A week after Donald Trump has been elected as the next President of the United States, the future of American politics looms like a giant black question mark.
The mood across the diverse Truman campus on election morning felt starkly different than the energy felt in the Student Activities Center post Trump. On November 8th, people from all walks of life had packed into the spacious room in the early evening, all eyes turned to the projector at one end of the room, watching the play-by-play of the night’s election results.
The room itself promotes diversity. Flags from countries all over the world hang from the edges of the ceiling. Ross Galvan, a fellow Truman student, sat nearby. “I think if the world could vote, they’d vote for Clinton,” he said early on in the night’s proceedings.
It was easy to sit that room, in this beautiful city, with the huge array of ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds, surrounded by the world’s banners to feel confident that I would witness a moment as historic as the election of the first female President.
But it was not so. That vast diversity accounts for different opinions, too. Different mindsets.
At one point in the evening, a young woman leaned in and made a quiet confession. “I didn’t vote. I really wanted Trump to win, but…I don’t know. I just felt like I would kill the whole country. I don’t know anything about politics. I wanted Obama to win because he’d be the first black president, but I feel like Hillary is robotic, like she’s a liar,” she said. “Trump is very open, everybody’s seen the worst of him already. He’s very honest and that’s what’s really intriguing.”
Later on, as Florida flipped from blue to red, another woman remarked: “I voted for Jill Stein. I voted my conscience. I was a Bernie supporter. Maybe if I was part of a swing state I would have voted to win. The media and everyone else tries to tell you—gets you with the fear mongering, that it’s a wasted vote, or third party candidates are on the fringe.”
Another student, Braylon Robinson, had no issue sharing his vote. “I voted Clinton.” He turned to the projector. “C’mon Clinton! She’s a highly qualified individual, plenty of experience. All of the stories that are used against her, Benghazi, the emails, they’re propaganda, muckracking. All of the controversy is just…hotter.”
Diversity will be one of the terms prominently used in the coming weeks and months as the nation begins disseminating last night’s election results. Fingers will be pointed in all directions. Black Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. White and uneducated. Whitelash. Muslims. Mexicans.
Whatever happens in the coming months and years, I remain optimistic that this diversity, the increase in the number of voices that have been heard in this country in recent years will hold fast. It’s inevitable. The idea of change that swept Barack Obama into office cannot and will not be forgotten. Whatever the next four to eight years hold in store for us as Americans, whatever victories achieved and mistakes made—they will continue to mold the ever evolving American political landscape. In the long run, whatever differences in opinion we hold, we can only work together to make this country better. Period.