It was all just a formality, or so we thought. Coming off of a run of astronomical popularity as the first Secretary of State serving President Obama’s administration, Hillary Clinton would announce her candidacy early and rely on a smooth-sailing twenty-one months to rapidly and systematically expel her wannabe opponents, whose motives were (mostly) pure and intentions in (mostly) good interest, but whose real chances of victory were comparably slim at best. She would be paired with some willfully unprepared, by-the-book conservative opponent that the Republicans arbitrarily chose to dust off from their coveted shelf of dreary, old, white men, who would then face off with her, to no avail. And on November 8th, Hillary’s dream of the presidency would come to fruition.
And to her credit, it was a very air-tight plan. In any other election cycle, the entirety of the above scenario would’ve panned out exactly as it was written. But sometimes plans get cancelled. Sometimes the American people become too enraptured in false narratives and misleading information, making things difficult. Sometimes there are different ideas of what America should be, which punctures fatal holes in the campaign bubble that cannot be mended. No amount of smiles, campaign promises, baby-kissing, or sycophantic altruism can turn back the campaign clocks or halt the trudging forward of your antithetical counterparts, clad in red baseball caps and American flags manipulated on white t-shirts with Trump logos proudly emblazoned on them. No, sometimes the total opposite is beckoned in by a polarized electorate, and we are thrust into the midst of what may be the most harrowing four years of America’s recent history.
For what many hailed as a day of celebration, others classified as a day of mourning. For what many rejoice as the beginning of an era, others regret as the end of one. For what many open themselves up to like the warm embrace of an old friend, others isolate themselves against like the predatory glance of an enemy. January 20, 2017 was a day like any other in America. The only distinguishing factor that might have penetrated the normalcy of it all was the ushering in of a new figure to lead what lies within the confines of what many Americans regale as the greatest country in the world.
This person is now our new president. It does not matter how much you may detest him or disagree with him, both morally and politically. Your dispelling hashtags, while a powerful symbol of defiance in the face of adversity, do not, in any way, alter or improve the situation that the United States has voted itself into. Whether you have come to terms with the cold, harsh reality or not, Donald Trump is now the President of the United States of America.
We have traded emanating class, grace, integrity, honesty, stoicism, and profound intelligence with immaturity, instability, unpredictableness, pusillanimity, and unparalleled pride. What were once speeches about the boundless solutions to the countless problems that face our struggling country are now ceaseless Twitter tirades — a fusillade of petty insults triggered by the most trivial and irrelevant of occurrences. A position that was once revered for its innovative magnanimity and concern for the common good is now occupied by all that may be malignant and maliciously feral. But no matter how dire the circumstances or how grievous the predicted future, power has changed hands.
The Reichstag has burned to the ground, the blame has been placed, and the superiority has been claimed and fervently defended. And it won’t stop there. This is only the beginning of the next four years. There’s still a wall to build, Supreme Court justices to confirm, a health care law to repeal, clinics to defund, and swamps to drain. But we, as Americans, are not merely bystanders to the future. No, Trump’s America is our America too. For we must soldier on. It is time to wipe the tears away and replace our macabre complacency with a notion of active participation with what the next four years may have in store. The chance will be given for our new president to prove himself as either an underestimated leader or the truly inexperienced sociopath that people have already made him out to be. It is our job to keep a watchful eye on his administration; to call him on his blunders, bans, and bull, push back on all that we think is an affront to American values and standards, and equally applaud him for any actions worthy of the establishment of repute.
America didn’t get to claim that it is the greatest country in the world by sitting idly by while those with malintent hijacked and manipulated the system. No, we were once vigilant and perceptive, and we did not let our nation flounder under prejudice or wrongdoings. But if we do relinquish our participatory spirit now, after such hardships and in the face of such uncertainty and callousness, there will be no country left to be proud of. The next four years are ours as much as they are his, so let us remain in control of our country, if not to serve it then to protect it from what may very well spell an end to all we hold dear.