As I paced between rooms on the third floor of Trotter, I sensed the rising tide of uncertainty. The New York Times had just altered their forecast; only an hour ago, Secretary Clinton had a 93 percent chance of victory, but over the course of a few minutes, the prediction had dramatically shifted, now forecasting that Trump would win the race. As more swing states turned red, and the students and faculty around me slowly came to the conclusion that we would not, in fact, be electing our first female president, the mood shifted from what had long been cautious optimism to resigned despondence.
I woke up Wednesday morning and dragged myself to my first class, where we decided to depart from the syllabus and take the morning to share our initial thoughts, feelings, and responses. In traditional Simran fashion, I immediately began dissecting the breakdown of votes and outlining my suggested steps for the Democratic Party to rebrand and reposition itself to ensure victory in the 2018 midterm elections. As my peers shared their more intimate fears and sorrows, I raised my hand again to admit that I was afraid for my father and my brother, who are Sikhs, wear turbans, have full beards, had faced anti-immigrant sentiment post-9/11, and likely would face this resentment once more, perhaps to an even greater degree. Prior to our discussion, I was frustrated at the results, no doubt, but hadn’t yet taken the time to understand what it meant for Trump to have won. For Trump to have won also meant that Hillary Clinton had lost.
I cried throughout the entirety of Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. This woman of steel, this thick-skinned, incredible, inspiring, compassionate woman that I have looked up to for the better part of my life, stood at the podium, dejection in her eyes; for the first time, I saw her as fallible. For the first time since 2012, I no longer could simply assume that we would have a female president in my lifetime—though I certainly hope and think we will. For the first time in my memory, the candidate that I had supported and defended and fought for had lost. And for the first time in my life, I questioned whether my own hopes and dreams could ever be actualized.
“To all the women … I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion,” said Clinton. The reality is, nothing has made me prouder than having Secretary Clinton be my champion. Having faced setback after setback and critique after critique, Hillary Clinton has shown me that loss and failure are not elusive and are likely inevitable across a career hallmarked by success and achievement. However, those who intend to fight will continue to do so, even in the face of adversity and defeat. Decades of resilience and determination resulted in loss; yet, I have no doubt that even now, after the most painful defeat of all, Secretary Clinton will continue to work towards a more just nation and world.
“This is painful, and it will be for a long time,” Secretary Clinton said. One week later, the pain has not lessened, the hurt has not subsided, and the tears have not relented. However, the last words Hillary Clinton uttered before concluding her speech, likely the last words she will ever speak in the context of a presidential run, are now the words resonating with me most: “And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” It is hard not to doubt these things in light of a Trump victory, a seeming condonance of sexism and misogyny, and a rejection of the most qualified candidate to ever run for president, someone who happened to also be a woman. It is hard not to think that even if we are deserving and even if we pursue our aspirations to the fullest extent, we may fail to achieve what we rightfully deserve and earn. But I have decided that I do not have the luxury or quite frankly, the time, to doubt myself or my fellow women. I have never felt greater solidarity with and respect for the women on this campus and the women across the nation and world; to the 53 percent of white females who voted for Donald Trump, I may not understand you, but I stand with you, too. We all want the same things; we all have the same basic desires and same fundamental impulses and motivations; we all face misogyny and sexism in many shapes and forms each day. Now is when we must come together to push one another forward, to propel one another to scale the greatest heights of success, to elect more female senators and congresswomen and—hopefully sooner than it might seem at this moment—a female president.