The outcome of one of the most contentious, polarizing races for the Oval Office shocked millions across the globe and devastated legions of others: Donald J. Trump has been elected the 45th president of the United States.
In this nail-biting election, the GOP candidate defeated the former Secretary of State as the two battled for the electoral votes in key battleground states, including Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania. In the end, Clinton would eventually concede in the wee hours after Trump virtually ran the table in swing states in the tight contest. The final tally of electoral votes in the race to gain the 270 needed to be declared the victor: Trump’s 276 vs. Clinton’s 218.
The surprise victory refuted polls—and conventional wisdom—that revealed the Democratic veteran had a decisive edge over the real estate mogul-cum-reality television personality who doesn’t have a scintilla of government experience. Moreover, his populist, divisive campaign positioned Trump as a political outsider seeking to dismantle government as usual while he capitalized on fear and anger to appeal to his largely white, working-class base of supporters who felt betrayed by Washington, among other institutions. On the stump, he discarded “politically correct” language and instead spent months engaging in rhetoric characterized as racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic. On a number of occasions, his rallies would incite violence among attendees.
In his acceptance speech, the president-elect told his constituents gathered at the Hilton Hotel in midtown Manhattan as well as American viewers that “now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division…I pledge that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.”
Immediate Negative Reaction on Social Media and in Financial Markets
Those words ring hollow to a nation in which his contribution to the presidential election set the tenor for greater division. Many filled social media with posts recounting his campaign’s vilification of and insults directed to groups like Mexicans, African Americans, women, Muslims, among others, as well as outrageous policy statements regarding immigration and police misconduct in urban communities.
Other negative reactions: The financial community alarm over Trump’s triumph caused U.S. stock futures to plummet. Investors pulled their money from markets in a selling frenzy as they would during the outbreak of war or a major terrorist attack. And the announcement of him being the next White House occupant sparked campus demonstrations early Wednesday across California.
The Obama Agenda Will Be Dismantled
“All the progress we’ve made goes out the window if we don’t win this election,” President Obama said as he vigorously campaigned for Clinton as a means to put in place a successor who would preserve much of his legacy.
Now, Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress and Senate will immediately dismantle the transformative agenda President Obama has designed over the past eight years. In the first 100 days, the Trump administration will most certainly start this process with the repeal of his signature Affordable Care Act, which has provided healthcare for millions.
Republicans will also act to revoke legislation and executive orders. The GOP’s unified government has an opportunity to install conservative Supreme Court justices deciding constitutional issues in a manner that would have a deleterious impact on American society for generations. In fact, the 2016 election was the first in nearly 40 years in which American citizens didn’t gain full protection of the Voting Rights Act due to the high court’s decision to strip key provisions in 2013.
On the campaign trail, Trump stated that he would develop policies to help African American and Latino communities that he derisively referred to as “living in Hell.” He did not offer a single detail until weeks before the election, discussing such policies as a tax holiday to help cities or the creation of a new “federal disaster designation” to direct funds to poverty-stricken urban areas. Trump, of course, didn’t provide any specifics related to funding or implementation of such an initiative.
Many doubt Trump will follow through on his pledge to be a president for all Americans. He has not displayed the capacity or temperament to heal a nation suffering from deep racial wounds and other social and economic maladies. Such action requires the ability to open lines of communication for meaningful dialogue that builds trust and empathy— nonexistent in his actions before, during and most assuredly after his campaign.
The reality is that African Americans must press a comprehensive agenda regardless of whether there is a Republican or Democratic administration in the White House. We must be willing to fight policies that seek to retard our progress or marginalize us by any means necessary. Moreover, we must challenge our representatives to be vigilant in ensuring that our voices are heard.
It is important that we heed the advice of Cathy Hughes, chairman of BE 100s companies Radio One and TV One. In her cable television network’s Election Night Viewing Party, she quoted Tamika D. Mallory, a prominent civil rights leader and anti-violence advocate: “Regardless of who wins this election, African Americans must come together to look out for ourselves and our own communities.”