Bonner Springs News

Reflecting on this year’s election

Jordan Thaxton, Staff Writer

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Ever since I was a child, our country fascinated me. I remember watching the news and hearing adults discuss politics. They told me I wasn’t old enough to understand, but I tried to wrap my head around such a complex language anyway. It frustrated me, but was also just as intriguing.

Growing up as a biracial girl from a working class family meant I’d encounter situations that would affect the way I see the world. I also learned that my place in society would affect the way people see me.

After years of watching, observing, listening, and sometimes even being the chosen born victim of subjection, I looked forward to when the day my “voice” would actually be heard. In the back of my mind I would count the days down to when I could finally vote. It would be on election day in 2016, just in time for the presidential election. The thought of casting my own ballot excited me… Even though there was much I didn’t understand about the whole process.

I learned and experienced a lot before the day actually arrived.

When I arrived at my polling place, I was intimidated. All day long I heard horror stories of endless lines and poll watchers. Luckily my experience was nothing like that. The people who processed me were gracious, and the voting process was much easier than I expected.  

I walked out of the polling place confidently, even feeling a little taller. I was glad to finally partake in our democracy. But at the same time, I was terrified of what the night would bring.

The juxtaposition of the presidential candidates would greatly determine not just my own future, but that of my closest friends and family. I wasn’t “with her” from the very beginning, but at that moment I was certain that I was.

The notion that voting is an expression of your most beloved values rather that a practical, political move meant to shift the country as close to your ideal strikes me as an extreme case of individualism. Individualism, I believe is a concept that is the greatest gift of our country, but also the greatest curse.

Voting shouldn’t inherently be about “you.” It’s about your city, state, and country. I’ve heard from numerous people this election cycle that “both candidates suck! I don’t know who to vote for!”

Voting doesn’t have to feel transcendentally good deep down in your bones. You just need to “do” as much good as you can, right here and right now.

After the results came in, from many I heard statements of disbelief and shock. Hillary Clinton, with over 30 years of political experience, lost the presidential race to a man with next to none. So how exactly did Donald Trump win?

It would be too easy to call this election a case of sexism. However, that isn’t particularly the case.

Donald Trump ignited a fire from a spark that had been in our country for decades. He deliberately tapped into the populist anger that had surfaced in many Americans. Trump’s absurd and outrageous ideas weren’t his only message. He claimed to be against the systematic corruption in Washington and against trade deals that have hurt the working class. In fact, at a time Donald Trump’s party affiliation was Democratic. He’s a strict opportunist, and he found the perfect time to strike.

I feel that many are aiming to find a group to blame for the results of the election. First of all, I believe that the assumption that all third party voters who would have voted democratic is highly unreasonable. Think of the faction of Republicans who were “never-Trump” or people who don’t want any affiliation with the two major parties. The only people to “blame” are simply just the people who voted for him.

Many news sources “experts” predicted that Clinton had this one in the bag. While it is true that she did win the popular vote, it is a stretch to assume the actions of the electoral college.

Without the electoral college, the determining factor of the election would be from California, Chicago and New York because they have more people concentrated in one area. So, why does it matter if the majority of votes come from one place? If most of the people in the country want one person to be president, then that person should be president. Why should it matter where they’re from?

 

I believe the electoral college is a result of America’s extreme case of individualism. The electoral college was created many, many years ago for two reasons: the founding fathers didn’t trust the citizens, and it’s easier to count the votes of a small group rather than millions across the country when there’s no cars or internet.

Fast forward hundreds of years later and the fact whether we still need the electoral college is highly debated.

Yet, we’re made to believe that every single vote counts, and that no vote anywhere in the country is worth more than any other vote. It is apparent that this is not the case. The protests that this election have brought forth has proven it.

The notion of “don’t fight hate with hate” is silly to me. Often, it is spoken by people from a place of privilege.

What is privilege? How do we know if we’re privileged? The answer is that we all carry around privilege of some kind. We may, unknowingly, have certain advantages over others. It’s not our fault, most times we don’t get to choose what they are. It’s only because there are parts of our identity that society values over others.

Because of this, sometimes it’s likely to underestimate how bad a problem is by default, because you were never exposed the the problem. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do about it, though.

Oftentimes the media portrays protesting as unsuccessful, unprogressive and even harmful. This isn’t always the case. For instance, without protesting, women would not have gotten the right to vote.

To protest means to break the status quo. Oftentimes it is an uncomfortable process. Being angry doesn’t mean being hateful. It means you love yourself enough to get upset at your own mistreatment. Although it may be scary, now is the time to show everyone how truly proud you are to be yourself.

Another notion that’s becoming exhausting to me is people preaching that we’ve “survived” bad presidents before. It is true that our country has endured people like Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan and will probably endure Trump too. But when you say “we survived” Andrew Jackson? What about the 4000 Cherokee who died on the Trail of Tears? Or “we survived” Ronald Reagan? What about the 650,000 Americans died of AIDS (a health crisis Reagan refused to even recognize)?

So to the people telling you to accept what’s happened and move on because “we survived” are people who never had to be afraid of presidents like them in the first place.

Your fears and feelings caused by this election are valid, no matter what happens or which direction this country is headed. Look out for your friends, family, yourself and anyone who might fall victim to subjection. If you see injustices happening, speak out. I’m not saying that you need to be on the front lines of a protest, but to remember that while we’re “spreading love” that it’s equally important to hold people accountable for their actions and showing them that their behavior has consequences.

Although to many this may feel like the end, and to many this may feel like a beginning, but I do believe that somewhere in America right now is the first woman president. She is watching this all unfold and she is making plans.

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