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The election is over, but the conversation has just begun

(Michaela Chesin/Amherst Wire)

(Michaela Chesin/Amherst Wire)

Caeli Chesin, Writer

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Tuesday night, Nov. 8, 2016, marks my first time watching presidential election results unfold. I was ready for it to be over, done with the constant political coverage and done with the screaming match that didn’t seem to end.

After Donald Trump was announced the winner of the presidential contest — the 45th President of the United States of America — a collection of female friends huddled on the rug in my dorm room.

Variations of “what the hell just happened?” echoed through the dim-lit space.

Expressions of emotion bounced between us. None of us expected this outcome. The surprise felt more than a loss on the tickets we marked earlier that day. It was heavy. It shook.

Our soon-to-be leader is a man who allegedly assaulted multiple women and bragged about groping them. A man who has openly devalued differing racial groups; a man who has said vile words to a gold star family; a man who has ferociously ripped on journalists — notoriously criticizing what Trump deems “the media.”

Five young women in their first year of college talked openly in my dorm room about how these issues hit home — reflecting on the problems we face in our own lives.

Some of the women in the room had experienced unwarranted touches from men, experiences they were reminded of when they heard Trump’s lewd comments in the Access Hollywood tape.

Some were told they were lesser because of the race they were born into. All of us, at one point or another, were spoken over, ignored or felt unseen because we were women.

But this election isn’t all about the glass ceiling, it’s about the glass walls.

I question the divide of hatred and anger of this side versus that one. I even acknowledge this anger in myself where I haven’t answered my dad’s phone calls since he called from a Nevada polling booth, ending the call with “Make America Great Again.”

I question the anti-establishment and anti-intellectualism sentiments that have grown alongside this election. Where truth is what a candidate states, rather than fact checked by professionals. In turn, it is these professionals who can no longer be trusted.

I question why I’m studying journalism in a country with a growing hatred towards “the media.” A country which will soon be led by a man who blames all news for being biased, untrustworthy and a major component of the rigged system. A profession that is not just threatened with public resentment, but real danger.

In a democracy, it’s important to find a way to close divisive gaps as best as we can, to move forward together as one country accepting differing viewpoints. 

It’s a great responsibility of this country to follow this procedure, especially following such a controversial election cycle. President-elect Trump is now trusted with this immense responsibility.

It feels wrong to just “be okay” or “move on.” 

Unlike how I felt on election night, I don’t feel ready for all this to be over. I want to hear people discuss the election. A progression of ideas, innovation and progress can come through thoughtful discourse where people decide to really listen to each other, accept facts and open themselves up to new mindsets.

Right now is not the time to give up on what drives us as people.

We must hold strong to our values, discuss them with those who hold values similar and different than our own, practice the art of being a good listener and a good human.

If we stand together as a nation to hold our leader accountable, the world will be forced to listen.

Email Caeli at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @caeli_chesin.

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The digital-first, student-run magazine of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Journalism Department
The election is over, but the conversation has just begun