Aftermath of Trump's Win: Meeting Obama, #Calexit, & Hate Crimes on the Rise
After a long, hard-fought, painful election cycle – we’ve reached the end. Well, in theory at least – the electors of the Electoral College could still (in theory) change the results by acting as so-called ‘faithless electors’ and voting against the results of their party or states. However, this falls in the category of being unlikely in the extreme. Essentially, a far flung possibility that is offering a modicum of hope to dissenting liberals and independents, and perhaps we can explore more of that later. For the moment let’s look at some of the responses to the election results and the next steps we’re expecting.
Let’s start with some of the positive, because at the moment America really needs some examples of unity and positivity. Current President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump met at the White House today. The focus of the meeting was, as with every transition from one President to another, facilitating the transition and preparing the President-elect for the challenges ahead in a way only a sitting President can do1. While political attacks and divisive rhetoric are commonplace on the campaign trail, this election season has seen more hostility and anger than any in recent memory. Seeing these two very different but very commanding leaders come together to work towards uniting the country offers a much needed shot of positive energy into otherwise challenging proceedings.
Unfortunately, though, the news cycle isn’t simply full of calls for unity or progression. We’re also seeing plenty of backlash against the results of the election. Now, this is a fairly common response – every election cycle has a party that losses, and that is never received well by that party’s supporters. However – just as we saw extremes of rhetoric and combativeness on the campaign trail, we’re seeing similar extremes in the aftermath. One major example of this would be #Calexit. It refers to the desire of some Californians to secede from the union, and the interest and awareness seems to be exploding in the wake of Trump’s victory2. Not that we should be expecting to drop to 49 states in the immediate future, but the movement for California to leave the union does seem to be garnering more and more attention and direction.
And then we must reach the topic that is painfully important and absolutely terrifying: hate crimes rising in the wake of the Trump victory. Attacks on Muslims, particularly Muslim women, appear on the rise, with attacks being reported in multiple locations across the nation. Two particularly attacks were reported through the San Jose State University police & San Diego State University police345, but they hardly stand alone. Given President-elect Trump’s strong anti-Islamic rhetoric and xenophobic positioning during the election, many are speculating the rise in these attacks is directly tied to Trump’s victory assuring perpetrators that they have little to fear in a Trump-led America. In the San Diego case in particular, the attackers specifically commented on Trump and Muslims35. It raises disturbing questions about where we are headed as a nation, and is fueling growing fear in minority communities – fears that are clearly justified based on stories dominating the current news cycle.
My hope was that if Trump were to win, we’d see him shift into the role of the Presidency. That we’d see him accept the mantle with grace and humility, and that he’d pull back from the rhetoric of inflaming hate and anger and attempt to calm the forces he had rallied to claim a victory. While Trump has made efforts to calm his rhetoric and reach out to liberals and conservatives while preparing to assume office, he’s yet to rein in the forces he marshalled using fear and anger. His lack of effort in this regard is horrifying, but the question of how well one can curtail mob-mentality invoked with hate leaves me wondering if he can still control the surge he began. One hopes that Trump will be a President for all Americans, as he claimed he would be in his acceptance speech, but if he is unwilling to denounce the violence taking place linked to his name – that can never be the case.