WASHINGTON, U.S. - November 8, 2016 saw the making of history in the U.S., with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sweeping the polls to become president-elect, leaving Democrat Hillary ...
• Hate crimes against Muslims, blacks rise within the week; Obama strokes pro-Clinton campaigns
• Donald Trump’s election victory sparked debates, online discourses, violent protests
• Clinton campaign, supporters play the blame game; women organisations gear up to fight for rights
WASHINGTON, U.S. - November 8, 2016 saw the making of history in the U.S., with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sweeping the polls to become president-elect, leaving Democrat Hillary Clinton in the unanticipated dust.
In the week since, America has experienced a whirlwind of emotions ranging from hope and happiness for some, and fear and shock for many others.
However, it is clear that both in real time and on the internet, reactions are diverse, and the U.S. is split into two over Trump’s election.
If social media wasn’t indicative enough, reports reveal that the Canadian immigration website crashed as number of hits grew as Trump’s imminent victory drew closer.
However, while the world is focussed on what Trump’s victory means for the country, its allies and its enemies - many have failed to see what was actually lost.
According to reports, Trump’s shocking victory was not, in fact, a victory, but Clinton’s loss.
Critic Carl Beijer claimed that Clinton took voters of colour and poorer voters for granted, leading her to lose their support in huge numbers. Other analyses held that Clinton was “too much of an insider to be elected without unconventional support.”
Meanwhile, other stunned Clinton supporters have been scrambling to understand their candidate’s loss, which Clinton herself blamed FBI Director James Comey, whom she accused of tanking her White House dreams with his renewed interest in the email probes, merely a week before America went to the polls. Some analysts claimed that pro-Clinton groups acted like “she [Clinton] had locked up as many as 248 electoral votes already.”
Her husband Bill Clinton allegedly holds campaign manager Robby Mook responsible, while social media activists claim that phony stories fed to the population through Facebook and Twitter derailed the Clinton campaign.
President Barack Obama postulated his own theory on the results - that Trump’s successful social media campaign was the reason Clinton lost.
Obama was reportedly worried about pro-Trump fake websites and articles popping up and derailing the Clinton train, and held in-depth conversations with aides about the new “media ecosystem" in which "facts and truth don't matter.”
What were the effects of Clinton’s loss?
Supporters are urging members of the Electoral College, including those from Oklahoma, not to vote for Trump, as he is “wholly unqualified to serve as Commander-in-Chief,” due to his “close ties to Russia, his utter lack of experience, his appeals to bigotry, his deliberate fomentation of divisions in the populace.”
Further, a Change.org petition to abolish the Electoral College and make Clinton President, based on popular vote, has reportedly gathered over 4.3 million votes.
If that wasn’t enough, Electoral College voters across the country are reprotedly being harassed by Hillary Clinton supporters, in a last-minute effort to avert a Trump presidency.
The “faithless electors” were being urged to vote against Trump during the official ballot casting on November 19.
Arizona elector Bruce Ash said, “They demonize me, they call me a homophobic, an isolationist, a bigot, a misogynist, and an anti-Semite, which is interesting because I'm Jewish.”
Amidst all this, however, many have been jerked awake by Trump’s blindsiding victory, and Democratic supporters - particularly women - have taken to social media to fight for their rights and question how the man who admitted to groping women had landed the most prestigious seat in the White House.
Beth Kelly, executive director of Emerge Michigan, an organisation that prepares women to hold political office in the state, revealed that almost immediately after the election results, 40 people applied for their program.
That Donald Trump pandered successfully to the hoi polloi has sparked numerous debates, reactions, and even protests, although no legitimate group has stepped forward to contest the validity of the election results.
Psychologists hold that Trump’s fight for the White House throne brought out hidden discriminatory beliefs and social prejudices, adhering perfectly to the results of Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura’s “Bobo doll” experiment.
Civil rights advocacy Southern Poverty Law Center reported that more than 400 incidents of discrimination or harassment were recorded in the first week after Election Day Alone.
Hate crimes against Muslims, fuelled by Trump’s anti-Islam rhetoric, have also been on the rise, with Turkish-American student Esra Altun being almost choked to death with her own hijab in California, and Michigan’s Ann Arbor resident reportedly being forced to remove her hijab or be set ablaze.
What went down on the streets
According to reports, protests - both violent and peaceful - erupted in several parts of the U.S., with Trump supporters finding themselves cornered and hassled by anti-Trump agitators.
In Chicago, 40-year-old David Wilcox was beaten up by a mob and shouted obscenities at, while in Maryland, high-school protestors brandishing “love trumps hate” signs fell upon another student who had donned a Trump hat.
Activist Santiago claimed that the protests were only growing across the country and added, “In the face of a Trump victory, it’s important for us to be unified and ask for the permanent protection, dignity, and respect of undocumented people.”
Austin, Texas reportedly saw “spontaneous protests” with people “feeling the need to voice their concerns, what the future holds for them, and what this election means for democracy in America.”
Nearly 100 people marched in Ghent as part of a protest organised by the Hampton Roads Justice Network, with protestor Scott Patterson claiming that, “If you are not making noise, you are not protesting correctly.”
Reports state that President Barack Obama did not shut down the protests - on the contrary, he gave them a green signal, and urged those participating not to remain “silent.”
His reaction countered Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway’s hope that Obama “says, ‘Cut it out.’”
Obama said, “I suspect that there’s not a president in our history that hasn’t been subject to these protests. So, I would not advise people who feel strongly or who are concerned about some of the issues that have been raised during the course of the campaign, I wouldn’t advise them to be silent.”
‘Yes, this is discrimination, but you voted for it’
Protests happened not only on the streets and on social media, but also subtly, in restaurants and coffee shops too.
Iowa saw Trump winning 51.8 percent of the vote, and in retaliation, University Heights’ Stella’s sports bar patron charged Trump supporters $10-20, instead of the usual $5. The bar also openly sported a sign claiming, “Yes, this is discrimination, but you voted for it.”
Another wave in the post-election cycle started in the coffee-shop giant Starbucks, where the 27,000-strong #TrumpCup campaign saw Donald Trump supporters giving their candidate’s name to baristas, forcing them to call out “Trump!” while announcing ready orders.
The chain was also reportedly accused of “anti-white discrimination” in a video of South Florida’s David Sanguesa calling an African-American barista “trash” for denying him service because he “voted for Trump.”
Students and women speak up
Across the nation, students have come up with a bizarre way of coping with the presidential election results - by crying, cuddling with puppies, teddy bears and other playthings otherwise found in nursery school.
Kristin Tate, author of "Government Gone Wild” said, “This is an extreme reaction from millennials who are being forced to come to terms with the fact that we have a president that they don’t like – this is what losing feels like.”
Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania also reportedly participated in the coping campaign too, with the former hosting a “cry-in” with hot chocolate and tissues, and the latter bringing in puppies and kittens.
Women rights and advocacy groups are also gearing up for the fight of their lives in favour of reproductive rights, post Trump’s win and his constantly veering stance on the matter, and on abortion, about which he proclaimed three contradictory positions in just three hours during his campaign.
Donna Crane, the vice-president of policy for pro-choice advocacy group Naral said, “It’s really bad – bad as we’ve ever seen it.”
Social media war explodes
Molly Spence Sahebjami set up a Facebook group called “Dear President Trump: Letters from Kids About Kindness” one day after the election, with letters from children about “the importance of being kind to other people, even if they’re different than you are.”
Pantsuit Nation, an invite-only Facebook group, was designed as a space to celebrate the first woman president, and despite its secrecy, garnered 3 million members and a direct message from Clinton herself.
Clinton had said, “For some of you, it’s been difficult to feel like you could wear your support on your sleeve. And that’s why this community has been such a special place.”
However, her stance changed after her loss as she urged members of secret Facebook groups to “come out from behind that” and “make sure your voices are heard going forward."
Social media has also seen other kinds of digital engagement over the results of the election, most of which revolved around the hashtag “#NotMyPresident”- turning into a glut of online political discourse.
The movement’s spokesperson Jon Gedney published personal phone numbers, addresses, religions, races, genders, and candidate preference of the electors in states that voted Republican, so that Clinton supporters could convince them to change their minds.
He said the move was “a tool for peaceful action,” and added that the group “rejected all acts of aggression and violence.”
Professor Philip Howard of Oxford’s Internet Institute said, “While #blacklivesmatter and #notmypresident arose from rapid fire sharing of news and information about protests, it is probably Facebook that allows people to demonstrate full membership in these social movements.”
He continued, “Traditional civil society groups are well organised to launch television campaigns and go door-to-door. But the spark that ignites a social movement is often a story of abuse or social injustice that passes to you from someone you trust. Facebook has made it possible for individuals with good stories to motivate action with much the same impact that a traditional civic group can.”
Kanye West’s two cents
Singer Kanye West meanwhile stopped in the middle of a San Jose concert to discuss the political goings-on of the country, and claimed he would have voted for Trump.
He said, “I told you all I didn’t vote, right? But I didn’t tell you - I guess I told you. But if I would have voted, I would have voted on Trump,” and drew mixed responses from his audience.
He added, “I hate the fact that because I'm a celebrity everybody told me not to say I loved the debates. I loved his approach.”
Attendees claimed that many in the audience booed West, while some even threw shoes and articles of clothing at him.
The U.S. is still reeling from the curveball that was the 2016 general elections, and while many are hoping for a miracle where Trump isn’t president, many others are hoping that the president-elect does good on his promise to “Make America Great Again,” albeit through kindness and love.