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Where Do We Go From Here?

By Connor Schultz
On November 15, 2016


The next president of the United States will be Donald Trump.

It was shocking to write those words as I sat down on the couch in my dorm room after watching the Election Day results come in. I had no idea Trump would win the presidency and neither did most of the pollsters, pundits or my college-aged friends.

To call President-elect Trump’s win a popular mandate is unsettling. Trump lost the popular vote by half a percentage point, while winning the rust-belt states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by razor-thin margins that catapulted him into the White House.

I have watched first-hand the negativity and polarization seep into every facet of social media. I have watched the divisiveness and the bitter anger between people boil down to the point where listening is not an option and shouting over one another is one.

I spent the weekend sorting cattle and hunting on our farm ground, the rural areas where Donald Trump over-performed in. Do I disagree with his policies, use of language and personal lifestyle? Absolutely. Do I agree with emotional citizens who claimed that those who voted for him were racist, misogynistic and too stupid to make the right decision? Absolutely not.

Working-class people in rural America form the bedrock of the American dream: With hard work, you can leave your job, your community, your family and even your planet a little better than you found it. They are the mechanics, plumbers, farmers and fixers that do the jobs you do not have the skills to do. The intuition of those who live in our small towns cannot be scribbled on a fancy paper and hung up on the wall.

Rural America for the last 40 years has watched wages stagnate, the price of college skyrocket and their opportunity to be more successful than their parents evaporate. They wanted change when Hillary Clinton proposed four more years of the same. It is unclear how President-elect Trump plans to solve these problems.

What is clear is the transition to the next president will be an orderly one, as the world peers with a wary eye the move from the predictable to the unpredictable.

President Obama put the finishing touches on his speech in front of the Rose Garden with a poignant plea to young people: Do not lose hope.

“To the young people who got into politics for the first time and may be disappointed by the results I just want you to know, you have to stay encouraged. Don’t get cynical, don’t ever think you can’t make a difference,” Obama said.

I know firsthand you can make a difference, no matter how small. I remember the euphoria of being part of a winning state senate campaign in August, riding through the streets of my hometown with the windows down, enjoying the freedom of America in its most literal sense.

To those same young people who wept on college campuses in public, get up, stand up, and start working to vote for candidates and for a future you can believe in. The time to get involved in our democracy is not next week, or the next year, or the next election cycle. The time, our time, is right now.



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