Recently, this country has seen a surge in hate crimes, an energized alt-right and the use of tear gas against frustrated civilians.
Secretary Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and all sorts of liberal leaders as The Huffington Post may be unintentionally promoting this post-election turmoil.
“Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power, and we don’t just respect that,” said Clinton in her concession speech. “We cherish it. It also enshrines other things: the rule of law, the principle that we are all equal in rights and dignity, freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values too, and we must defend them.”
Throughout the election, however, Clinton and her supporters emphasized that unqualified Trump would definitely be a disaster for the country.
The Huffington Post echoed similar sentiments during the campaign, yet they stopped publishing their notorious editor’s note calling Trump a “serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, birther and bully” on each article that covered him after the results were announced.
These are just some of the steps previously anti-Trump leaders have taken to encourage the peaceful transition of power that Americans proudly consider a pillar of our democracy.
The more resolute who oppose Trump, however, believe this calm acceptance is simply normalizing the hateful values and behavior Trump embodied over his time on the trail.
This fight against the upcoming presidency is found in the “Not My President” movement, acts of protest from Americans disconsolate with the election results. In response to these massive calls for solidarity against Trump, articles like Fox News’ “Nine ways to help the ‘Not My President’ protestors (sic) man up” have surfaced, creating a deeper crevice between people with different approaches to Trump’s victory. Some take a more moderate approach.
“I don’t think it’s normalizing his behavior,” said first-year Kendra Guzmán. “I just think people are accepting that he’s president, and they’re not accepting it as, ‘Oh, he’s our president. We can’t do anything about it.’ They’re accepting it and saying, ‘well, this gives us more of a reason to continue fighting.’”
One reason for the unrest is that Trump’s political stances have been hard to pin down.
“Just because you accept that he’s in a position of power does not mean in any way that you condone everything that he has ever said or ever done,” said Faith Haberer, an Early College junior. “And even if you’ve seen a lot of the stuff Trump has said throughout his campaign, hasn’t he gone back on some of the things and taken a much more moderate stance because of all the pushback against it?”
Accepting election results is traditionally different from “pushback” against the winning candidate. As a result, unhappy Americans are being forced to choose between two fundamental concepts in the nation’s democracy: going against Trump in support of ideals of openness and equality or supporting the peaceful transition of power.
High-profile liberals accepting a Trump presidency took a cautious approach, tiptoeing between both concepts, giving Trump a chance but vowing to take serious action if he commits further wrongdoings.
“The fact is the man’s going to be president, right? There’s nothing protests can do about that,” said Marlene McCauley, professor of geology, Earth and environmental studies. “If people are upset by that man, the people he surrounds himself with, the behaviors he’s exhibited and the things he’s said, we need to hold him accountable going forward.
“We need to keep our eyes open.”
Boiled down, what meaningful reaction can anti-Trump leaders even take besides a hesitant concession in a fragile time and state?
Recount, of course.
According to the CNN, Clinton’s campaign has joined the Green Party’s efforts in recounting votes in Wisconsin and any other states where a recounting deadline has not passed.
These recounts are regurgitating a paradox of the transition of power, as recounting provides both closure and heightened unrest.
This mixture of election reactions and concession has simultaneously displayed the best and worst parts of the presidential campaigning system.
Our country prides itself on leaving behind the “nastiness” from campaigning following the announcement of results. This introduces a stark contrast between what is expected of candidates before and after the election, which contributes to the unease with Trump’s unpredictability that is fueling fear nationwide.
Thrust into a muddle of hope and despair, America’s political mess is simply a partial product of its renowned electoral system. We have a long road ahead.