Sitting in a classroom, I never imagined I would see some of my peers cry. Logging onto social media, I never considered that my friends and family held the strong opinions they expressed. And looking around me, I never thought I would witness the nation react to this election with such intense but delicate emotions.
I can’t blame anyone for these actions. For many people, regardless of whom they voted for, this election cycle was highly tumultuous and felt way too long. And for many of us millennials, this was the first election we could vote in and we became rightfully engaged. I know when I sent in my ballot, many of my emotions were tied to it.
However, what I can’t justify are the feelings of hatred and helplessness that have permeated following the election.
Nearly everyone I know was emotional last Tuesday night and all of Wednesday, regardless of whom they voted for. However, the heightened emotions that have been unleashed by this election’s outcome are not an excuse for the way people have been personally attacking one another.
We don’t all have to agree on which candidate should have won. We don’t all have to share a political view. And, sometimes, discussing our differences can be enlightening for everyone involved. But attacking someone as a person is uncalled for and rather immature.
But hatred following this election is not only coming in the form of angry Facebook comments. Since the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports it has received over 200 reports of hate crimes. At the University of Pennsylvania, black students were added to a GroupMe conversation that attacked them racially, including threats of daily lynchings and photos of black lynchings from the past. In New York, swastikas were drawn on dorms at the New School in New York City.
However, the violence following this election is not one-sided. While everyone has a first amendment right to protest the new president, the destruction of property is illegal and intolerable. In addition, radical liberals have been violently lashing out against Donald Trump supporters.
There is never any excuse for attacking any group of people simply for their race, sexuality, disability or beliefs. The president does not matter. Your personal views do not matter. A hate crime is still a hate crime, and it is still reprehensible and illegal.
For many people, these incidents have created a sense of helplessness. Individuals who did not vote for Trump think he will ruin everything they love and believe there is nothing they can do about it.
This is not true. Civic and social engagement doesn’t end when all the votes are counted and a new president is named. It doesn’t end when your views win or lose. And it doesn’t end with posts on Twitter or Facebook that declare it’s all over.
If you are afraid that this country will lose its values, then you need to stand up for them. For example, if you’re worried about women’s rights, then donate to Planned Parenthood. If you’re afraid of what will happen to immigrants, look into advocacy groups such as the National Immigration Forum and donate to them, too.
Scream about why the environment is important. Never stop fighting for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and asexual rights. Keep yelling about equality. Sign all the petitions and utilize your first amendment right to peacefully protest.
And if you support Trump, his campaign or his policies, then don’t sit there quietly and watch. Make sure you also use your voice to support and lead him in the right direction.
The real point here is, regardless of beliefs, if we want a movement of any kind, we can’t wait for someone else to start it. Many millennials may feel that we’re too young to really change anything. We can barely stomach the fact that we’re adults now.
But that’s just it. We’re adults now. And we are the future educators, scholars and influencers of this country. We can’t forego the opportunity to shape it.
Don’t think the political process is paused for another four years. If you’re unhappy with this election’s outcome, then make sure you vote in the midterm election on Nov. 6, 2018, where all 435 seats of the House of Representatives and 33 seats in the Senate will be contested. And if you are satisfied with the outcome of the election, then don’t sit idly by in 2018. Fight for what you believe in and fight to ensure that your views remain reflected in the government.
This is all essential for every person in this country. However, it is absolutely necessary that we college students and millennials understand our role in all of this. We are not helpless. We are not too young. Our voices always matter, especially if we speak up all together.
Millennials stand as the foundation for change in this country. The only time the nation will crumble is when we can no longer stand to hold it up. But if we band together and keep our feet firmly on the ground, then all of us will be able to hold on as we carry this great nation into its future.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.
Printed in the 11/16/16 issue.