Election night at the political science department’s viewing party in Trotter was a mess of emotions, petrified students wandering in and out of the various watch rooms, pacing the corridors, and frantically refreshing their phones for the updated electoral counts. Swat Dems and Conservatives alike held their breath as CNN projections flashed across the screens, groaning collectively as state after state was announced a Trump victory.
On Tuesday, I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. Following the polls, especially the New York Times’ grossly misleading Electoral College map, I was confident that come Nov. 9, we would have our first female President of the United States. I came to Swat from Washington, D.C., leaving one largely liberal bubble and inserting myself into another. Though I believed myself to be informed — updated on the latest poll numbers, stats, and articles — my perspective was undeniably skewed.
However, I was not the only one. Shocked expressions mirroring my own were ubiquitous Tuesday night, plastered across the faces of so many in Trotter who watched with dismay as red seeped into Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio. All of us — students and pollsters, news organizations, and celebrities — are insulated within these urban dots of blue. We are guilty of liberal elitism as we continuously underestimate and ignore the swaths of red upon which Trump so effectively capitalized.
Among the reactions to the disappearing blue states was that of Hamza Hashim ’18.
“I don’t know whether to think about the implications as a Muslim international student, but as a political science student, you kind of wonder how such an upset is possible when everything was pointing in the right direction, ” Hashim professed as it became less and less likely that Clinton could pull off a victory. “No one mentally prepared themselves for thinking about those implications.”
Jorge Tello ‘20, an international student from Mexico, expressed different concerns.
“I just saw our currency depreciate by the largest amount in recent history,” Tello exclaimed. “Besides the moral, it is quite literally a financial thing, and at this point; it could not be worse.” When asked about the potential of a Trump presidency, Tello asserted that he could not even imagine what “tomorrow” would look like.
“My parents live in Mexico, but they live on the border,” he professed. “hatever happens, it is going to be pretty bad.”
Wednesday morning saw somber Swatties dragging their feet through the rain. Both the school and the weather seemed to grieve collectively. Some professors cancelled class, many tests were postponed, and classes that did meet disregarded the syllabus to unpack emotions surrounding the night before. Come 11:00 a.m., students crowded into Kohlberg, huddling around computer screens to watch Hillary give a composed, eloquent concession speech, sighing sadly at the presidential potential that will forever remain unrealized.
It is important to note that a lot of people in this country woke up Wednesday morning scared to leave their homes, frightened of what a faction of white supremacists ignited by their candidate’s victory could do. Here at Swat, we are fortunate that we can all venture outside without fear for our safety, and we should not take this luxury for granted. Although we can’t assume he will follow through on all of his outrageous campaign promises, Donald Trump’s platform poses a threat. In a Trump presidency, the health insurance, right to choose, ability to get married, permission to live in this country — of so many Americans, of so many Swatties — are on the line.
So, how do we move forward? We now live in a nation where a man who refuses to believe in the science behind climate change, whose unprecedentedly divisive rhetoric has attacked nearly every marginalized group, will take the most powerful leadership position come January.
Swarthmore College is no stranger to political activism, and the next four years should be no exception. Although the Presidency, along with the current composition of congressional representatives, is out of our hands, as Swatties, we can still do everything in our power to prevent the horrific onslaught of racism, sexism, and xenophobia that has penetrated the political sphere from seeping into our policies.
“Now more than ever we must fight for our ideals and the causes that led so many of us to support Secretary Clinton. We lost an election but there will be more elections to come, and we must continue to do our part to create a more fair, just, and inclusive America,” Swatties for Hillary President Emily Uhlmann, ’19 declares.
“As college students, we can volunteer on Senate and Congressional elections in 2018 for candidates who reflect our core beliefs and values. And we don’t have to wait until the next Presidential elections to fight for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, climate justice, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, and economic equality.”
Clinton’s concession speech echoed Uhlmann’s sentiments and eloquently called the American people to action: it should be met not with tears but with a chorus of rallying cries.
“Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time,” Clinton informed the country Wednesday morning. “This loss hurts. But please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”
In the end, Clinton reached out to America’s girls—the ten-year-olds who went to bed Tuesday night believing they would wake up to a Madame President, the teenagers who constantly internalize the omnipresent objectification of female bodies, the women working tirelessly every day to close the wage gap, and the grandmothers who never believed they would get the opportunity to vote for a female candidate.
“I know that we still have not shattered that highest glass ceiling,” Clinton told us. “But some day someone will”