By Lexie Rook
Senior Guest Writer Lexie Rook writes about her emotions following the 2016 presidential election and how to move forward from this event.
I did not stay up on election night to see the final results. When I went to bed, it was obvious, through social media and the senior group text, that everyone was in shock that Donald Trump had sprung so far ahead of Hillary Clinton and appeared to be a shoo-in to become the president-elect. From what I had heard and read by others at school, I knew the vast majority of my peers supported Clinton and had very strong negative opinions of Trump. Clinton enthusiasts called Trump supporters racists, bigots, homophobes, and other derogatory terms. They were not willing to acknowledge that a vote for Trump does not mean those things to me. In my opinion, a vote for Trump means keeping jobs in America, amongst other things. I believe that a vote for Trump is a vote for change, a vote for more conservative leadership. I also believe that over time the government has overstepped its constitutional boundaries, both in size and policies, and I am ready to see that changed. In just a few years, I will be entering the workforce and I want to have a job market that is stable. As a strong supporter of capitalism and the American dream, I think Trump will encourage the growth of both. With promised social and political reforms, I found my ideology most closely related to Trump. I am not saying that I support every aspect of his platform or think everything he says is right, but for me, he was the right choice. To think that Trump will do everything he has promised is idealistic, but I am confident there will be progress made in this country in the coming years as a result of his election.
I expected mass hysteria when I walked into school the day after the election, and I was right. The response happening in the world at large was reflected in the way people were reacting at school. As I was not interested in participating in the post-election conversation, I walked straight to my locker and put my headphones in to drown out the people around me. Even through the music, I could hear the slurs regarding Trump and his supporters, and I was hurt by what everyone had to say. While Hillary supporters claimed to stand on a platform of tolerance, they did not show any acceptance of those who voted differently than they did. As the day progressed, I tried to keep myself busy and watch the clock so I could just go home. As we made our way to chapel, emotions were running high and the speeches showed that. While many cried from the seeming demise of the country, my tears came from a place of frustration that everyone was being so harsh toward my beliefs. I actually questioned my vote just because I felt so hated for my choice. I did not attend the fireside chat because I did not have anything to say at that time. I thought I would not be well received since my opinions were on the other side of the majority. I regret not going because of a younger girl who spoke up. I heard someone say that she “felt bad for her” because she was one of the few more conservative students who attended the meeting. I wish I had gone so that I could have made her feel less alone. Being on the outside of the majority and feeling small and like I couldn’t defend myself was the hardest part of the school day for me. Although I could handle it, I worried for the girls who were not able to handle the environment at school. At that point I moved past being annoyed with all of the slander and became angry at the way people are treating each other. I was so extremely disappointed by the behavior shown in the days following the election. I understand, however, that people were reacting out of fear for their future in this country even though I do not have the same fears. I hope that through this experience the St. Mary’s community learned how to better respect each other and that while a person’s voice should never be silenced, we must not sacrifice our civility just to express our emotions, especially in heat-of-the-moment situations. So let’s give Mr. Trump a chance at being a good president.