Motivation for advocacy

Abby Assmus, Columnist

After the election results came in, many people felt discouraged, angry, hopeless and a multitude of varying emotions at once. It was not simply because their candidate lost, but because their opponent won based on a campaign of hatred and violence. While Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, Donald Trump won the amount of electoral votes needed to secure the presidency. This election just showed how many people decided to overlook Trump’s hateful speech and his alleged actions against women.

The morning after the election, I was disappointed to realize that so many had voted for Trump despite the policies he had endorsed and promised to implement. Policies that would target religious minorities, undocumented immigrants, racial minorities, women and the LGBTQ community.  I thought that we would unite against hatred. It is difficult to try to face these people and express just how disappointed I am, especially as a social work student going into a life of advocating for disadvantaged and minority groups. All of my patients and clients will be affected by potential changes to laws such as President Obama’s healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act. After a day of sorting through my feelings, I realized that this election is a wake-up call.

I can no longer restrain myself from confronting racist comments. I can longer accept it as okay because of age or ignorance. I will not be quiet and suppress my own opinions just to avoid an argument. I will advocate for equality and social justice in order to make the world a better and more loving place. Even though it felt completely defeating and disheartening to see Trump become the President-elect, it makes me more motivated than ever to become politically active as I enter into my career.  I will work against any potentially damaging policies that he implements. It is tempting to move to our neighbors up north, away from a Trump presidency,  but staying here and fighting to improve this country will make a far better difference.

It might seem hopeless. It does not change the results of the election, or the support that he has received, but there is a chance that the visions of a Trump presidency will come to fruition. I have hope that the Affordable Care Act will not be completely repealed, and that the horrible things he said about building a wall along the Mexican border and deporting millions of people will not become reality. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Yes, we live in a democracy and “the people” have spoken and elected Trump as the President. But I believe that the main problem is not with Trump himself, but with the supporters that he gained from his platform of hatred towards others. Although he will be the President, that does not mean we have to accept his policies or support him. We can protest, and we can voice our displeasure with him and towards those who support his racism, sexism and bigotry. But that can only be done by standing up for others and for what is just.

If anything, this election has taught me the importance of being an advocate. That not only means speaking to others in my personal life, but also taking action and organizing. It has been a motivator for me personally to become involved in politics and use my education to prevent the continued spread of hatred that Trump professed during his campaign.

Abby Assmus is a graduate bioethics and social work student.