The Prowl

Many Miles Before We Sleep

Anya Mansell and Kathryn Moratti

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City sounds of whistles and derogatory words drown anxious heel clicking, and a woman hugs her coat tighter to her body and rushes home. A girl sprints toward a magazine stand and gravitates toward Popular Science, but her mother tugs her away, handing her an issue of Glamour. A fearful girl folds her hijab away. Words sting in a man’s ears, as his friends joke about him being deported. He laughs it off and swallows the knot in his throat.

In the wake of the most tumultuous presidential campaign and controversial election the United States has ever seen, America is clearly a country divided. When have there ever been more protesters than inauguration spectators? Donald Trump’s November 8 victory brought to the forefront issues that have been blistering between our ever-diverging political factions for years. Barack Obama’s presidency oversaw a lot of social change, as his campaign promised. Gay marriage was legalized, a win for liberals after decades of argument and fighting. America had its first ever black president and for eight years was under democratic leadership. Debates over abortion, climate change, gun rights and other deeply rooted partisan issues heated up, and Donald Trump’s win was – in part – a reaction by conservatives to the rapidly changing social norms in a society settling firmly into the millennium. Some of the population was tired of the decades of stagnation in the fight for human rights, and the rest was frightened and angered at change that came too fast for them. Making matters more complicated, Trump lost the popular vote, and only won because of the electoral college, something democrats have wanted to get rid of since Al Gore’s “loss” in 2000. Since 1988, when George H. W. Bush was elected president, only one Republican has won the popular vote: George W. Bush in 2004. This is the second time in our generation’s lifetime in which a democrat won the popular vote and did not win the presidency.

Stubbornness and radicalism characterize political discourse in America, making compromise a relic of the past. Conservatives and liberals are polarized and steadfast in their views; this party devotion and the growing notion that the opposite party is the enemy is part of what has fueled the ire behind Trump’s win. Let us make this clear. This is not a denouncement of the Republican party. It is however, a dumbfounded, terrified and furious discussion at how, in 2016, a demagogue like Trump became one of the most powerful people in the world, and what this means.

This election has put a magnifying glass on America’s problems. It’s no secret that this country is pervaded with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and every other prejudice under the sun. The issue that Trump’s win has made unignorable is that there are two contradictory views as to how America is to proceed after these recent years of change: we can continue in that direction or revert.

Trump’s win was born out of many different variables. He used desperation, openly asking rally audiences “What do you have to lose?” and used fear and anger, accusing Mexican immigrants of “taking our jobs” and being “rapists.” Trump’s win came also from party loyalty, as is the case for many Americans as they cast their vote on either side. Hatred for Hillary Clinton also contributed to his vote tally, and Clinton’s past consumed much of the rhetoric surrounding the election and the justification for supporting Trump.

Hillary Clinton walked the campaign trail emblazoned with a scarlet C for Criminal. Though there were valid reasons not to support Hillary Clinton, there is no denying that she was a better and safer choice than Donald Trump. It would be absurd to say that Hillary Clinton’s loss (or any woman’s loss) against any male candidate was the product of sexism. However, in this case, it largely was. There were logical concerns over Clinton’s past, and many Trump supporters hid behind the veil of “emails” and “Benghazi,” yet at the end of the day, a woman who had more political experience than most candidates and who was campaigning for progress, fairness and opportunity lost to a man who had absolutely no experience in politics and who 370 economists publically warned against. Still, many view this past election as the win of a powerful and successful businessman who wants what is best for Americans – “real Americans” that is – and as a loss of an evil, corrupt, unlawful woman who threatened public security.

Like Clinton, Trump’s past was also a weapon used against him, yet the label “criminal” didn’t brand him so deeply. During his campaign, reporters and the public endlessly accused Donald Trump as being racist. In February of 2016, Huffington Post reporters Daniel Marans and Lydia O’Connor described the depth of the racist behavior the Trumps’ company exhibited in the 1970s. The Justice Department initially accused the Trumps’ company of having special terms and rules for African American clients when compared to those for caucasians. The business deceived African Americans by claiming that there were not any more apartments open for rent. Trump responded that those allegations were not only false, but absurd.  He then filed a lawsuit of $100 million dollars claiming defamation. Never actually admitting to exhibiting this prejudiced behavior, the company resolved the lawsuit and ensured that no discrimination of any group considered a minority would happen. He compromised by giving a weekly vacancy report of his buildings to the New York Urban League, an organization for civil rights, and permitted to let the NYUL choose applicants.

Where is the line between news and sensationalism, between unbiased journalism and dangerous negligence? There are no more adamant proponents of impartial and objective journalism than us, but this election was different in every way. Donald Trump’s election and the months of campaigning, polling and tweeting that came before it prove that this election means throwing out the rulebook and starting again. Many bitterly joked election night that we shouldn’t forget to set back our clocks 50 years. However, even if you told the most ardent conservative in 1966 that a man who had made sexual comments about his own daughter, bragged about assaulting women, gained infamy decades prior through trashy reality shows, ogled beauty queens, garnered numerous bankruptcies and had no political experience, he would have thought you were describing a nightmare he’d had.

And this is a nightmare, but not one we can wake up from any time soon.

Liberals lamented about what would come of a Trump presidency. In his first 100 days, he’s already stepped on the First Amendment through his ban of immigration from largely Muslim countries, a clear violation of the establishment clause, and censuring  the media of any criticism of him, even referring to them as the enemy. Trump later issued a second ban, now with Iraq removed from the prohibited countries list.

During his election, Trump repeatedly reinforced his position to move illegal immigrants out of the U.S. Last September, Melissa Bartick of the Huffington Post article reported that Trump has been accused by two of his company’s previous models of not complying with immigration laws in employing foreign models. Allegedly, the models were not working legally and did not receive adequate payment. Two models that used to work under Trump’s company claimed that the company pressed them to mislead customs officials about their purpose of being in the U.S. and where they were planning to stay. Barctick also includes the fact that despite all of this, Trump has never been convicted of these allegations.

Throughout the years, several women have come forward reporting that Donald Trump assaulted them. Donald Trump’s now ex-wife, Ivana Trump, implied that he had raped her, yet later withdrew this claim, according to David Graham of The Atlantic. During the election, a video was also exposed making Trump notorious for saying “Grab them by the [expletive]. You can do anything,” and  “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” The weight of these words rang through the ears of a majority of the women, revealing that someone who is supposed to be the face of the country and the morals that the people stand for, had boasted about using his social status to touch women. After the public outrage over these comments, Trump released an apology claiming that he never portrayed himself as a  “perfect person” and that “anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am,” USA TODAY reports. However, USA TODAY also revealed that Trump said, “Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course [about women]… I apologize if anyone was offended.”  Again, Trump is not taking the full weight of being responsible for his actions. There is no apology suitable for sexual assault.

Women have spent centuries fighting to gain respect and equal treatment, and Donald Trump’s win is proof that we still have a lot to do to gain equality and respect in society.

Though we can never give up and accept an dividing agitator like Donald Trump, we also cannot give up hope. We are just starting our lives, and we have the choice: to vote, to decide, to make the difference we want to see in the world. That can never happen if we give up because of one bad election.

It is said that “real journalism” is dead, thus discrediting what these media outlets publish; however, maybe it is alive and is fighting to help us see Trump for who he is.

Real journalism has proven to be powerful enough to expose corruptness in the highest of places. Every time a candidate opens his or her mouth, it is an opportunity to speak his truth and connect with the people – to lead the people in the right moral and inspired direction, not a path carved by hate. It actually appears that Trump has only continued to gouge his own reputation.

Do you remember the world before America became consumed with news of Trump and the 2016 election? There was always another story about police brutality, LGBT rights being violated, issues of refugees or the more blatant inequalities between men and women. Yet, Trump was the raging water that broke the dam and gave way for individuals to speak their minds.

Don’t believe it? In November of 2016, Natalie Musumeci of The New York Post wrote  “The Ku Klux Klan couldn’t be happier about the presidential election of Donald Trump.” Musumeci reports that this egregious group even threw a parade to praise Trump’s presidential win. Trump’s victory and actions during the election encouraged this group to feel comfortable to publicly advocate their atrocious beliefs. David Duke wrote on Twitter “Make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump! #MAGA.” Trump appeared on the famous show “60 Minutes” after the election and told his supporters to stop any violent or discriminatory acts.

Lately, citizens have been organizing and interacting in peaceful protests, an exercise of their First Amendment rights, as an effort to reason with Trump. On January 21, 2017, millions of women marched across the country in opposition to Trump’s inauguration and his views concerning reproductive rights, civil rights and other issues.

One good outcome of Trump’s victory is the revelation of the issues that were boiling underneath the surface in America, which has caused many citizens to come together. Yes, we have many improvements to make to our country in order to truly be the “Land of the Free”. If anything, we the people are being given an opportunity not to run and hide from Trump, but to face his ideologies and actions head on and do our duty as citizens and human beings – fight for what is right.

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Many Miles Before We Sleep