On election day on the 8th November, America was hopeful. It was finally time for the people to go to the polls and vote for the next President of the United States: to vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, whoever they felt would change America for the better. On the 9th November, America and the world woke up to what has always seemed like an impossibility: a Trump victory. Of course, those in the Trump camp were ecstatic at the news, but for many Clinton supporters, the news was heartbreaking.
Flagstaff, where I’m spending my exchange year, is quite a liberal part of conservative Arizona. The city itself and Coconino County, within which it lies, voted Democrat. In the days since Trump’s win, there has been a despondent atmosphere around my university. Many people, both teachers and students alike, are shocked at the news and some have spoken of their disappointment in their country. In my classes and around campus the election is the main topic of discussion. On some occasions I have seen tears being shed for fear of what will happen to America and the minorities who now feel threatened by what a Trump presidency means for them. Already protests have begun in major cities all over the country, even closing freeways in Los Angeles. This is not the America I flew into when I began my year here.
I myself, although I am not an American citizen, had a personal stake in the election, as I volunteered with the Arizona Democratic Party. I worked with people who strongly believed that Hillary Clinton was the best person for the job. They put their heart into her campaign and worked themselves to the bone for months. Whilst understandably surprised and disheartened, the effort put into the Clinton campaign did not go to waste. Whilst all the votes have still yet to be counted as I am writing, Clinton leads Trump in the popular vote. More people actually voted for her than Trump. The reason that Trump still won is down to a system known as the Electoral College. This system assigns 538 electoral college votes to the states. The higher a state’s population, the more votes it gets, for example, California gets 55 whilst Wyoming gets 3. Trump received the majority of Electoral College votes meaning that he won the presidency. As president, Trump must remember that not all Americans voted for him; that whilst he won the Electoral College, he did not win the popular vote. More people voted against him than for him.
Trump’s rhetoric throughout his campaign did not paint a picture of him a president who would govern in the interests of everyone. His dislike for Mexican immigrants and his promise to build a wall were vehemently and constantly spoken of throughout the campaign. He is a man who has brushed off sexual harassment allegations and endorsed banning Muslims from the United States. Yet, in Trump’s victory speech, he spoke of working together with Democrats, Republicans and Independents, to be a president for all of the American people. Trump has a challenge before him; America is a divided country after this election. To bring people from all walks of life together after his divisive and fear mongering campaign will be an enormous challenge. We can only hope that he succeeds, and today, America remains hopeful.