AT ISSUE: Donald Trump will assume the presidency
OUR TAKE: How did we not see this coming?
For better or worse, this presidential election is indicative of a political turning point in our country. In a few short months, Donald Trump will assume the presidency. To many, this news is shocking and devastating.
In an email sent to the Emerson community, President Lee Pelton asked students to understand what Emerson stands for, and what we must continue to stand for in the face of adversity.
“I want you to understand that to be fully educated you cannot be mere spectators,” Pelton said. “You must instead stand for something. Through intellectual inquiry, intercultural understanding, and civic responsibility, I want you to know in your hearts the true value of a good education and its power to create light and liberty and beauty and hope and truth out of a sea of darkness and despair.”
We, along with many other students, professors, and faculty members, are wondering how we did not see this coming. The polls, the leading voices in both sides of reputable, legacy politics, and every seemingly unbiased news source all said Hillary. We were living in a bubble, apparently. Because the majority of America did not agree.
But maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by these results. They reflect the disenfranchisement of poor, rural whites—a group that usually doesn’t feel motivated to speak up in our government. Yet it seems that the deafening sound of their voices has been ignored by the press, the entertainment industry, and the government—until now. The Rust Belt has suffered for a long time. Regardless of whether or not he plans on following through, president-elect Donald Trump promised to listen and speak for this segment of the American population.
And now, what do we do? For the years most of us have been politically aware, we’ve had a president who has supported minorities. Obama called out institutional racism in the police force. Joe Biden spoke out about rape culture on college campuses. Michelle Obama promoted equal pay and rejected glass ceilings. And so, for the past eight years, minority voices got to be heard. But Trump and his administration will not speak for us. So now, we need to speak for ourselves. As media makers, we need to continue these conversations and fight to keep them in the spotlight. It’s going to be harder without government support, but our art is how we can combat this.
These results also serve as a wake up call. Perhaps we really have been ignoring middle America. Perhaps we have been isolating a large swath of individuals. Perhaps we have been excluding conservative perspectives from our art, our stories, our articles. And because of that, the people cried out for attention and respect in the only way they could—by voting for Donald Trump in an uproarious power grab. That’s an action we can’t will or shout away. It is reality and subsequent elections will only continue to be more surprising if we refuse to try and understand one another. As hard as it may seem right now, we must listen to those who use a vote for Trump as a way of saying, “You don’t listen to us. You judge us. And now we are demanding your attention.” Well, you have it.
But as media makers, we need to regain the confidence of the public—because, as an industry, we failed in the lead up to this election. To do this, we need to better understand our population, even if it’s something that is hard or painful to understand. We need to get out of these bubbles of Facebook algorithm aggregation and liberal campuses and actually see this country for what it is. And we need to obtain information and disseminate it accurately and let people make their own educated decisions.