Last night, your candidate, Mr. Donald Trump, won the United States presidential election. Regardless of Secretary Clinton winning the popular vote, the electoral votes gave Trump the victory. That’s how this democracy works, and how it has always worked. The losing team has had their qualms about this every four years – claiming that the system is rigged, unfair, not reflective of the people. Maybe it is, but that’s what we’re working with, and according to that system your candidate won fair and square.
I think the reason why I, and the half of America who cast their votes for Clinton are feeling so upset, is we believe a Trump presidency has serious implications on the everyday lives of Americans. I am not the most left-wing Democrat out there, though I am incredibly vocal about my progressive social beliefs. I do see a lot of flaws in the Obamacare system – flaws that put a lot of Americans at a financial disadvantage. I’m one of them. I do see the mistakes Clinton has made throughout her thirty years in politics, and I do see the reasons why government programs do not always work, and that the federal government’s involvement in our lives is not always for the best. But when I look at Donald Trump, I see a manifestation all of the negative experiences I have ever had in this country. I see someone who is careless with their words, using them to hurt others and marginalize huge groups of Americans. I see someone who is okay with using rude, derogatory rhetoric that diminishes sexual assault and disrespects women. I see someone who treats minorities, people of color, and immigrants as concepts, rather than people.
I think many of you would agree that, on the social issues, Trump is out of line. What he says is usually racist, sexist, and elitist. The way he discusses these issues becomes the example for young men and women across the country, and the world. But somehow I think this is where we diverged. I couldn’t get past those things, and you could. I’ve heard from a few of you that you’re not concerned because of how difficult it would be for Trump to actually overturn Roe v. Wade, or to take back gay marriage. I hear you. I would hope those things would be difficult to undo. But the problem for me, is that Trump is spreading the message that those things are wrong. That my ability to take control over my reproductive rights is wrong. That gay marriage is wrong. That a girl in a hijab is dangerous. That stop and frisk is okay. That anyone who doesn’t look white is a threat because of their possible immigrant status, religion, or class.
I am writing this from a place of privilege – my relatively calm response is due in part to the lack of real threat I face as a white woman. I may face cat-calling and gender bias, but I’m not facing hate crimes, deportation, bullying, or the double take on the subway because of how I look. I know that my response is coming out of that privilege.
Where I think we can come together is through a discussion. I do not believe all Trump supporters are evil. I don’t think you all hate gay people and are racist. But it’s hard for me to justify voting for Trump in the same way it is for me to justify a third-party vote in a race that was this close. My friends are terrified, and they have been for a while. My friends in the LGBTQA+ community, my immigrant friends and family, the people of color in my life, the women, are all scared. I believed that a vote for anyone but Clinton was a vote against those people, and I still do.
But I do know that people choose their candidates for very real reasons. Maybe you’re facing financial threats under Obamacare, and for the safety of your family, you had to look out for yourself. Maybe your job is being threatened and Trump’s promise of jobs was what you needed to follow in order to keep your family afloat. Many democrats voted Trump. Many republicans voted Clinton. I had the privilege to vote for Clinton on the social issues and the rest of the Democratic platform, because I wasn’t experiencing a direct threat to my security. Some people don’t have that privilege and they have to look out for their family, and I understand that. But many voters had to make a harder choice between potential financial stability under Trump, and social safety under Clinton.
My olive branch to the half of America who voted for Trump is this: we need to get on the same page on these social issues. We need to discuss our backgrounds, our points of view, our families, our friends. We don’t have to agree on everything, but we need to see each other more clearly. I’m willing to open the dialogue, and I do so from a place of privilege, because I would like to hear what you have to say. The Republican party may have complete government control now, but my hope is that you’ll open your minds to my thoughts, and I’ll do the same for you. I hope that you don’t see Trump’s language as an example. I hope you remain critical of the government, just as I will. I’m mad, and maybe you’re mad about the Democratic response, but fighting fire with fire is not what this country needs. I hope we can come together and make the next president someone who won by a landslide – across class, race, and gender lines, and not just a couple hundred thousand votes.