What the 2016 Election Means to a Dublin Millennial [Opinion]
NEW YORK, NY, November 9, 2016 2:30 am EST–I called my parents in California, with my heart in my stomach, and asked, “What do we do now? My job? This country? How did we let this happen?” A fury of emotions pouring over me; fear, pain, defeat. “We don’t know, there are tears here too.” I quickly realized that the people who I naturally sought comfort from, the adults who I always thought knew the right answer to everything, were asking the same questions and had the same shock of feelings I had. The people whose protection I sought, I realized, couldn’t protect me in this moment. This was when true fear set in.
The past 48 hours have been grueling for me, and many (but not all) of us across the country. From excitement, to feeling like a ton of bricks had been placed on our chest, to crying next to my coworkers as we watched a New York favorite, Secretary Hillary Clinton, give her concession speech. New York City fell eerily silent yesterday as we went on with our lives wondering, “What now? Who do we blame? I am angry and hurt and want to yell at someone.” Those thoughts soon turned into Facebook rants which turned into protests that broke out throughout the country yesterday evening.
We are entering unprecedented times where we have a president-elect that campaigned with the rhetoric of sexism, racism, homophobia and bigotry. This is not an overreaction, this is terrifying. We are wading into the deep, dark waters of the unknown and the world is holding its breath to see what will happen next. It is easy to point fingers and try to blame one group of people for allowing this to happen. I don’t want to do that. There will always be a divide between Democrats and Republicans and I understand why some people voted for Donald Trump. While I don’t support it, I know these people are not all racists or homophobic and we need to stop calling them as such.
I am disappointed with the number of people I heard say “I didn’t vote because I don’t like either of them / my vote won’t matter in California / New York / any other blue state” or “I wrote in Bernie Sanders” (after he begged you not to) or who voted third party as an attempt to avoid conflict. I saw too many people remain silent because of the fear of being shut out from friends and family or their community. Preliminary reports show that nearly 47% of eligible voters did not vote in this election. We cannot remain silent on matters that go against the foundations of this country. I repeat, WE CANNOT REMAIN SILENT ON MATTERS THAT GO AGAINST THE FOUNDATIONS OF THIS COUNTRY; THAT EVERY SINGLE PERSON IS CREATED EQUAL. This is including, but not limited to: black people, women, minority groups such as Latinos and the LBGTQ community, and religious minorities like Muslims and Jewish people.
I am pleading to my fellow millennials to take this moment to realize how important your voice is. People will judge you for every single move you make from your new haircut to what you ate for dinner, but it is up to you to decide if your moral principles are more important than what other people think of you. Be brave and call shit out when you see it. Stop hiding and speak up. Not only do our voices need to be loud for legislation and basic rights, but more than ever they need to be loud with optimism.
I still have hope for our country. I truly believe that something positive can come out of this if we channel our negative feelings into something powerful. Use this movement and this anger, pain, and sorrow to get involved; call your local legislator, tell them why you’re mad, attend town hall and local meetings and tell them why you’re mad. Violence is not the answer, riots are not the answer. One of my favorite people in this world said, “When they go low, we go high,” and that is exactly what we need to do. I challenge you to give our democracy a chance; to be hopeful of a brighter tomorrow and remind yourself that we will get there as long as you raise your voice. Make it loud and make it proud.
So what do we do now? We need to take this fire and push further for equitable legislation. Remind each other that our country will always be divided between liberals and conservatives and the people in between. We need to stop pointing fingers at the other side and at people from our own party and urge our friends who voted for Bernie Sanders or a third party, our neighbors who feel defeated or silenced, and the rest of the world to push for progression by starting at the bottom.
Progressive change does not start by throwing third party candidates in a presidential election, it starts in the school boards and city councils. We now have all three branches of government leaning heavily to the right who will work hard to push conservative laws into place, causing us to lose the progression we made for women’s rights, universal healthcare, gay rights and more. More than ever, we need to find the voices within ourselves to speak out on issues in this country and, from the bottom up, push legislation to make these changes. We cannot stay silent on issues because “our friends/family will judge us” for saying black lives matter or that women’s rights are human rights. Because frankly, while we may not respect or like our president, we need to speak up for our friends and neighbors who feel scared, silenced and disrespected. Now is the time.
Emily Edlund is a Dublin High School Class of 2011 and University of Arizona Class of 2015 alum. Emily has been profiled several times on OneDublin.org including a Life in College profile, an article on her experiences in the Disney College Program, and a Life After College profile. Emily also blogs on millennial issues – you can follow her here.
[Editor’s note: if you a Dublin High School millennial alum and would like to publicly share your views on how this election has impacted you – especially if you were a supporter of Donald Trump – please contact us at email@example.com]
[UPDATE – In response to our request for a view from a Donald Trump supporter, Dublin High School Class of 2010 and Marine veteran Richard Mitobe shared his thoughts on the election of Donald Trump on his blog.]