Fall Editorial Board 2016
Donald Trump was elected President this week, and his succession has many implications both in the policy realm and in the larger realm of American political culture.
This signals a shift not only against the measures the Obama administration has put forth, but a shift against the political establishment writ large.
While this shift is welcomed by many, as evidenced by our election results, we believe the overarching implications of the shift caused by President-elect Trump has been and will be detrimental to society as a whole.
As a country, we are worried we are moving toward an America that is less open toward members of the LGBTQ, Muslim, African-American and Hispanic communities.
Trump’s promise to be President for all people, implicitly saying he will look out for the welfare of all of our citizens, rings false next to his plethora of statements outright promising or suggesting the marginalization of certain groups.
To name a few examples, he has suggested that Muslim-Americans should be filed into a database and that mosques should be subject to surveillance simply by virtue of them being mosques.
Additionally, Trump has advocated for stop-and-frisk tactics, which have been shown to disproportionately affect African-Americans, and is reminiscent of something a police-state would do.
This cowardly and statist mindset is antithetical to the ideal that our citizenry should be free from the unreasonable grasps of government.
Perhaps one of the most consequential elements of the Trumpian shift is the change in the American psyche toward post-factuality.
Keeping in tune with the overarching disdain toward the establishment — which consists of politicians and experts alike — many people have simply stopped caring about what experts say, or what media sources report.
The media, which used to be considered a positive force in society, has been lambasted by the Trump campaign, all to his advantage. We believe it is important to keep a check on media, or any other potent force within society for that matter. However, we believe the degree to which people have disregarded the media specifically, and facts in general, is detrimental to America, and by extension, our world.
We call upon our citizens to cut the excesses that come with suspicion and disdain toward academia, the media and government.
This is a precarious balance, but we must reach toward it because both extremes of the spectrum are horrible.
We must work toward a balance of healthy skepticism and being humble enough to defer to the minds of other people sometimes. This is an especially pertinent issue with the shadow of climate change lingering over our planet, which Trump has claimed is a hoax invented by the Chinese despite the vast majority of scientists disagreeing with him and a multitude of studies which report increasing rates of ice melting.
In this perceived political climate of the status-quo’s potency, we believe the American psyche has overshot the ideal balance between trust and suspicion. We must work back toward that balance.
Moreover, we call upon our citizens to keep each other in mind throughout the course of the Trump presidency.
When the rights of Muslims are at risk, we must all stand in solidarity and use our collective political will to ensure their rights are not abused. The same goes for every group of people.
Focusing on empathy is paramount in our struggle toward a more perfect society.
Another problem facing our political consciousness, which has been abetted partly by both the Trump and Clinton campaigns, is our deep and growing level of polarization. This election, just like every election, presents an opportunity for politicians to stop stoking partisan flames.
Throughout the past eight years, most of our representatives have prided themselves on being purely obstructionist forces toward the Obama administration.
This behavior has resulted in an increasingly ineffectual government and sowed the seeds of polarization into our citizenry.
This behavior is apparent in our representatives’ reelection bids as they propagate divisive campaign rhetoric which feed into the disdain and hatred of their constituents.
They do this all for the sake of increasing their chances of being placed into office. It’s beneficial for the politicians in the short-run, but incredibly detrimental to our society in the long-run.
Politics needs to be viewed less as a zero-sum war between Democrats and Republicans and more as a series of hands reaching across ideological boundaries to create a government which provides for the general welfare of its citizens.
Our politicians’ have created a political atmosphere which places vitriol for the opposing side as the highest form of purity, insularity as a mark of intelligence and bipartisanship as dealing with the devil.
There are, however, moments in which we shouldn’t compromise an inch. But they don’t come too often, and that reality must be a piece of our political decision calculus.
To summarize: Trump’s movement is a disdain-driven, knee-jerk reaction to the power and corruption, real and perceived, of the political establishment.
We need to fix the underlying issues which metastasized this disdain and we need to combat its symptoms, whether they be the marginalization of our fellow citizens or the destruction of our environment due to lack of awareness with respect to climate change.