The night of Nov. 8, 2016, will always be ingrained in our memories.
We worked in the newsroom late into the night, watching election results roll in as we prepared articles for each candidate’s potential win. Just like almost every other news organization in the country, we were confident we would be running Hillary Clinton’s victory piece.
A string of wins for Clinton at 8 p.m. turned in now-President Donald Trump’s favor at 11. Political commentators gazed in disbelief as bright red states popped up on the screen. Our managing editor’s normally excitable dog, Bentley, mirrored the eerily quiet room.
“You tell your kids, ‘Don’t be a bully,'” CNN commentator Van Jones said after Clinton conceded. “You tell your kids, ‘Don’t be a bigot’… and then you have this outcome. You have people putting children to bed tonight and they are afraid of breakfast. They’re afraid of ‘How do I explain this to my children?'”
We solemnly retreated to our homes and watched Trump’s victory speech with housemates. In the aftershock of the greatest political event of our time, a single hopeful thought remained in our heads — “Maybe, just maybe, things will turn out all right.”
The next day was gloomy, rainy and cold, reflecting a mood that would only intensify during Trump’s first year in office. Since then, one statement describes our growing frustration.
“This is not normal.”
It is not normal when the president rarely seems like the one pulling the strings in the White House. It’s troubling when a Special Counsel investigation into possible collusion with Russia consistently reveals coincidental meetings and vastly reduced plea deals. It’s terrifying to think that on Election Day, there were nearly 63 million people willing to look the other way for the sake of their dear leader.
The cult of personality surrounding Trump has slowly been unveiled as a stunningly obvious authoritarian power grab, and his administration has been exercising fascist practices, principles and propaganda.
Ridiculous claims that ran rampant throughout the presidential campaign continue to this day, puzzle pieces of the greater “Big Lie.” The Big Lie is a propaganda term that originated in Nazi Germany, in which leaders tell lies in such a grandiose fashion that some of them begin to circulate within national conversation. More generally, if someone is always telling huge lies, supporters will latch onto smaller ones as truth.
Trump also has a history of discrediting media outlets for covering “fake news” regarding his administration. All, that is, except for two — Fox News and Breitbart.
Both organizations, as well as Trump, engage in “whataboutism,” a Soviet-era propaganda technique where any criticism leveled on the state is redirected to say something else is worse. Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin have a history of employing whataboutism in response to human rights violations — it’s no coincidence that the far right does the same in its obsessions with Clinton’s campaign and former President Barack Obama’s administration
There are intelligent, competent people of all backgrounds who tenaciously believe Trump’s every word boosts the stock market. There are caring, loving people who not only support a man accused of sexual assault, but refuse to conduct a proper investigation on the former leader of the free world. There are humble, hard-working families who think it is in their best interest is to pay $3.4 billion more in taxes while households making at least $75,000 per year pay $16.2 billion less.
Witnessing this unfold has changed how we, as well as countless friends, family members and peers, view the world. We’ve completely lost trust in the baby boomers running the reality show we call the United States.
What reasons have they given us to believe anything they say?
Reducing the size of national parks so dying industries can reap short-term benefits does not progress society. Discrediting the Paris Climate Agreement, establishing the U.S. as the only nation in the world to reject the treaty after Nigeria and Syria signed earlier this year, does not progress society. Constructing a tax plan that demolishes incentives to study in the U.S. does not progress society.
Imagine, if you will, a more politically savvy Trump-like figure — one with the common sense to keep a consistent narrative while lying, staying calm and collected.
Placing this hypothetical leader in the presidency has a very real possibility of destroying more progress. Luckily, younger generations seem to agree. We’ve thrived in the grassroots for the past year and must remain voices of reason in today’s age of ignorance.
Young voters turned out in record numbers for local elections in 2017, rejecting politicians campaigning on race-baiting identity politics and electing candidates like Danica Roem, the first openly transgender woman to win a state seat. The “Silence Breakers” lifted a veil of secrecy from sexual misconduct in American culture that continues to ripple across the globe. Meanwhile, the true faces of our fellow citizens’ social values have been uncovered through their support for people like Sen. Roy Moore, backed by Trump despite being accused of sexual advances toward minors.
On Dec. 5, Obama urged citizens to remain involved in the democratic process. “You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly,” he said.
“Presume there was a ballroom here in Vienna in the late 1920s or ’30s that looked and seemed as if it, filled with the music and art and literature that was emerging, would continue into perpetuity,” Obama said, referencing the rise of Nazi Germany. “And then 60 million people died. An entire world was plunged into chaos.”
The actions of the Trump administration have reignited our generation’s desire to make things right, not just for ourselves but for every member of our society.
If nothing else, our generation looks like it might come out on the right side of history.