What's Next for America

What's Next for America

Donald Trump Won the Presidency. Now What?

Donald Trump Won the Presidency. Now What?

Text: William Defebaugh

After weeks of positive polling data that predicted Hillary Clinton would become the first female president of the United States, the world was convinced that Donald Trump had no chance of winning. And then he did.

When Trump first announced his candidacy eighteen months ago, the declaration was met with scoffs and mild amusement: his orange skin, bizarre hair, and unintelligible remarks were all too easy targets for endless memes and mass underestimation. But the liberal world watched in horror over the last year and a half as it realized that this was, in fact, not a joke; not only was the former reality television star serious about his goals for taking the White House, he actually had a shot at it. He was gaining dangerous ground by the day.

As the election loomed closer, the stars seemed to be aligning in our favor. In the "liberal bubble" of mainstream media, everything seemed under control. Trump made a fool of himself at the presidential debates. An incriminating video surfaced of him making shocking remarks that condone sexual assault. The most prominent and influential figures in popular culture emerged to lend their voices to Hillary. But it wasn't enough.

What dawned on us as we watched the map bleed red during last night's election was perhaps more terrifying than the prospect of President Trump itself: that the majority of Americans (at least electorally) didn't care about the institutionalized bigotry and racism, the "pussy-grabbing" comments, or the fact that Beyoncé was against him. Trump tapped into a dangerous pocket of American voters who have not only been unhappy with how our country has progressed in the time since President Obama took the office, but have grown tired of popular culture as well.

Among the obvious tragedies of last night's results is the issue of pervasive sexism in our country: the most qualified woman in the world ran for president, and she lost to the least qualified man. (Donald Trump will be the first president in the history of the United States to have been elected with zero government or military experience.) Had Clinton been a man, there is little doubt that last night's election would have gone the other way.

All of this begs the question: now what? How do we make sense of waking up in a world that has been suddenly knocked off its axis? For liberal millennials, many of whom voted last night for the first or second time, they will need to see this as a call to arms. Eight years of relative stability and peace have created an atmosphere of comfort—but now is not the time to be comfortable. Now is not the time to grow silent, because that would be too easy.

Instead, we must take our circumstances not as fate, but fortune, and an opportunity to rise above. To be stronger. To fight harder. In the face of a republican president, House, and Senate, we will need to be louder than ever on the issues that this year's election has already brought to light: race politics, gender equality, immigration reform, LGBT rights, foreign relations, and climate change, among others. We must look to the cornerstone of our democracy, which was founded in revolution.

Millennials, it's time to wake up. You're an activist generation now.

Credits: Cover image photographed by Inez & Vinoodh, styled by Carlyne Cerf De Dudzeele for V77, 2012.

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