A witch hunt has begun at elite universities: wanted are Donald Trump supporters, Gary Johnson voters, and working-class Democrats.
In Philadelphia, where Donald Trump’s razor thin margins helped him clinch an unprecedented victory in the presidential election, the hysterics began to set in during the early hours of the morning. By 3:00AM a protest was posted to Facebook, named “Solidarity Walk.”
One thousand one hundred students indicated on Facebook that they were attending the protest. “Today, we walk in solidarity with POC [people of color], immigrants, POWs [prisoners of war], Muslims, Jews, Latinxs, LGBTQ+, minorities, women, disabled folks…,” wrote the organizers, a coalition of more than a dozen student groups at the University of Pennsylvania.
At Yale, students organized prayer groups to support their peers, who were emotionally distraught at Trump’s victory. “Honestly I feel like people are panicked,” college freshmen Diana Wang told the Harvard Crimson. “When Trump pulls forward, people freak. People just freak out.”
Students reaction in the aftermath of Trump’s victory ranged from crying to despair. On Facebook, reactions were ominous. Students said they were “afraid” and “scared” for their safety. Others warned that Trump would open “Muslim internment camps” or begin mass deportations.
By late-morning, these sentiments matured into full-on grief. Students collectively mourned as if “someone or something had died.”
Dozens of students, unable to cope with the outcome of the election, said they sought comfort in their peers and through “safe spaces.”
Around noon, an official therapy session had been organized to comfort distressed students. “It’s difficult for the three of us to articulate our feelings in light of the results of yesterday’s election; we’re at a loss for words. We are afraid of the unknown that the next four years will bring,” wrote the leaders of one campus group. The organization pledged to meet at 9:00PM “to listen, hug each other, and cry.”
In the face of this feverish reaction on campus, I am forced to constantly remind people that I waited three hours to cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton. “I’m an ally,” I say.
More than a dozen moderates I spoke with on campus today – many of whom have family members who voted for Trump – said they are keeping a low profile to avoid incurring the wrath of Clinton supporters. The students said they would be vilified for voicing any opinion other than outrage.
The emotional upheaval on American college campuses today is indicative of two disturbing trends in American higher education: 1) The gulf between working class Americans and the so-called liberal elite is much deeper than we ever imagined, and 2) The coddling of America’s youth has resulted in a generation that cannot cope with reality.
The reason college liberals feel so threatened by Donald Trump is not that they stand to suffer from his election. The students who are crying about Donald Trump’s victory are not poor, undocumented Latinos, but suburban whites who view themselves as being “enlightened.” Trump’s victory scares them being it challenges the basic assumption of their liberalism – a tacit acceptance of identity politics, political correctness, and safe spaces. With the majority of America repudiating this smug liberal elitism, today’s college students see no choice but to hide in their own echo chambers.
For all their talk about being progressive and enlightened, college liberals are oblivious to their own privilege – the privileges of wealth, education, and economic security. After all, it’s holier than thou liberals who have benefited from globalization. They will graduate with well-paying jobs and head off to thriving metropolises, not old factory towns. It’s their opponents – the so-called ‘bigots, racists and deplorables’ – who lost their jobs when factories moved abroad. College students are comfortable with being “saviors” whose handouts keep the working class afloat, but become enraged when these same voters demand jobs and self-respect instead.
College students – myself included – were so caught up watching the sideshow of Clinton’s emails vs. Trump’s misogyny, that we missed the ‘real’ election happening right under our noses. Millions of Americans in traditionally blue states are demanding their self-respect back. The don’t want Democratic handouts; they want to earn a living.
We should respond to this election with a much needed dose of humility. The political elite needs to answer demands for change with concrete policy proposals. On our college campuses, we need to be talking about what it means to harness globalization to our advantage – things like tax reform, in-sourcing, and fair trade deals – not crying about the outcome of the election.
It’s time to grow up and face reality. By waking up to the innumerable challenges our nation faces, we can bridge the deep partisan divide and begin to heal.
David and Jack Cahn, both college students, are co-authors of When Millennials Rule: The Reshaping of America.