Off the Board, Opinion

A plea to disgruntled Americans at McGill

It has taken quite a lot of time for me to process what this election means for myself and for my country. I have felt everything from sadness to anger to fear to nausea. The most qualified presidential candidate in the history of our nation was defeated by a man with no experience who ran on a platform of hate and fear. At first I was embarrassed to be American. The House and Senate remain majority Republican, and the next Supreme Court Justice will be nominated by a man who has promised to overturn Roe v Wade. This may feel like the end of days, but I promise you it is not. It is essential that we American students at McGill mobilize politically if we are dissatisfied with the result of this election.

If this election has taught Americans anything, it’s that we need to stick together and stand up for our marginalized communities, including immigrants, the poor, ethnic minorities, and women. They are the ones most at risk in Donald Trump’s America, and many can’t afford or don't have access to the resources to leave the country. When you feel tempted to apply for a visa and move to Canada, or you hear friends and family discuss leaving, even jokingly, remind them that leaving does not end the effect of the Republican takeover at home. Donald Trump has already recruited Myron Ebell, a climate change denier, to help transition the Environmental Protection Agency; promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act; and deport 800,000 undocumented workers who came to our country as children and were set on a path to citizenship by Barack Obama. By leaving, you will be abandoning those most vulnerable to the after-effects of an election that we are all ultimately responsible for. Living under a Donald Trump presidency and Republican majority government may be difficult, but there are millions for whom it will be much more difficult.

Racism, sexism, xenophobia, and violence may have defined this election but they do not have to define the United States or its people. We can give ourselves time to mourn, to process the world that has suddenly turned upside down. But, soon, we must begin to put the pieces back together. Donald Trump did not win the popular vote; it is okay to feel that he is not your president. What it is not okay is to give up.

We must not let this momentum die. It is now our responsibility to get involved politically—however possible. We are the ones who will be living with the ramifications of this decision for the coming decades. You can start from Canada. If you have not already, get involved in Democrats Abroad at McGill. Start applying for government internships, use your summers to mobilize, phone bank, and fundraise for organizations that are fighting against conservative legislation.

Then, go home. It is time to fight against the fear and hatred Trump ran on, and show the members of society who he has insulted, threatened, and scapegoated—Latinos, Muslims, those with disabilities and the LGBTQ+ community—that they are still an important and valued part of American society. Pay attention to and vote in midterm elections. Get involved in your local politics: No level is too small. Volunteer for organizations that are fighting the good fight—environmental groups, gun control activists, and abortion rights protectors such as Planned Parenthood.                                     

This is not the end. This election does not mean it’s time to give up on our democratic institutions. This was not a failure of democracy—in fact, it was an example of our democratic institutions performing as they were designed. However, democracy’s success does not mean that everyone has to be satisfied with the results of an election. We can be using these same institutions to fight for the changes we were hoping to see before Trump was elected. It is time to politically mobilize, to put our time and money where our mouths are, and to start making a difference. Democrats gained seats in the House and the Senate; Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Our country has the potential and the desire to do better and be better, but it is going to take all of us to make our inclusive, optimistic vision of America a reality. Our world may have been changed on Nov. 8, but it doesn’t have to be for the worse.

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