By Whitney Johnson:
Before this election, I honestly did not know too much about Hillary Rodham Clinton. I knew the facts: trailblazing first lady, Senator of New York, Secretary of State plagued by Benghazi scandal. While at Catholic University, as the email scandal unfolded, I heard echoes of disapproval from my peers: corrupt, dishonest, elitist. All this negativity surrounding her sparked my research. I was fascinated by all the attacks, but wanted to dig a little deeper and give her a chance before drawing conclusions. More importantly, I wanted to get a better picture of her story, of her history.
I looked at her extensive resume, how she has fought for children and families, women’s rights, minorities, the working class, and the values of this country. I looked at her middle class background, her political involvement in college, and her controversial views as first lady. I couldn’t help but be moved by all the battles she has fought, both personal and political, her fight for what she believes in despite possible backlash. I also would be lying if I said that electing the first woman president wasn’t important to me. Looking up to the first woman president, someone that looks like you, sends a very important message to women and young girls. I didn’t vote for Hillary merely because Trump was a disastrous alternative. I voted for her because her vision for and love of this country were bigger than her flaws.
Election night and the next day were filled with many emotions. I couldn’t believe my eyes as she lost one battleground state after another. I was texting my friends in shock and disbelief: how could Trump be winning? At one point I couldn’t even look at the TV screen anymore and tried to go to bed, hoping to wake up to a Clinton presidency. I felt the sadness, the unexpected tears, the anger, and the disappointment that America chose a racist, sexist, xenophobic billionaire to be the next president of the United States. The night and my anxiety dragged on and before I knew it, it was morning. I heard my mom on the verge of tears as she was getting dressed. On my way to work I looked at the women on the bus and wondered if they felt the same sadness. At the office, my colleagues and I watched Hillary’s concession speech in complete silence. I felt her pain and her apology. I felt angry and sad that Hillary, who has served others for more than 25 years, fighting for a fairer, more inclusive America lost to Donald Trump, a billionaire who has boasted about sexual harassment and has relentlessly targeted minorities throughout his campaign.
I am still having a hard time accepting his presidency and I refuse to be complacent. My friends and I plan to protest on inauguration day and march for women, minorities, and LGBTQ people in DC. Looking forward, I hope that Donald Trump listens to the protests igniting around the country and will work to unite Americans after leading such a divisive, hate-filled campaign.
Despite his negative campaign, many young people viewed Trump as their messenger, one who would overthrow the system, a system deemed corrupt and bureaucratic. Unlike Clinton, he was an outsider. He promised jobs which resonated well with lots of young people struggling to live on their own (Flaccus). He tapped into their frustration and led an unprecedented political campaign. His words were unconventional and ruthless and many found that refreshing.
On the other side, several viewed his rhetoric as dangerous, vowing to vote for anyone but him. While numerous young voters supported Bernie in the primaries, they rallied behind Hillary because the alternative was far worse. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) 55% of 18-to-29 year-olds voted for Hillary, 37% voted for Trump, and 8% voted for a third-party candidate (“An Estimated”). CIRCLE researchers found that young voters tend to focus more on a candidate’s vision rather than personality (Richmond, et al.). Even though many young voters disliked Hillary, they supported her progressive agenda and message.
After this election, I see more than ever how important it is to vote. We are the future and our voices are important. While I may not agree with Hillary on everything, and despite her mistakes, I am so proud to have voted for this ‘nasty’ woman. Her voice and mission inspired me to vote and to keep fighting, despite the odds. If this election taught me anything, it is that if I truly believe in something, I have to do something about it.