The individualistic view that Americans once held has now been stamped out by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. For those who subscribe to standpoint theory — which values the intricacies of differences of opinions and mindsets, and argues that power exists in each person’s thought process — this is a troubling shift. Even though it has been over a month since the election, I still struggle to accept these results, to welcome our new administration, or to find any common thread with those who elected our new president.
I struggle to grapple with the fact that an underestimated portion of voters wish for a United States that maintains “traditional” values. Trump’s theme for his campaign of “Make America Great Again” struck a chord with this demographic. His campaign gathered Americans who feel as though their voice is not being heard. As the Atlantic reported, his demographics include more than 60 percent of white Americans who don’t have a college degree.
As Donald Trump continuously upholds the a hate driven mantra that carried him to his new office, the president-elect is fueling fueled a widespread singular thought process of limited acceptance. Trump’s idea of America is purely of western European descent and born of the male sex. And as such, Trump’s victory is a representative of the people who have voted for him.
To those across the divide, his supporters wished for a shift in the United States’ future to remain stagnant as a nation and to once again allow an outdated belief system to continue. Trump fueled a fear in Americans. Trump’s America will not “Make America Great Again.”
Instead, his America seems to welcome white supremacy in all facets of life. Inherent racism continues to be a quality underwritten in this nation. When a KKK newspaper endorses a president, a red flag of disapproval should have arisen across the nation. Trump advocates didn’t back down though. Despite his racist, sexist, xenophobic comments, Trump has still been elected president.
As evidence through the election, America’s divide surpasses the government’s present bipartisan divide. Beyond the government, a divide occurs within households, friendships, and families. America was once considered a haven for freedom of speech and sanctuary for unwelcome individuals.
The nation was looked upon as a melting pot of cultures, and yet now his campaign —which many could argue was run in complete disavowal of this concept — has brought out the worst in the United States. Families of undocumented immigrants are living in fear of being broken forever apart. People of the LGBTQ are questioning their safety in the United States. Women fear for a future that allows being manhandled without any form of consent.
As many have pointed out, though Trump’s message is alarming, what may be even more concerning are the individuals he surrounds himself with who work to promote and implement that message. For example, Trump has chosen a mainly unqualified white male-dominated cabinet who reflect his own unaccepting, blind opinions. Similar to Trump’s allowance for hate speech, Steve Bannon was tapped as Chief Strategist for chairing Breibart News, a white nationalist website. Another human rights critic, Health Secretary Tom Price, maintains a devoted record as pro-life and largely against women’s health rights. Viewed as antagonistic to civil rights, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now been tasked with the heavy position of interpreting the law in order to protect American values and rights.
The lack of differing opinions create a homogenous environment. By challenging opinions, one is forced to examine their ethics, and the challenging of ethics is valuable for self-growth and even more valuable for a nation to reflect on its principles. Even more worrisome than a uniform cabinet is a government institution that accepts and possibly even codifies social injustices.
Sadly, many Trump supporters belong to a hostile community that condones hate crimes. Rather than embark on a new future, Americans need to prepare for a fight to maintain their rights as equal citizens. Barriers will be even more difficult to be broken down now.
Trump does not and will never represent me as an American and more so a person. There’s value in knowledge and different perspectives, and individualism sparks progress in the world. We must encourage both a society and a government that is willing to step over the aisle in the name of equality and a future toward progressive politics.