesday night, I went to bed after hearing Donald J. Trump celebrate his anticipated victory in the 2016 presidential campaign. On Wednesday morning, I awoke to sorrow and fear. Browsing through my Facebook newsfeed of Latinx, Muslim, immigrant, LGBTQA+, female, disabled and nearly entirely Democratic friends, I saw the same message repeated. However, there was also a post from a girl I knew in middle school who lives in Butler County, Pennsylvania. After saying she voted for Trump, she asked why people were not willing to come together. She said that we are a country founded on love and it was time to focus on that. But it is for that reason that I am not ready to come together yet.
In elections, you vote for a candidate—the entire candidate. You do not get to pick and choose pieces that you like while decrying the others. When I proudly cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton, I knew I was voting for her flaws in addition to her policies. A vote for Trump is the same. Yes, you voted for extremely strong borders, lower corporate taxes to create a trickle down, etc.—but he comes with more than that.
He comes with a proposed ban on Muslims entering the country. He comes with a promise to build a wall to keep out Mexicans, people he calls rapists. He comes with a national deportation force that will tear apart families established here. He comes with a vice president who has advocated for funneling government funds into gay conversion therapy and who promises to reverse gay marriage. He comes with assurance that he will defund Planned Parenthood, appoint pro-life judges to reverse Roe v. Wade, eliminate a pregnant person’s right to choose and punish those who have an abortion. He comes with an endorsement from the KKK. He comes with double-digit sexual assault allegations and a recording saying that he can do whatever he wants to women.
So many of us are scared. We feel cornered. As a queer, genderfluid individual, I am scared of what Trump and his platform have promised for so many months. I am afraid of losing the protections of President Barack Obama’s executive orders and seeing young LGBTQA+ individuals forced into government-funded conversion therapy. What makes this worse is that I see groups at greater risk. My friend is afraid she is going to lose Planned Parenthood for sexually-transmitted disease testing, birth control and PAP smears. My coworker who has worked tirelessly on research to improve health care systems is afraid that she will be forced out of the country because she is Muslim. Trump’s platform and campaign have promised repeatedly to target our communities and take away our individual rights. And your vote said that you either supported his promises or that you cared so little about us and our basic rights that it was an acceptable trade-off.
So returning to the point about love: That is why this hurts so much more. The 59 million votes for Trump were personal. Each and every one of those votes said that you did not care enough about us to choose differently. So now I am hurt by the lack of love shown to me by my fellow Americans, and I am terrified of what the future, with Trump as president and Republican majorities in the House and Senate, may hold for my basic rights and safety. The anger and backlash is a manifestation of this fear. I hope that we can come together and continue to form a more perfect union. But I need time first. I need time to process 59 million people saying that Trump’s rhetoric and treatment of minorities are acceptable. I need time. After a while, I do want to work together. At the end of the day, I will always disagree that we need to make America great again. I think there has been no greater time than the present. But we have a long way to go and the only way we will get there is together. So I will come together and work with you—I am just not ready yet.
– Joseph Eisner is a junior industrial engineering major.
Photo courtesy Randy Robertson, Creative Commons