US Elections 2016: Reactions from the UCR community

By Annick Wijnstra & Eden van der Moere

For many it came as a complete surprise: Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump won the 2016 US elections. After 1,5 years of campaigning, debating, and polling, the battle between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Trump has come to an end. A rather unexpected end: most preliminary polls pointed towards a victory for Clinton, and since Trump was announced the 45th president of the United States the world has been both deeply shocked and celebrating. Also within our own UCR community the tension rose high last night and students reacted to the news on social media. Tabula Rasa has rounded up your responses to the 2016 US elections – do you also want to share your opinion or your thoughts with TR? Don’t hesitate to send us a message!

Current Affairs section editor Annick Wijnstra, as a part of the board of the Roosevelt Network, organized the Roosevelt Network viewing party of the US 2016 elections. Here she shares her account: during the viewing party, the atmosphere very suddenly shifted when it became clear that Trump was in the lead in states such as Florida and North Carolina. From fun, games, and laughter, the room quickly became quiet, serious, and filled with screens. States that had been expected to go to Clinton suddenly turned Red. States that were projected Blue suddenly turned Red in the last 25% of votes being counted. So many states were too close to call. In several states, the percentage difference was at a minimum. The shock was palpable. When the event ended at 04.00, no one was actually ready for it to stop. The results were still not where we had hoped for them to be by this point. Usually, news stations are able to call the election by 04.00 our time, but this time around – nothing. I suppose that might have been a sign.

When we left, the results were still coming in. The bad feeling in the pit in my stomach only continued to grow. It felt like I was caught up in a bad game that you know you’re going to lose. Desperately wanting to reset the game, but no, no reset opportunities possible. This morning, after a few hours of sleep, I was terrified to look at my phone. Terrified of the idea that Trump might be president. Still hoping and wishing that Hillary had gotten the votes that she needed to win. That illusion was shattered as quickly as a phone screen.

First-semester student Daniël de Haas summed up his feelings regarding the news on Facebook: “All morning I have been looking for something profound to say about the American elections and, uhum, Donald Trump’s upcoming presidency, but the only thoughts that keep popping up in my head are: “fuck.”, “is there another planet to which I can emigrate?” and “holy fuck.”. However, ending on a least one reassuring note, both outcomes would have been bad: Hillary would have changed nothing on the current state of affairs and would have lead the U.S. down the drain even further. Trump, at least, will try and change something up (in the most horrendous manners for sure, but it is still, by lack of a better word, refreshing.). I am the saddest about the fact that Donald will be the role model for our young aspiring politicians, that he will inspire other hate-carrying bigots who do not quite get the concept of having an acceptable public character to follow his lead. Fuck, where do I sign earth’s petition to overthrow our new, barbarian ruler? Vive le roi!”

Many students reacted full of disbelief, anger, and fear, with Bartosz Animucki comparing the election night to another shocking event: “I guess now both 9/11 and 11/9 are days when America remembers horrible tragedies.” and Lara Hoffman wonders: “Do tears count towards this discussion?”. A lot of discussion arose about the subject of white, male supremacy, leading towards the reaction: “I think the world can agree that there’s nothing more dangerous than a rich white straight male.” Calin Marginean writes: “The US had to choose between World War and genocide. It went for genocide, it’s in the edgy phase.” and amongst the Tabula Rasa board, the most expressed emotions on Trump’s election were shock and anger, with an anonymous boardie exclaiming: “There is so much wrong with this guy they might as well have elected a goat.”.

Fear is mentioned by a lot of students and alumni who responded on social media, describing their loss of faith in the political system of America. UCR alumna Simone Landman responded on Facebook: “This election result has made me sad and afraid. Sad that so many people feel disenfranchised. Sad that so many people lost faith in the political system. Sad to see that racism and sexual abuse are still apparently not a deal breaker for people. I am afraid because I can no longer see Brexit as an isolated event. I am afraid because there are many elections coming up in 2017, and I can no longer believe that the people who promote unity rather than divide will win. I am afraid that in many places hate will start trumping love and people will forget that in the end, we’re all the same. I want to stay hopeful, but at this point I just don’t know what to do anymore.” This while Alistair Franenberg remained relatively positive upon hearing the news of Trump’s victory: “I hope it turns out that we’re all exaggerating and that just like previous elections everything will turn out relatively unchanged,” he says. “Republicans were scared that Obama’s policy would ‘ruin everything’ and, fuck it, America even lived though Bush junior. I can’t be too certain, because of course most people didn’t expect Trump to win (and here we are), but let’s just assume that there is no direct reason for WW3 or such to happen.”

Rosa de Nooijer feels very strongly about the results of the elections. She shares her thoughts with TR: “I have had a Dutch – American nationality since the moment I was born. After 20 years of being happy with an American passport I now want to get rid of the nationality as soon as possible. I am afraid of the implications that having the passport might have and I do not want to risk the consequence that it might have. Very disappointed and sad about the stupidity of people.” This is a sentiment shared by many UCR students, including Lara Hoffmann, who also cannot believe the American people voted for a man like Trump. “The reasoning behind voting for Trump just for “change” is disrespectful to all those who will be affected by his policies in the future,” she writes. “Trump’s values coincide with sexism, racism, homophobia and xenophobia. There is no benefit in this win, there is nothing you can say. This win only highlights how little the world has come to accepting each other regardless of our backgrounds.”

People see the role that education, or lack thereof, has played in this election. When looking at the demographics of the results, Trump received a great amount of support from uneducated men and women. Steven van de Graaf sees this as well: “Another perfect example of why I feel education is at the root of all problems of our modern society.” he writes. Not only education now, but also future education has played an important role in this election. Lisanne Cheizoo, UCR alumna, wonders how this election will be represented in our future education: “I am imagining that 30 years from now kids will have several history exam questions about the year 2016 – and none of them will be questions that we’re proud of having to ask them about.” Margaux Haimé hopes that people will actually learn from these results: “I hope it [Trump winning the 2016 elections] at least motivates people to make educated, motivated choices in regards to voting, but more important; to actually vote! I have a feeling a good amount of people who are now upset about Trump, which is of course a legit feeling, just shrug when it comes to their own elections…. We might all have opinions on Trump, but I feel it’s more important to maybe develop some opinion about our own current politics.”. According to Calvin Vansteensel-Curry, it has been rubbed in the faces of the elite that they no longer make up the most influential group in society: “All this while a particular set of mind elite has been under the false assumption that they not only have the broadest view which entitles them to have a say for the widest spectrum of society, but more so that they are entitled to vehemently enforce their reasoning on society and the world as a whole. More importantly, thinking it to be not only the best view, but the only reasonable one, predicting that ‘better sense will prevail’ along the lines of such reasoning that immediately places all better sense on the side of their viewpoint, alienating and dismissing all others in the process. A voice that paradoxically claims to be so broad as to understand and speak for all voices, but also dismisses or overlooks any voice that does not go along with the grain of its ‘good intentions’ and notions about how the world works. This notion along with the false sense of superiority came crashing down right before the very eyes of such arrogance this morning. Oh the times they are a changin’ and we must look to our reasoning, and more importantly look to what we may have been overlooking all this while.”.

Nonetheless, there are students who see the positive side of Trump’s upcoming presidency. An anonymous source writes to TR: “Trump’s election can mean only one thing. His speech resonated with more than just the angry, white and uneducated men. He won the minority vote, he won the [white] female vote, he won the election. His victory speech shows us the other side of Trump that the media in Europe has not been showing: a president who won in a landslide, with a majority in the senate, who wants to be everybody’s president, who wants to work together on a international level, who is grateful for his predecessors. The first thing Trump said in his speech was that he, and with him all Americans, should be grateful for the work that Hillary Clinton has done for America in the past. It seems that with the presidency in his pocket, Trump is finally willing to move beyond the petty personal politics and move the focus back to policy. We may not like it here in Europe, but we cannot ignore it. The USA has voted en masse for Donald Trump to be their president. The only question that remains is when Hillary is going to prison.” Furthermore, Amée Zoutberg points out that Trump might just be the lesser of two evils: “I honestly hope Trump doesn’t get assassinated – yes, we would get rid of a potential catastrophe of global impact, but then we would have to deal with Pence. As Renske (de Vries) said: don’t like the elections? Simply buy another one at a store near you.”.

Finally, Calvin Vansteensel-Curry shares his opinion on the elections on Facebook: “In my opinion it is a shame that the very same Americans who were scared that the democratic process of the Nation would be undermined if Trump were to win, now undermine it themselves. The electoral process has spoken, and no matter the arguments about electoral colleges being flawed, it is still the will of the people that has spoken in much the same way as it did when it elected Obama or any of the other presidents America has seen. I have seen things ranging from protests, to saying the electoral process is structural racism, to a referendum call to Californians who want to ‘Calexit’ the states. Protesting Trumps win is fundamentally protesting against the same democracy, which you claim to hold in high regard. You criticized Trump when he said he would regard the elections as rigged if he lost, and now you protest against the results of them in much the same way because they do not favor you. Democracy does not work as ‘I will have my candidate win, or protest to undermine it when she doesn’t.’ I think if people reflected they would see that is time now more than ever to come together rather than cause further divide.”

This was an overview of the UCR student community’s reaction to the US 2016 elections. Do you also want to share your opinion? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with the student community and with us!

Annick Wijnstra, Class of 2017, is a Literature and History major from Hoofddorp, the Netherlands.

Eden van der Moere, Class of 2017, is a Literature and Linguistics major from Goes, the Netherlands.


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