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Trump elected, nation divided: Hilltop Views reacts

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Each week the editorial board reflects on a current issue in Our View. The position taken does not reflect the opinions of everyone on the Hilltop Views staff. This week’s editorial board is composed of the entire editorial staff of Hilltop Views.

On Nov. 8, Americans went to the polls and, against our expectations, elected Donald Trump the 45th President of the United States.

Trump’s victory was a confusing and dissatisfying one for many. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, won the support of 56 percent of those aged 18-24, compared to 35 percent for Trump, according to Forbes. The remaining 9 percent voted for a third party.

Over the past 17 months, Trump’s campaign has been carried by fearmongering and discrimination. After the election, incidents of xenophobia, discrimination and public racism surfaced across the country. 

The FBI announced its hate crime report for 2015, showing a 67 percent spike in hate crimes against Muslims compared to 2014 ­ — the most since 2001.

Some members of our community are afraid for their safety, immigration status and even basic human rights. These fears and concerns are legitimate — and, for that reason, Hilltop Views is posting this front page editorial .

We stand with members of the St. Edward’s University community who feel apprehensive and uncertain in the aftermath of Trump’s victory.

After so many years of relative social progress under President Barack Obama, the idea of electing someone with such extreme views instead of the alternative — a temperate and overly-qualified woman — is jarring to those who had different expectations for the direction of our society.

Although we acknowledge  the decision to elect Trump as the leader of our nation was fair, we also acknowledge that it’s not easy to see a candidate who is so openly hateful to such a large portion of the population rise to the most powerful position in the world.

But easy or hard, we have to continue moving forward. And more importantly, those of us who are dissatisfied with the election results need to take some time to put the issues in perspective: what could we have done better that we failed to do this time around?

For those who were wondering, voting (for any candidate) isn’t enough. Racial and class tensions can’t be voted away. While it seems unpalatable to many of us who have taken our freedom for granted, we need to do more, engage more and talk more to each other.

The election results are nobody’s fault.

No one group, person or system made it happen. It was the culmination of many individuals. It represented the decisions made by a range of people with different beliefs from different parts of the nation with equally important voices.

The confusion arose in part from a lack of communication between these individuals. As simple as it seems, something that almost everyone could have improved on in this election was relating to one another.  

Reporters failed to talk to Trump supporters, and many Clinton fans admonished them, too. The media lazily and irresponsibly lumped supporters of both candidates into rigid categories. Voters failed to communicate with each other, preferring to “unfriend” those who disagreed with them, furthering the already significant divide between Democrats and Republicans. 

In short, the entire country displayed an impressive lack of humanity this past year.

Today, as was the case for most of the election, the result is hurt feelings and more fear. The levels of positive civil engagement, sympathy and empathy have been and continue to be alarmingly low.

Not only did eligible voters in this election fail to turn out, they failed to take the other into account. We’re not asking for citizens to up and run for office, run protests, work for a campaign or do anything even vaguely related to bureaucratic proceedings ­— we’re just suggesting that more people care about the democratic system moving forward.

Being “politically active” and “civically engaged” isn’t that difficult. It requires little effort on the part of our electorate: simply be informed of the issues, be prepared to be constructive and try to find little ways to contribute to the maintenance of a reasonably run democratic system as if your well-being depended on it.

If that seems like too much work, it’s probably because complacency has become the norm for the majority. And for those of you wondering whether your late-night social media rants count as civic engagement, the answer is that they probably don’t.

It’s so easy to self-righteously preach behind the comfort of our computer keys. It’s another thing altogether to sustain a real conversation with the people around you. Though it may seem awkward in the age of Facebook and Tweets, we need to silence our phones for an hour or so and join a real community conversation ­— in real life.

Maybe it would serve us to make our voices heard in the spaces specially reserved for them, like city hall meetings or sending letters to your representatives in Congress.

You should even want to write a letter to the editor to criticize our election coverage, if you feel that it is unfair or misrepresentative.

Some of us didn’t get our president, and some of us did. That doesn’t change the fact that we still have issues to face in our country.

We don’t have to just shrug and tolerate injustice. This is a democracy, and we have ways of changing the things in our society that we don’t like. One of the most important is standing up for the people around you who can’t, or won’t, stand up for themselves. Speak for more people  than just yourself. Be human.

Don’t like the laws that a being thought of enacting? Do more than just going to a student protest.  Do your homework. Graduate. Go and find a job in the field that gives you leverage over the issue. Don’t let fear win over common sense, over basic decency, over what we owe our fellow humans.

Learn your laws. Learn your rights. Take that anger and fear, take that fury over injustices that go unnoticed, and use it to push yourself and this nation forward.

Donald Trump was elected to the presidency. We think his reasons, his support and his platform were unworthy, but at the end of the day, he was elected. 

His overall message of America taking a backseat in the world’s affairs, of closing the borders and of making America great again appealed to a lot of Americans.

But he’s only one man. Albeit he is an important man. But remember that more of this country voted against him than for him, so you’re never alone, no matter which candidate you support.

Learn how our country works. Branch out to nonprofits, internships, opportunities and get down in the trenches. 

This is how we build a better world. The only way anyone has ever improved the lot of ourselves and others was not by yelling and protests, but by reaching deep into the machine, getting burned, getting filthy and fixing things. Together.

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Trump elected, nation divided: Hilltop Views reacts