In the wake of the 2016 election results, many citizens took to the streets and social media to protest the election of Donald Trump as president. People were protesting what they believed to be a candidate and campaign built around misogyny, xenophobia, and racism and many of these protests were accompanied with a variation of the same phrase: “He’s not my president.”
While I have disapproved of Donald Trump and many of the political and social policies his campaign stood upon, I have accepted the fact that he will become our president and believe that saying “he’s not my president” undermines our government and the office to which he was democratically elected.
Each individual has the undeniable right to protest and speak out against the results of the presidential election. However, I would encourage all individuals who feel compelled to continue to protest Donald Trump first to accept the fact that he is our president-elect. Only by accepting this can we move forward as individuals and as a nation to deal effectively and rationally with the policies that are important to us. If Donald Trump does not represent you or the values you stand for, I understand saying “he’s not my president” is a symbolic gesture of disapproval, but it serves to divide us into camps: those who are loyal to the democratic system that elected Donald Trump our president and those who are not.
Thursday, November 10, two days following the November 8 election, students planned a walk-out during lunch to protest the election. But several minutes before the lunch bell would ring, Principal Belzer announced on the school intercom asking all students who planned to walk-out in protest of Trump to instead meet in the auditorium for a group discussion where students could voice their concerns over the election. The students canceled the protest and well over one-hundred students came into the auditorium to take part in the discussion. Many students, including several students from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, voiced their worries over what a Trump presidency may mean for them and the nation.
At the meeting, senior Diana Daniels said “As of now we know who our president-elect is … What I encourage you all to do now is if something happens while Trump is president or if he plans to do something, … if you’re against that, to protest that. To write to congressmen and to do what is right in your opinion.”
Jason Va'avaai, a BHS senior, had a similar message to the protesters, saying “If you guys are going to protest, protest right. Don’t protest and say ‘he’s not my president,’ Protest for certain things, protest for certain propositions, protest for what you want. Let Donald Trump hear your voice.”
AP Government teacher Alison Liberatore commented on the frustration people are experiencing, saying, “people are so upset about the rhetoric--what is considered by many to be hate speech. They can’t bring themselves to own or accept that that’s happening. That this is the person who will represent them and the country.”
I recognize the fact that being a Caucasian man from a financially stable home, many of the political, social and economic policies that Trump campaigned upon will not impact me directly. While issues such as immigration and female reproductive rights, two issues controversial to the Trump campaign, are matters I am passionate about, Trump’s policies on these subjects will have little effect on my daily life. Despite this, as a Hillary supporter, I understand the anger that is driving these protests. I have watched Donald Trump galvanize much of the nation behind policies that capitalize on American citizens’ feelings of frustration for the present and fears for the future. I recognize that these protests and the saying “he’s not my president” are ways to say that you do not believe in what Donald Trump stands for. And I realize I am taking a quite literal interpretation of the phrase “not my president,” but this phrase serves to weaken an already divided nation--one in need of political and social restoration. Like it or not, Donald Trump is my president-elect, and he’s yours too.
Principal Paul Belzer spoke at the lunch meeting with a message to all the students in the room, both the Hillary and Trump supporters, saying, “the right to protest is fundamental in our democracy … Just as I do in the students of BHS, I have great faith in our democracy.”