Featured image: Off the coast of California, 2013. (Taken on my year abroad in the USA).
The above photo wasn’t what I had planned to do for this week of the Dogwood Photography Challenge. It was the week of the US election and I had an idea to do something related to the results and Trump’s win, but I was ill and had no energy to leave the house to follow through with my plans. As a result, a photo I took a few days later at the Manchester Christmas Markets had to suffice for red week to stay relatively on track with the challenge. I had thought I would do something along the lines of photographing a newspaper cover or a newspaper stand to capture the media’s response to the election with the American colours, the reds and blues. I wanted to capture this photo and pair it with a post about my initial reaction and thoughts on the election results, but this wasn’t to be.
It has now been a few weeks since the election result and I’m still finding it hard to believe Trump won. In the first few days I felt numb and a great sense of loss; almost as if someone had died. I couldn’t believe that people could see anything good in Trump, that he attracted all those votes and most of all that many of the achievements made during Obama’s presidency could be at risk. However, more than anything my initial thoughts were mostly full of worry for those who are terrified to live under a Trump presidency because of the colour of their skin, their religion, their sexuality, their gender; those who now fear they will face even more discrimination and violence. I worried that the hatred the president-elect spewed throughout his campaign would cause people to think they also had the right to be hateful. Yet I was also encouraged by what I saw online, by the protests in cities and university campuses, by the statuses and posts reminding people they had someone to turn to if they felt targeted or alone, by the people calling for love not hate and by the way this brought people together to stand up for what they believe in.
This election demonstrates just how desperately many Americans want change, so desperate that they chose the extreme; the man who spewed racist and sexist hate throughout his campaign and who has absolutely no experience of government. The election also brought to light many issues with the electoral system. As Trump prepares to be president, Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote has surpassed 2 million and continues to grow. So why should the person who won the popular vote not win the presidency? Why should one person’s vote in one state be worth so much more than one person’s in another?
There are lessons to be learnt from this election and the next four years will undoubtedly be a long struggle. Yes, the years ahead will most likely be full of change, but it’s hard to see how it could be for the better. Already Trump has set the tone for his presidency with his initial choices for his Cabinet.
Let this election produce something good; let it be the wake-up call people needed to become more proactive in fighting for equal and human rights. Let it show people that they have a voice and that they can use it to help others, and let it be the shock everyone needed to, in four years time, elect the right woman or man for the job. Do not let it lead to hatred, discrimination and violence against those different from you. The results of that will never be good, for everyone, including those who voted for Trump.