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America at a Crossroads

By Adam Hornbuckle
Political Columnist

Today in America people are uncertain and nervous for what the future may hold. Some are excited for this drastic change in politics and optimistic for a Donald Trump presidency. Others are fearful for their loved ones and possibly even for themselves. This is what division looks like.

Photo courtesy of Jeniel Terrero May graduate and Post alumnus, Jeniel Terrero, partook in the protest march in New York City following the election results. These protests have taken place all over the country, where masses flock the streets in alliance against President-elect Trump.
Photo courtesy of Jeniel Terrero – May graduate and Post alumnus, Jeniel Terrero, partook in the protest march in New York City following the election results. These protests have taken place all over the country, where masses flock the streets in alliance against President-elect Trump.

Members of the African-American, Latino, Muslim and Asian-American communities are feeling worried for what this will mean for their friends and their families. Will Donald Trump follow through on his pledges to deport and prosecute immigrants? And how will Trump’s ‘law and order’ stance affect the inner city communities that have already been divided by police shootings?

Many in the LGBTQ community are anxious about how far Donald Trump will take his rhetoric on transsexual Americans and marriage equality. Will Donald Trump work to overturn national marriage equality, and how will his Supreme Court nomination affect the already disenfranchised LGBTQ community? Women are concerned for the same reason. Will Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nomination swing the court to repeal women’s reproductive rights?

The Republican Party, with the Nov. 8 Election Day victory, took control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. Republicans are the strongest they have been in over a decade and this is empowering Donald Trump’s supporters. Will these supporters continue to support the controversial and divisive ideas of the Trump campaign?

A Watershed for US Politics

There have only been five U.S. Presidents that have had no experience in elected office. Three of them came from the military (Eisenhower, Grant and Taylor). One had experience as a judge and as a secretary of war (Taft). And one had experience as secretary of commerce (Hoover). With Trump as president, we are in uncharted waters.

Trump’s campaign was unique in nature; it was not exactly a grassroots campaign, but more a hybrid between a grassroots campaign and a soapbox campaign. Trump used large-scale rallies, apparel and slogans to captivate the U.S. public instead of the traditional approach of media advertisement and large scale ground efforts. Trump’s campaign was much more a movement than a campaign, similar in nature to Bernie Sanders’ campaign; this, in my view, marks the future of campaigning.

One major thing to watch in Trump’s presidency is how he will interact with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This may be a turning point for US-Russian relations as Putin has already been reaching out to Trump offering partnership. Whether this change will be for better or worse will be seen only in time.

The major takeaway from Trump’s campaign, and this election in total is that Americans are fed up with business as usual in Washington D.C. Do not be confused, merely 11 months ago Trump was branded as a ‘protest candidate.’ He was seen as being the product of the government’s gridlock, and now he will lead the government. It’s funny how things work out.

How Democrats should go forward

For many Democrats, this feels like the end of the world, like the roof has come crashing in. However, this is not the end, just a new challenge. The most responsible response to this new challenge is pragmatism. Democrats need to at least make an effort to be pragmatic under a Trump presidency. To say it simply, Donald Trump is now our president-elect and we need to make the best of this.

The Democratic Party needs to put aside distractions and plan ahead. Democrats need to rally the party together for midterm elections in two years. The Republicans retained control over both chambers of Congress after the Nov. 8 election, and Democrats need to focus in order to retake at least one of them.

The Democrats almost retook the Senate, and flipping the House has not been all that difficult in the past under a controversial presidency.

The Democratic Party needs to unify under the leadership of Senator Chuck Schumer, the presumed new minority leader of the Senate. Schumer has been a mainstay in the Senate for years now. In addition, Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, remains a head for the Democrats.

There are other stars in the Democratic party, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and mainstays who will fight for party values such as Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, and Richard Blumenthal. And finally the Democrats have future stars in Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris. There are a whole lot of assets remaining in the Democratic party.

Democrats are going to be asked to work with Republicans to find common ground on less controversial issues, like a new infrastructure bill. However, they will be challenged to defend their progress made in the fields of women’s rights and healthcare at all costs. The fight to maintain Planned Parenthood funding and the Affordable Care Act will be uphill climbs, but it’s a battle the Democrats need to fight.

How Republicans should go forward

The majority of Republicans, whether they supported Trump or not, are celebrating right now. This is the turning of the tide in their eyes, the beginning of a great four years. But the challenge the Republicans must meet right now is to remain humble in the face of this victory. It’s now their job to unite the nation and gloating or being malicious will only divide us further. It will be hard enough to bring the 60 million Americans who voted Democrat to unify together as is.

Republicans need to be aware that they now have a great responsibility. Having control of both the White House and Congress is the ultimate political power; they are now steering the ship. These next two years will be a decisive time for America’s geopolitical position, and the Republicans need to be sure to not blow it.

The Republicans in D.C need to decide if they are going to work with the Democrats or work against the Democrats. Will they try to find common ground and unite the nation or will they deliberately work to take away from the Democrats? The latter will only divide the nation further.

Finally, Republicans need not to get too far ahead of themselves. Can Trump really build a wall that stretches itself 2,000 miles? Where will the money come from and how will he secure it? Will Donald Trump really institute term limits for Congress, and if he tries, how will this affect his relationship with the Republican-led Congress? And how can Donald Trump bring back industry, if he builds the factories that will be mostly robotized anyway?

Where does the unity come from?

America is currently being divided by ill feelings and divisive words. Many wonder if it’s possible to unite; only time will tell if it is or not. But one certainty is that unity will have to come from the top first. Donald Trump needs to be the one who begins the unification process.

Republicans need to reach their hand out to the Democrats and be prepared to work together in a collegial fashion. The divisive rhetoric needs to be ditched and we need to remain not only strong, but smart under the flag of the United States of America. This is our only hope to remain unified.

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