photo by Vincent Yu
A tale of two parties
November 23, 2016
Now that the dust has settled and president-elect Trump has begun to pick his cabinet members, it is time for the left and the right to decide how they want respond from now until January. Our two editors, one a liberal and one a conservative, present their ideas on how to move forward from this election season.
Work in the margins
On Wednesday, Nov. 9, I woke up at 4 a.m., checked my phone and sifted through heaps of Associated Press updates until I found the one I was looking for. When my alarm went off to get up for school, I couldn’t find the strength to move. I sobbed silently until I finally forced myself to go downstairs and hug my mother.
My mother, who has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, date rape, domestic abuse and almost relentless oppression since the day she was born, remains the most confident and able woman I know. She has stood up for women’s rights and the rights of minorities her entire life without asking for credit or recognition, just so I can say that everything listed above will never happen to me. Because of the work of people like my mother, I love my country. And on Tuesday, Nov. 8, it felt like my country failed her.
I know many other people felt the way I did that morning: hopeless, powerless and defeated. It is easy to assume that Trump supporters voted to strip the rights of others, and we could continue to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. But then, when was the easy choice ever the right one, or the most productive?
It helped me when I remembered elementary school, and my teachers told me to show your work in the margins. This is what we can do in our own communities right now. If we feel marginalized and as if our futures have been put on hold, then let us dig our feet into the sand there, in that place of discontent.
Let us show our work in the margins.
Go to your community and thrive there. Keep making your art. Continue to combat injustices you see in school hallways and other places. Research how to reduce your own household’s carbon footprint. Volunteer at homeless shelters and human rights organizations. As long as you’re alive, you’re not powerless.
Significant air time has been given to the negatives from this election season, yet this is also a time of celebrated firsts. Ilhan Omar will be the first Somali-American legislator. Pramila Jayapal is the first Indian-American elected to the House of Representatives. Kate Brown is America’s first openly LGBT governor to be elected. Catherine Cortez Masto is America’s first Latina Senator, and the list goes on. Don’t discredit the victories of these people by continuing the focus on the negative. Your valuable voice is wasted in continuing to send out disappointed Tweets and moping in the company of the like-minded.
While we have a right to be disappointed, let us not forget that we still live in the greatest country on earth. Burning flags in the street, kneeling or sitting during the pledge/national anthem, rioting and protesting will do nothing to help the present situation. Turn that energy toward strengthening your social spheres and engaging in constructive conversation with the opposition. Heal your community with love and comradery, and, above all, don’t forget to show your work in the margins.
Meet in the middle
On Saturday, Nov. 5, I showed up at the Oviedo library with my voter registration card and a pre-filled out sample ballot, ready to cast a vote for who I assumed would be a losing candidate. I was happily shocked when I went to bed Tuesday night, but when I showed up to school on Wednesday, several of my classmates seemed as though their pets had been murdered. Some students were so heartbroken; they couldn’t even come to school. One of my sister’s teachers showed up, but refused to teach.
Donald Trump’s victory was a huge shock to many, including me. Now that the dust has settled there has been time to reflect on the election and one thing has become clear. If we are ever to accomplish anything as a country, we have to go beyond the name-calling and the polarized panic to understand each other’s political views and meet in the middle.
Trump supporters were quiet before the election and possibly skewed polls because they were afraid to be labeled a bigot, a misogynist, a racist, a homophobe or another term from a wide array of damning adjectives. This attitude was prevalent in our school, too. Finding Trump supporters to interview has been difficult for this staff, and when they are found, they wish to remain anonymous.
A school is a place to share ideas and learn from both sides of an argument. Isn’t that why we’re taught to include counterclaims in our essays? But during election season, sporting Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton merchandise was seen as cool, while wearing a Trump shirt was seen as instigative, derogatory and unacceptable. The nationwide appeal of the Democratic Party to younger people contributed to this attitude, but it remains unacceptable for a place of learning to be a place where only one perspective can be taken into account. I have a close friend who is a liberal and all we could do was joke about the election; discussing our actual thoughts was too dangerous.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably realized I voted for Trump. I didn’t do it because I’m a neo-Nazi or a misogynist. I cast that vote because I have seen the textile towns of our country that need reinvigorating and the tax reduction my family and I will receive as middle-class Americans. I also believe Trump’s childcare plan posed a new solution to problems families face, whereas Hillary’s solution was one that already isn’t working. I’d be lying if I said years of conservative family dinner table discussions didn’t have an impact on my choice, but in the end, my decision was independent of my parents’. Put simply: I read the thought-out policies on the two candidates’ websites and didn’t listen every time someone called Trump racist the same way I didn’t listen every time Hillary Clinton was called a criminal.
Yes, I voted for Trump. Yes, I have liberal friends whom I respect greatly. I have been a Republican since I voted for George W. Bush in a kindergarten classroom election in 2004, and I, along with other closeted conservatives, would love to listen and learn from the perspectives of any liberal at this school, so long as they’re willing to listen to mine- without the name calling.