Angry, confused, inspired, eager

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I still feel like I’m reeling from the worst hangover ever.

Headlines call this election historic, and it is. But it’s certainly not the celebratory kind of historic that most of us hoped it would be. Tuesday reinforced my belief that a significant portion of Americans lack the necessary attributes to be able to decide on a commander-in-chief: education, empathy and a desire to learn and see things with an open mind.

These are attributes the new president also shares. This man made the dull-witted and most reprehensible pockets of our populace think it’s okay to say vitriolic and dangerous things. On an even more unfortunate level, he hoodwinked many Americans into believing that he will truly do right by this already great nation.

America voted for a vile, ignorant, bigoted man-child whose campaign comprised of only one thing: hatred. Hatred toward people of color. Hatred toward gays. Hatred toward journalists. Hatred toward women. Hatred toward Washington. Hatred toward the mainstream anything. Hatred toward anyone who isn’t like him.

He truly doesn’t have the nation’s interests in mind, and he made that very clear when he threatened to deport undocumented immigrants, ban an entire religion from immigrating here and announced anti-LGBTQ+ policies, among other things. He’s a nuclear button-happy, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic psychopath who just got hired for the job that was designed to move us forward and influence our youth. If you refuse to see how alarming that is, I pray that you open your mind and your heart.

But it’s not even just because of his character: he was possibly the most unfit, inexperienced candidate we’ve seen in this election, and he ran against one of the most qualified presidential candidates this country has ever seen.

I’ve always been a strong advocate for the freedom of expression, thought and belief. It took me a while to accept that there are people in the world whose values and beliefs differ greatly from mine. I’ve learned through many interactions with friends and family — including my father — that it’s useless to try and change their beliefs.

But it’s difficult when that particular thought is so misguided, rooted in false information and is downright prejudiced. How can I support one’s freedom of expression when that expression threatens the livelihood of a human being?

Words. Matter.

The alt-right will mock this generation’s tight grip on politically-correct language, but at the end of the day, words matter. Words can pierce. In the last 18 months, we witnessed our now president-elect reinforce the stereotypes that Mexicans are criminals and rapists. We saw him mock a disabled reporter. We heard him brag about and promote sexual assault. Here’s a list of the other 227 things he’s said that make him unqualified to be our leader (of course, there are even more).

And you know this isn’t merely just vulgar language. These are deeply-rooted beliefs that he shares with tens of millions of /misguided/ Americans.

In the mere 48 hours after he won the presidency, there are reports of the president-elect’s supporters harassing and attacking Asian women, including an attack on an Asian woman, telling her to go back to her country. There are also reports of numerous Muslim women being harassed by his supporters, including an SDSU student who was robbed.

His words are not just words. They are discriminatory “ideas” that people have manifested into violence.

For months, this man has occupied so much negative real estate in my mind, and I think that rings true for Americans everywhere. So much of our energy has been spent trying to understand why this man’s words resonate with so many of the people we know and love. Many people from minority groups have been trying to cope with the fact this man has the potential to incite discrimination that we’ve fought so hard to extinguish.

But it’s time to channel that energy into something great.

“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” – George Washington

“Difficult times often bring out the best in people.” – Bernie “Probably Should’ve Been The Nominee” Sanders

I love what this country can be.

It’s difficult to not feel despondent. It’s difficult to pretend that everything is going to be OK and that God “will take care of it all.” (I swear, if I see another social media post with that message, I am going to scream.) It would be easy to refurbish the #NotMyPresident mantra that originated from the anti-Obama faction into a message of resistance.

If everything goes according to what was promised, the progress Obama initiated in healthcare, immigration, civil rights and social change will be reversed. Our nation will resemble somewhat of an autocratic state that benefits few and penalizes the many.

But again, I love what this country can be. In the aftermath of the election, multiple Washington lawmakers have vowed to challenge the president-elect. For me, it’s comforting to know there are people on the Hill that have our interests in mind.

One of the most reassuring things I’ve read was this statement from California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon. And I’ve seen similar sentiments from our lawmakers that give me hope. Never have I been more proud to be a Californian.

Anger and frustration can manifest itself into perpetual loathing and hostility, but it can also be channeled through activism and optimism. I choose the latter.

“Now, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling. But someday, someone will and hopefully sooner than we think right now.”

– Hillary Rodham Clinton

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