Where Does America Go From Here?


Ryan Nguyen

After president Trump’s stunning upset in November’s presidential election, where does that leave Aloha High School? Months after the election, asking students how they felt about the election results gave me a myriad of replies:

“Scared.”

“Excited.”

“Shocked.”

“Hopeful.”

Although the majority of AHS students aren’t eligible to vote, many students were enraptured by the surrealness of last year’s political events: a favorite meme of a green frog becoming recorded as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation league; presidential nominee Hillary Clinton becoming infamous for “just chillin’… in Cedar Rapids”; and Iowa high school student Brady Olson earning about 8% of the vote in a few states’ public residential polls under an unforgettable pseudonym (warning: link contains profanity). Only weeks ago did Trump’s infamous plan to “repeal and replace” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) with his own legislation, the American Health Care Act of 2017, collapse under a divided Republican vote. However, the House of Representatives passed “Trumpcare” by a narrow margin of 217-213, which needed a 50% margin (216 votes) to continue into the Senate, according to CNN.

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President Trump is center stage in this year’s political arena. (Photo: Getty Images)

Senior Daniel Churchill, a bright red “Make America Great Again” hat on his head, tapped his feet. His cowboy boots shone under the fluorescent lights of the woodshop. “The state was brought here by the road FDR started us on, LBJ kept us on, Reagan tried to save us from, [and the one] Obama shoved down our throats.”  He sighed. “[T]he nation was poorer for it. I’m ecstatic to see over 20 trillion dollar debt be cut down under Trump.” I asked him why he was so open about his support for Trump in such a tense climate.

“[Trump] has an American-first ideology, that [kind that’s] needed to recover from the “America-last” Obama administration.

“[America] will soar in everything — the free market fixes everything.”

I honestly thought that we lived in an a [country] where acceptance was a big deal, and that love was more important than hate.”

On the other side of the political spectrum, senior Jordan Ashmore paused before she responded to my question. “I was disappointed originally,” she begins. “I honestly thought that we lived in a [country] where acceptance was a big deal and that love was more important than hate. I honestly see it now as a strengthening [factor] for the Democrats, or at least that’s my [perspective].

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Senior Jordan Ashmore (Photo: Kiara Yin-Husband)

“I know that, somewhere, the girl who’s gonna be the [first female] president is sitting, watching this election. And maybe because Trump won, it inspires her to go into politics.

“We’ve progressed too far to move back significantly, but I think that these next four years social change is going to halt or even go backward slightly. But I think that after [Trump’s term] is over, I think the nation is going to realize that [he] is not the right answer… I think that we’re going to move back a little bit, but we’re always going to push forward more.

“I supported [Clinton for her] pro-choice [policies]… it’s a big deal to me that she’s very big on pro-choice [ideas], women in the workforce and… diversity. And you know, she’s going to continue affirmative action and I believe that’s very important, because we need more diversity in the United States. And also she’s big on LGBTQ rights and she wants to continue Roe v. Wade, and just… I’m more on the side of equality.

Other Clinton supporters had different feelings about the president-elect.

“I am completely horrified,” shuddered senior Rae Salo. “All the violence happening, between violent protests and violent crimes and [rising] hate crimes against [minorities] since Trump was elected is scary.

“Will there be more violence? Will people still be writing “White Is Right” with a swastika beneath in a library bathroom at Reed College?”

“Will there be more violence? Will people still be writing “White Is Right” with a swastika beneath in a library bathroom at Reed College?” she said, referencing the incident where students graffitied bathrooms with racial epithets at the small Southeast Portland college. “Will hate be more prevalent? I think so, and that’s what I’m afraid of. When people’s hatred is validated, they feel more comfortable sharing it.

“[P]eople feel that they are in the right, hating someone or a group of people when their hatred is validated,”

“[P]eople feel that they are in the right, hating someone or a group of people when their hatred is validated,” she continued. “When Trump was elected, he validated many people’s hate [against] many groups of people.”

VIOLENCE SPARKED BY ELECTION RESULTS

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Protesters watch a flaming object burn during an anti-Trump protest. (Photo Credit: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

After Trump’s victory was announced, protests erupted in cities nationwide. Signs held high in the air, declaring “Impeach Trump” and “Not My President” are held by protesters. Social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter had called community members out onto the streets, according to Buzzfeed News. Massive protests shut down roadways, generated student walkouts across the nation, and in some cases destroyed entire streets. Violent protest is remembered in the shape of its destructive aftermath: broken shop windows, crumbling brick walls, and ashes of trampled anti-Trump posters littering the streets of cities.

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A “yuge” Trump head is burned in effigy during an anti-Trump protest in front of Los Angeles City Hall. (Caption and Photo Credit: Marcus Yam)

PEACEFUL PROTEST: DOES IT WORK?

In cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and Portland, however, nonviolent resistance groups such as Portland’s Resistance have sprung up to protest the election results. The group’s Facebook page states their vision of empowered communities creating real change in their communities through direct action, nonviolent political advocacy, and community development.

“Our movement will endure, gather, and thrive.  Each act of oppression spurs us to recommit our hands and our hearts.  We work, we grow, we change — we resist!”

In most cities, there was some peaceful protest. At AHS, rumors of a walkout reminiscent to the 2015 Forest Grove High School walkouts surfaced but failed to materialize. The Oregonian reported that the former attracted hundreds of students from five different high schools — Aloha, Beaverton, Glencoe, Hillsboro, and Liberty — to instigate walkouts over a banner that read “build a wall” was hung in a Forest Grove High School hallway. Similar anti-Trump protests inspired students all over the nation as the election results were finalized. Videos of student protests from Des Moines East High School in Iowa to Berkeley High School in California were captured by journalists all over the nation.

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High-school students in Portland peacefully protest the election of Donald Trump. (Photo Credit: Gillian Flaccus / The Associated Press)

Churchill laughs. “Peaceful protest is useless [and it] will change nothing, [and] Violent protest is [just an] excuse for crime.”

Ashmore pauses for a moment, before saying, “I feel that the people who are being violent in these protests are not standing for the same things that I believe in.  They’re not protesting the electoral college, they’re not protesting rape culture, they’re not protesting this racist man who’s our [president].

“[In regards to the peaceful protesters], it’s [their First Amendment rights], I… believe that they have the right to [protest]. Without protest, our democracy wouldn’t be a democracy.”

“I think peaceful protest is fantastic,” began Salo. “More power to ‘ya. It’s our constitutional right to peacefully assemble, why not exercise it? Sit in a road, block traffic and chant all you want. Fight for what you believe in. I’ll fight for your right to assemble.

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Protesters blocked a street and stopped traffic during an anti-Trump demonstration in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. (Photo Credit: Ted S. Warren / AP)

When [protest] becomes violent is when there’s a problem. Destroying property or putting people in danger is where one has to consider what they’re doing and whether or not it’s justified.”

“I don’t like what they’re doing,” began junior Daniel Holm. “but I can’t stop them.” Holm sighed. “[The violent protesters] need to stop because they’re endangering themselves as well as others.”

VOTING FOR A THIRD-PARTY — STANDING UP FOR YOUR BELIEFS OR A WASTE OF A VOTE?

Clinton winning the popular vote but not winning the election led to fiery debate over the existence of the electoral college; the AHS Speech and Debate club even sponsored a debate between four social studies teachers over the issue. I asked students for their opinion on the role of third-parties and the electoral college in American democracy and if they would ever consider voting for a third-party candidate. The electoral college is the system by which the president and vice president of the United States are formally elected. When a presidential candidate wins a plurality of votes in a state, the entirety of that state’s electoral votes are delegated to that candidate, as per the unit rule. Note that a plurality of votes is different from a majority of votes; the former simply refers to whoever received the most votes out of the total candidate pool, and the latter refers to whomever captures 51% of the vote. The number of electors a state receives is equal to the sum of that state’s number of representatives in the House of Representatives and that state’s number of Senators in the Senate. 

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A graphic showing the winners of each state’s electoral district. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia)

Ashmore stated, “Yes. I wouldn’t [have] in this election because I honestly loved Hillary and all the things that she stood for.

But in the future, if I ever come to a point where I see a Democratic candidate and a Republican candidate who both don’t represent my opinions, and there’s a third-party candidate who [does], I would vote for them.”

“No,” said Churchill. “I understand that we have a [two-party system], and [I believe voting] third-party… is useless.”

“I don’t think I would,” stated Salo. “Under the electoral college, I don’t think a third party candidate would win.”

“I think [the current two-party system] is pretty trash. I’m sorry if that’s a harsh way to put it.”

David Brannan, a senior, replied, “I would feel better [voting] for a [third-party candidate] who actually represents what I believe in, and who stands [for] my beliefs.”

“I think [the current two-party system] is pretty trash. I’m sorry if that’s a harsh way to put it.” Senior Carter Wilson laughs. “Having two options just isn’t enough; there are too many opinions in the country [with over 320 million people] that need to be represented. I think having just two parties just isn’t enough… there needs to be a way to represent more ideas.

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Senior Carter Wilson (Photo: Kiara Yin-Husband)

I [believe] that voting for a third party in this election would help… get [third parties] up to that 15% threshold [that’s required] to get them on the ballots in all 50 states. In future elections, it would give them further funding so that they can have a higher chance of winning [government] seats. This furthers democracy as it… gives [voters] more options.”

I invite readers to lead their friends and family into courageous conversations that are thoughtful, nuanced, and most importantly are tolerant of other’s opinions. Perpetuating further hate and refusing to listen to each other is unbecoming of the increasingly diverse democracy we live in today.

“As a Republican,” sighed Holm. “I don’t feel like I can share my opinion without getting hate.”

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