//I am confounded by the reaction on campus to our presidential election results. This is, I believe, the 57th presidential election in our history and the system has worked pretty well most of the time. The power of the presidency will have changed hands 44 times come January 20 of next year. Thus far, that is a process largely without blemish. However, for many students it is the first real election.
Teary or vacuous eyes on the part of both students and faculty greeted me in my classes and in my forays throughout campus the day after the election. In November, eight years ago, as I sat somewhat depressed in my classroom, a teacher stuck his head in the door and announced, “Can you believe it? We have a black president!” My response was, “I really don’t care what color he is; I just hope he can fix the problems we face.” I must admit that my hopes have been somewhat dashed. Blackness or femininity does not confer a right to the presidency anymore than it should serve as a barrier to that or any office.
I have seen a lot of presidential elections– I grew up with them in Washington, DC. They are all emotional but I sense something very different about this one. I sense a visceral fear on the part of the disappointed and I can’t help but wonder where that comes from. Most of our students have only known one president – Barack Obama. George W. Bush is the stuff of books and newspapers, not someone our students have lived with. They know his legacy through the eyes of others. As such, they see the Obama use of power as normal; it is not. Presidents don’t normally “make” immigration law, something the Supreme Court concurred was an over step of presidential power. Abnormal use of the power of executive orders results in electoral effects; hence, for election cycles are Republicans have gain or maintain power on Capitol Hill. This use of presidential powers our students know and I sense that their fear of a Trump presidency is based on this experience. The color of power changes dramatically when its nature shifts from being personally favorable to unfavorable. My vote for Donald Trump was based largely on my desire to see a reduction in the use (abuse) of presidential power. If Mr. Trump chooses to wield power in the way Mr. Obama has, my vote will have been wasted. I fully expect him to be tempered by Capitol Hill, not the Supreme Court. It is my sincerest wish that Congress reverts to its normal rules of order and forever dismisses the midnight deals and roll obfuscation that especially marked the 2009-2010 session.
I would like to assure students that a Trump presidency will not be the end of the world. It will, I hope, be a return to a government based on “laws, not men”, a government that does not divide people into groups of haves and have not’s, of color and not of not-color, of intellectual elites and the unwashed. It is my deepest hope that Mr. Trump’s most fundamental theme, that of jobs, will be realized. We have a cloistered view of America as we sit here in the widened circles of wealth emanating from Silicon Valley. I beg of you to have some respect for the millions of Americans of all identities who feel left behind and felt behind and felt compelled to turn to a person outside the “swamp” for answers.
Finally, I turn to Mrs. Clinton herself: “Donald Trump is going to be our President. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”
-Social Studies Teacher Robert Barter