In the early hours of Nov. 9, the world witnessed billionaire “outsider” Donald J. Trump cross the necessary 270 electoral votes to become the 45th President of the United States.
News of this sent shock waves; many expressed elation and pride, others were filled with fear, anger and grief. In the past week, millions across the country have taken to the streets to exercise their right to protest. I admire that these people are showing their displeasure, and I am glad we live in a country where that right is protected. It is, however, a shame that people want to contest his legitimacy and shout, “Not my president!”
As a libertarian, I was guaranteed a sad election day long before November. Neither former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton nor Trump presented me with a clear vision of fiscal responsibility or the protection of rights. But being disappointed in the results of the election does not warrant an assault on democracy.
As the dust settling from the campaign trail skirmishes, we are left to examine our orange-faced champion. Many loathe “The Donald” as a person, and for good reason.
As far as his policy positions go, it’s hard to disagree with what you do not know. On the campaign trail, Trump emphasized his desire to erect a wall across our southern border on Mexico’s own dime, forbid Muslim immigration and repeal the Affordable Care Act. The Mexican Foreign Minister has already stated that her nation will not foot the bill.
Since its conception, Trump’s policy on Islam has simmered down from a total moratorium on Muslims into the buzzwords “extreme vetting,” for all individuals from hot zones.
The announcement of the increase in Obamacare premiums undoubtedly played a role in the presidential race and Trump’s vehement opposal to the law catered to many voters. After meeting with President Barack Obama this past week, Trump performed a 180 and announced that there are parts he likes and wants to keep. In short, no one that voted for Trump had any real idea of what they were getting, they just despised Clinton.
What I fear is not our president-elect, but rather the inner circle he will give non-consequential power. One of Trump’s slogans on the campaign trail was “drain the swamp.” What good is draining the swamp if he is going to replace these current cabinet members with equally corrupt, scandal-ridden, aspiring authoritarians? Imagine a Rudi “Stop and Frisk” Giuliani or Chris “Bridgegate” Christie as Attorney General or Sarah “I can see Russia” Palin as Secretary of the Interior. Steve “Pravda” Bannon already operates the alt-right news organization Breitbart, and now that he will be a senior advisor it might as well be our nation’s forum for propaganda. Lastly, Newt “Moon Bases” Gingrich would have us at war with a bee hive before he is done being sworn in as Secretary of State. These individuals will be responsible for drafting the policies and operating the Trump machine, far more terrifying than the orange-faced man himself.
The “100-day action plan to Make America Great Again” outlines the goals of the Trump administration, but when has a politician ever kept all of their campaign promises? His plan to implement term limits, undo executive orders, advocate for school choice and cut taxes for everybody appeal to myself, but the rest, unfortunately, appeals to his populist base. The tired rhetoric of increasing military spending, raising tariffs, pulling out of trade deals and mass deportations seem too shocking to even be on the table.
The best thing we can do is stay optimistic and united. Every election has a winner and loser, regardless of which side you were on, so it is imperative that we come together. We will have President Trump for the next four years so we need to find a way to make due with the hand we’ve been dealt.
I hope we can seize this opportunity to reign in executive powers ensuring no president, Democrat or Republican, can bypass the checks and balances given by the Constitution. Ideally, this campaign cycle will teach us to pay more attention to local races, midterm elections and even third party candidates too. If nothing else, the abysmal voter turnout numbers should indicate to everyone that your vote does count and can make a huge difference. Hopefully, in four years Americans will realize the significance of their civic responsibilities and truly make America great themselves.
Grant Jeffrey is a junior history major from Charlotte, North Carolina.