The Whittier Miscellany

Election Day Offers Solidarity Amidst a Fractured Country

Olivia O'Donnell, Community Writer

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With the rise of Trump came the dismantling of the democratic safeguards and the shattering of established norms. The expectations of a political figure to be poised, trustworthy, and civically aware crumbled, replaced by an exasperatingly low confidence in the U.S. president to declare something of substance instead of the usual, distasteful rhetoric. These defenses, to name a few, broke one after another as Trump took a stand on the national stage, transparent about his character and inexperience with the Constitution and global leadership. The unraveling of these guardrails, as outlined by The Atlantic’s David Frum, paved the path of destruction not only for the country but for those living within its borders. The deep division between party lines and the intolerance for people of differing ethnicities, sexes, and creeds bled into the everyday maltreatment of others. The president’s clear displays of moral absence sent the message that the hollowing disrespect will be tolerated; if the president–a supposed role model–can do it, then so can the 323.1 million people that he serves.  

 

Thus, it is no surprise that demoralization and cynicism have been running rampant. With Trump foregoing intellect–and the Republican party publicly accepting this ignorance–many began to lose hope in the country and its ideals. Yet the results of this year’s Election Day serve as the reminder to remain vigilant and passionate about the future.  

 

November 7th was anything but ordinary. It marked a day of historical firsts, showing that people still care. In a digitalized and impersonal world where discrimination is all too common, there still remains an unbridled consciousness. Election Day served as a rallying cry, a symbolic protest of the current presidential administration’s values; from coast to coast, female, non-white, and LGBTQ candidates learned that they had been the first to win in elections usually dominated by white heterosexual men. According to Vox, black mayors were elected for the first time in cities in Minnesota, Montana, and North Carolina; transgender candidates won in Virginia, Minnesota, California, and Pennsylvania; in Virginia, Latin-American and Asian-American delegates were visibly effusive in their responses to their victories.

 

More specifically, the race for the seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates proved to be a triumph for the LGBTQ community, as the first openly transgender state lawmaker Danica Roem won against the 13-term incumbent Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Virginia’s self-proclaimed “chief homophobe” who proposed a bill that prevented transgender individuals from using the bathroom that conformed to their identity. Roem, in her victory speech, championed inclusion, “I want to make a point here that no matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship, who you love, how you identify, and yeah, how you run, that if you have good public policy ideas, if you are well qualified for office, bring those ideas to the table, because this is your America, too. This is our commonwealth of Virginia, too.”

 

In Helena, Montana, voters elected Wilmot Collins, a refugee who escaped Liberia and the debilitating effects of its civil war. Collins accepted the victory with poise after having defeated the incumbent mayor who had held office for 16 years. In New Jersey, lawyer and civil rights activist Ravinder Bhalla accepted his win, marking the first Sikh mayor in New Jersey’s history. These are just a few examples of the wonderfully-diverse candidates that celebrated their feats in their respective communities.

 

The significance of these victories should not be overlooked: the identities of the aforementioned candidates, despite being a typical target of Trump’s unfounded prejudice, serve as a testament to the enduring resilience in the face of hatred. The ballots represent the voice of the American people, and should be the driving force of solidarity in our country.

 

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Election Day Offers Solidarity Amidst a Fractured Country