(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
For many of us, the pledge was an essential part of our educational upbringing. We all remember those early school mornings; students in their homerooms fighting the temptation of sleep. The room was buzzing with chatter, but the crackle of the intercom immediately sent everyone into a silence. The announcer would ask you to rise to your feet; suddenly signs of sleepiness left your body. You would stand with one arm over chest, the other on the desk being used as support. While standing there, you would examine the room and the faces of students just as sleepy as you were. In that classroom there were students of different heights, weight, skin, and hair color. No one in that room looked just like you, but despite differences you were all pledging allegiance to the same flag.
As you recited those words, you felt connected, and you really did hope “and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God. Indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” For all.
It has been a couple of weeks since one of the most controversial elections in American history came to an end. In these last couple of weeks, a sentiment of discontent has captured the country. Many would argue the election divided the nation, while others say it only highlighted preexisting issues. So America, how exactly did we get here? How was an openly bigoted, sexist, racist elected to the presidency? Perhaps we should stop focusing on the president-elect himself, and start wondering how a history of animosity towards “differences” challenged civil liberties and pushed the melting pot over.
America’s first potential female president faced down a millionaire businessman that drew comparisons to Hitler. That being said, Democratic Hillary Clinton also faced harsh criticism. Many Americans believed her to be untrustworthy, which was disappointing because she practically spent her entire life preparing to be president. Clinton was beyond qualified for the position, but like many young graduates trying to find that first job, her qualifications were not enough. Ultimately her downfall can be attributed to an email scandal, the Benghazi controversy, a claim that her husband was a rapist, and an accusation that she cheated Bernie out of the DNC nomination. It did not matter how many celebrities endorsed her, or even if Bernie pleaded with his supporters to hop on her ballot; a cloud of distrust seemed to follow her all the way to the polls. In the end Clinton won the popular vote, but shockingly received nearly 10 million fewer votes than Obama in previous running years. Many attribute her loss to the lack of support within her own party, which was reflected by her tremendous loss within the Electoral College.
Republican Donald Trump was voted the President- elect of the nation, a surprising ending to a campaign that was centered on bigotry and hate. Trump, championed closing American borders to illegal immigrants. Most of his rhetoric about immigrants targeted Mexican and Muslim immigrants, a hot button issue, for many conservative American wishing to “drain the swamp.” Trump also wanted to abolish pre-existing equality laws for members of the LGBTQIA community. His running mate, Michael Pence, is a noted conversion therapy supporter. Conversion therapy is psychological treatment that targets a person’s sexuality. Many participants in this treatment suffer long term physiological effects, and many attempt and succeed suicide. Throughout the election Trump mocked a disabled news reporter, and made disparaging comments about a fallen Muslim American solider. If this was not enough, in the last few weeks of his campaign a recording was released of Trump saying he “grabs them by the pussy.” In the days that followed many women made claims that the President-elect had abused them or had attempted. It was also made known that he would also be going to court for a child-rape case. Surely that would have been the nail in the coffin, but not at all. Trump won the election, leaving many wondering how exactly did this happen.
In order to figure that out, we must look at what has happened in the few weeks since he was named president-elect.
The day after the election, it was impossible to use social-media without seeing some formal statement addressing the results. Many people expressed their disbelief that so much hate existed in our nation. They were surprised that nearly half of the country voted for a man that was endorsed by the KKK, and many international leaders condemned. Amongst the posts of sadness, there were those who shared happiness about Trump’s victory. This left many surprised that their neighbors, friends, teachers, and even pastors supported Trump. In between the surprise and happiness, there were those saying, “I told you so.” For many marginalized individuals, hate had finally materialized in a tangible way. The election served as a reminder, that Trump’s overwhelming amount of support made clear that progression during the Civil Rights era was a facade.
Just days after the election there was a surge in the report of hate crimes. Graffiti shouted, “Make America White Again” and swastikas soon flooded Facebook newsfeeds. According to a CNN article, “The Southern Poverty Law Center has counted more than 700 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation in the United States between November 9, the day after Election Day, and November 16.” Many of these crimes have targeted LGBQTIA’S, Muslims, women, and people of color. The president-elect addressed the crimes, but switched his attentions to a feud with the cast of Hamilton. The feud began after the cast pleaded that Vice President-elect, Michael Pence worked on behalf of all Americans. Some speculated this was a plot to distract from the “Trump University” settlement. In the days following the incident Trump stated plans to begin a Muslim registry. The plan mirrors Hitler’s registry for Jews, which had direct consequences regarding the Holocaust. The registry and hate crimes reveal the hatred taking form in this nation.
great nation that was for all has finally demanded that it is only for some.
Perhaps voting statistics might shed light on the division in the country. While both parties and leaders tried to appeal to marginalized individuals, many felt vulnerable before, during, and after the election. African Americans were supposed to be a pivotal voting audience, and both parties tried their best to appeal. Hillary Clinton championed support from Beyoncé, Jay- Z, and even the first lady. Clinton’s efforts were criticized as pandering, and despite the star power were unable to sway many. Trump preached to “the blacks” that the Democratic Party had failed them. At his rallies there were supporters holding signs that said, “Blacks for Trump.” Some of the hands holding those signs belonged to white people. For many African Americans, both candidates were just not enough. Voters could not forget Clinton policies that cracked down on young black males, to which she referred to as “Super predators.” These polices in which lead to the incarceration of a generation of young black men and women. They also could not forget that Trump was sued by the Federal government for housing discrimination.
Hillary’s loss to trump also says a lot about feminism.
Fifty three percent of white women voted for Trump. Fifty three percent of women, heard a man saying that he was going to grab another by the pussy, and still voted for him. What does that say about feminism? Well for one it says a lot about race issues. It has been speculated that white women voted for trump, because they took their race into consideration before they took their sex. During this election many women looked to Susan B. Anthony as inspiration for the historical campaign. There were hundreds of pictures of men and women crying at her grave, tears of happiness streaming down their cheeks. Susan B. Anthony was however a prime example of the fight of race and sex within feminism. During the suffrage movement she said many disparaging things about blacks. “An oligarchy of race where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured; but his oligarchy of sex which makes father brothers, husbands and son, the oligarchs over mother and sisters, that wife and daughters of every household… carries discord and rebellion into every home of the nation.” Anthony’s thought about race and sex may mirror the opinions of female Trump voters. It has become apparent that Trump was a candidate that appealed heavily to white voters, because fifty-eight percent of white men and women voted for him. In fact 45 percent of college educated white women voted for him. Women who received higher level education that understood the implications of hate speech and dangerous rhetoric chose him to be the leader of our country. Specialist and researchers have offered reasoning behind their voting, a lot believed they wanted to elect a man that would preserve their racial hierarchy.
If race was not an issue, then perhaps America’s progression towards inclusiveness frightened those with “traditional” values. To them progressiveness was an attack to their way of life. Walking into a Target and seeing gender neutral bathrooms was dangerous. Men becoming the faces of makeup companies were ludicrous. Illegal immigrants’ receiving educational recognition was offensive. Black Lives Matter hashtags were unpatriotic. Native Americans’ protesting for clean water was irrational. These issues amongst many others were perceived as threats to the normal American way of life. Millennials are believed to be the motivation for those changes, and while that is partially accurate it is also incorrect. During this election it was believed that Trumps major support would come from uneducated blue-collar voters. While many of his votes did come from this demographic, many also came from upper class educated young people. This destroyed the myth that racists were unintelligent poor people. The so called “Silent majority” was actually larger than expected.
President-elect Trump has yet to take office, but he will, and when he does this nation will be tested socially and politically.
This election forced Americans to confront the tremendous state of division; it ripped the bandage off of scarred skin, revealing deep wounds. Many Americans regardless of race or sex will tuck their children into bed, and send them to school tomorrow morning. For some, they will have to worry about their children being taunted about their race, sexual orientation, or gender. Regardless of who or what they are, they too will be asked to say the pledge.
When they get to the part that says, “And to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” They might hesitate on the “for all.”