Donald Trump’s presidency inaugurates four years of change, confusion and fear

We must move on from shocking, unpleasant election results

Our elementary teachers taught us to stand up to bullies who make fun of others’ appearance, culture or abilities.

Now we have a bully as our president.

Donald J. Trump, who openly belittles others and who has made bigoted, xenophobic, racist and misogynistic comments and late night posts, is the person most Americans trust. He and his running mate, Mike Pence – who has advocated conversion therapy for gays and wants Roe v. Wade “sent to the ash heap of history” – will lead us through our UB years and into adulthood.

Some of us reacted in protest by marching at UB today. Some of us stayed in bed or walked around in stunned silence. So many people tried to access the Canadian immigration website last night that it crashed.

Part of the problem is the disillusionment we feel.

We thought Hillary Clinton had this. Polling companies predicted a Democratic landslide. Eighty percent of students in a Spectrum election poll thought we would have our first woman president. Media sites and columnists across the country and across parties vilified Trump – 229 dailies and 131 weeklies from across the political spectrum endorsed Clinton. Only nine dailies and four weeklies endorsed Trump.

How could we all have been so out of touch? How could these long-trusted voices and outlets have so little impact?

We will be asking ourselves and our professors and our trusted media these questions in coming days, weeks and months.

But for now, the reality is stark: Anger, frustration and fear won. Hate trumped reason.

Trump was right when he told us the media was out of touch.

As we walk around UB today, we look at our classmates and professors differently. We fear that they were among those who secretly voted for Trump and that they will quietly become more openly racist, sexist and homophobic because Trump made it OK.

It is not OK and we must remind everyone that it will never be OK.

Yes. We lost the election. We lost a historic chance to elect a woman. President Barack Obama may be losing his legacy. But we have not lost our humanity or our drive to protect those who fear threatened, insulted or offended. Our education matters more now than ever.

We have classmates living in fear that their parents will be deported. Others worry if they will get to marry the person they love or if they have a place in a country that wants to be “great” again by making them leave or not letting their families in.

Our country needs us, the educated, to continue to fight and take a stand. Clinton and Obama have already started to help us by teaching us to lose graciously. Both have made remarkably conciliatory statements since the election and are showing us how to transfer power amicably.

We understand the desire to march, pout and howl at the results. We feel it, too. But we have to take a cue from our current leaders and stand aside with grace and listen to others.

We also have to remind our fellow millennials the importance of every vote and how crucial it is to pay attention to what elected leaders do. In New Hampshire, 2,000 votes separated the candidates. While the results trickled in from Pennsylvania, one of the most important states for Clinton, the candidates were just 15 votes apart. In Michigan, one of the most remarkable wins for Trump, 14,017 votes put him on top. That’s half of UB’s student population.

UB professors and administrators need to help – perhaps we need Democracy 101 or a First Amendment class added to the UB Gen Ed curriculum?

Indeed, why is World Civilization a requirement, but not basic lessons in our own government, press and freedom?

This election showed that Americans were active, but they weren’t informed. Eleven thousand people voted for Harambe, the gorilla shot at the Cincinnati Zoo after he killed a child in May, as a write-in candidate. Evan McMullin, a quiet third party candidate, got 18.7 percent of the vote in Utah.

Many of our peers saw this election as a joke. Is anyone laughing now?

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