This might still be rather hard to believe, but it is going to be okay. It feels rather surreal, and understandably so, given that no one thought this would happen. It feels as though we are living in a dream and that the progress of the past eight years was for nothing. But I promise that it will be okay. We must remember that while the future is full of uncertainty, the system has worked for 240 years. It is a system that is constantly reworking itself, a system that constantly adapts to change and a system that allows for its core values to manifest themselves in different ways as our understanding of them evolves.
It was plainly obvious from the start of Trump’s campaign that his promises were vapid and used to promote his rise to power. While a bit less than half of all Americans fell blindly to the scam of this demagogue, we must realize he cannot do a lot of what he has promised throughout the campaign.
And although there might be a (justifiable) disdain for mainstream Republicans for allowing such a man to rise up the ranks within their party, many Republicans are not simply going to allow Trump to do as he wishes. Even with a Republican-controlled Senate, there are several Republicans who refuse to bend to Trump’s bidding. And those common-sense Republicans—the ones who did not vote for Donald Trump—have the power to influence what Trump attempts to pass through Congress by influencing their Representatives. And it takes a terrible Senator to act in defiance of their constituents.
Finally, if we run out of all these fail-safes that the Founding Fathers so wisely conceptualized, there is one other balance of power. We—the people—have a voice to use more frequently than just every election cycle. When we speak up, when we protest, when we refuse with indignation any theft of our rights and when we speak out in unison, those in power must bend to the will of the people. And if the president-elect attempts to act in defiance of the public, there are several million people who are just as willing to put an end to his reign of tyranny.
Perhaps more terrifying than a Trump presidency is the notion that around half of Americans are okay with a man who has spouted xenophobic nonsense and coated several of his “policies” with racism and sexism. They are okay electing a man who has bragged about sexual assault and pardoned his speech as a form of “locker room talk.” But we must also understand why they did this. Many Americans are scared of change, or do not understand it. They come from a place of privilege, a place where they do not have to think about the issues that burden so many millions of Americans. In no way does this excuse what they did and in no way should we accept this as a justification, but it is very difficult to heal without attempting to reach out and understand how others are thinking. Fear is a powerful force, and one that often blinds rationality.
It is difficult for me, too, as it may be for many of you. And that is absolutely okay. I am both Middle Eastern and Hispanic, and with a very Hispanic-sounding last name to boot. I have experienced forms of racism, discrimination and ignorant comments as a result of my last name. There are certain assumptions I am aware people make about me because of it. It is just not as easy as one would like it to be, but perhaps it is necessary.
There is so much uncertainty, and being fearful is understandable. But it is not the end, and we will move on. And in a time when nihilism seems most appealing, we ought to maintain that reasonable faith in our democratic system, because despair is what prompted Trump’s creation, and hope is what will destroy it.