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COMMENTARY: Trump pushed divisive rhetoric, so why should we unite?

This a response to Ashley Wang’s article, “ America must practice political tolerance,” which should have been titled “America must tolerate racism (or at least the threat of it).”

The two candidates chosen for the 2016 election could not have been more different. One, a man with misogynistic ideals and no political experience willing to say anything to win over angry people with discriminatory voices. The other, a woman with a clear policy agenda who worked her way up the political ladder for 30 years. While not perfect, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endured decades of smear campaigns and fought for women’s rights, healthcare, immigration and more. Being a man was the only experience she did not have, and she never heard the end of that one.

We were given the easiest choice — a competent, experienced politician or an untrustworthy, temperamental man who doesn’t pay taxes and went bankrupt multiple times. The problem with this election was President Donald J. Trump’s ability to gain as much attention as he did.

Instead of voting against him, many voters in America decided that their privilege was worth more than the lives of women, immigrants, minorities and all systemically marginalized people. Sure, the bipartisan goal should be to achieve a greater future, but that was not Trump’s goal.

How great is it that we have turned into a country that fights for minorities and stands up against discriminatory people when they vote for someone like Trump?

The day after the election, my news feed was flooded with posts attacking those who voted third-party. Their reasoning being that any third-party vote was a vote for Trump, and they were absolutely right.

I need to emphasize how dire this election was for so many people, both in and outside of the United States. People were (and are) scared for their lives with the possibility of Trump’s America looming. He incited violence against naysayers. The risk was far too high to vote for a third-party candidate we all knew would not steal the election. Third-party voters decided the chance to make a political statement was more important than the lives of marginalized people. All change starts with small steps, but a general election is too “yuge” of a step to actually invoke change. In order for a third-party candidate to win, the country must start with small, local elections to build momentum and eventually break through the deeply-rooted two-party system.

Our country suffers from lack of political involvement. About half of the population showed up to vote in the election. Many say the results show that we were “out-of-touch” with certain pockets of the population, but in reality, those pockets were the out-of-touch ones. Our decline in political involvement is a direct result of Republican obstructionism. They first won congressional control because of "whitelash" against the first black president. Former President Barack Obama’s influence posed a threat to their white identity. The great influx of Democrats in 2008 shook the Right to their core, as Republicans felt their power would never regain steam. Republican failure to pursue bipartisanship under Obama caused Americans to believe their government could not deliver results. Bias media drove this idea home by placing all blame on Obama. Despite undeniable proof of his improvements to the economy, healthcare and protections of minority populations, Republicans staunchly opposed him and created a nationwide political rift. Americans became so sick of inactivity, they felt that a reality star for president was actually the answer to their prayers.

Trump took office based on a platform of "us vs. them” proliferated by his divisive rhetoric, and now we are expected to unite solely because he is president? I don’t think so. I do not support the destruction of property seen after the inauguration, but are we supposed to go quietly when the Leader of the Free World is the most under-qualified candidate in modern history, especially when 3 million more people voted for Clinton? Make no mistake, we are watching our country fall apart because Trump is choosing personal interest over millions of American lives (including those who voted for him). We have become a population who will have to fight tooth and nail for basic human rights in the coming years.

Food for thought: While Trump voters may not directly endorse the oppression of minority groups, they, at the very least, did not see racism, sexism, or xenophobia as deal-breakers for the most important job in the country. Stop demanding tolerance to intolerance because “it’s their opinion.” Stop normalizing Trump and his actions. This is not normal. Stand-up, fight back and revolt.

Madelyn Hutton is a School of Engineering junior.

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