‘The American dream is big enough for us all’

Down and out: Disappointed Clinton supporters learn that Donald Trump will be president. © PA

So said Hillary Clinton in her concession speech to Donald Trump yesterday. And yet liberals fear that he is a threat to the hard-won rights of women and minorities. Are they right to worry?

On Tuesday, after voting to elect America’s first female president, hundreds of women in New York made a pilgrimage to the grave of the suffragette Susan B. Anthony. Her headstone was covered in ‘I voted’ stickers. ‘I realised my daughters — and I have three of them — have the right to vote for a woman,’ said one voter. ‘It made me cry.’

It was not enough. By the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Republican Donald Trump had been named president-elect.

Many women despaired at the outcome. Exit polls suggested that 54% of them had voted for Clinton, while 53% of men chose Trump. When it came to race, the divide was even clearer: 74% of non-white voters chose Clinton, and 58% of white voters — including a majority of white women — voted Trump.

‘I will be president for all Americans’, Trump promised on Wednesday. And yet during his campaign, he was widely accused of encouraging racism and misogyny: he described Mexicans as ‘rapists’ in his very first speech; he was endorsed by white nationalists; a recording from 2005, leaked last month, revealed him boasting about grabbing unsuspecting women by the genitalia. More than a dozen women went on to accuse him of sexual assault, although he says they are lying.

Many also worry about his policies once he takes office. Feminists decry his stance against abortion except in extreme circumstances, and his promise to stop funding the women’s health service Planned Parenthood. Anti-racist campaigners fear his plan to deport 11m illegal migrants and temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.

There is some good news for liberals: more women have been elected to the senate than ever before, including the first black woman since 1999; in Oregon the country’s first openly LGBT governor was elected; a woman came closer to the Oval Office than ever before, even if she did not make it.

‘Racism, sexism and hate won,’ mourned one Twitter user last night. Is this an overreaction?

Moving forward

No — we are entering a dark period for women and minorities, say many liberal Americans. The rights for which they have fought, over many decades, are now seriously under threat. And the message sent by a large chunk of voters was abundantly clear: rather than a woman, they would elect a man endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.

Take heart, say others. The millions of people who believe in equality are still here, still working together to build the future they want to see. As Clinton said in her concession speech yesterday: ‘never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it… And to all of the little girls who are watching this, you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.’

You Decide

  1. Are you worried about the effects of a Trump presidency?
  2. Was gender the most important factor in the election results?

Activities

  1. Look at the charts in the first link under Become An Expert. Write two profiles: one of a typical Trump voter, another of a typical Clinton voter.
  2. Watch the two speeches made by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton yesterday (links under Become An Expert). Write a paragraph which compares the vision they have of America.

Some People Say...

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Martin Luther King

What do you think?

Q & A

Can he do all the things he said?
It’s difficult to know what Trump’s presidency will look like, as he has offered few real details on his policies, and many —like the wall along the Mexican border— are very expensive. However, the Republicans kept their majority in congress, and Trump will be allowed to choose a new member of the Supreme Court, which currently has an empty seat. This means that he may not face the same difficulties as Obama when it comes to passing new laws.
I’m worried.
This is a big change in America, and America is a powerful country. It’s natural to feel worried about change. But do not let it rule your life — the people around you have not changed, and it is important to keep some perspective: despite the media frenzy, life for most people will carry on as normal.

Word Watch

Susan B. Anthony
An American suffragette who was arrested for voting in 1872 and died in 1906. Women were granted the vote in 1920, a century after she was born.
Exit polls
These were taken by CNN and based on a survey of 24,537 people. Find out more details under Become An Expert.
Majority
According to CNN’s poll, 53% of white women voted for Trump. By contrast, 94% of black women voted for Clinton, the highest of any demographic.
White nationalists
Including David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. (See below.)
Abortion
Trump has changed his position on this over the years. But in 2011 he came out as pro-life, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s health is in danger.
Planned Parenthood
The service provides abortions, contraception, sexual health check-ups and cancer screenings in America.
Oval Office
The president’s main office in the White House.
Ku Klux Klan
An extremist white supremacy organisation which has existed since the 1860s. Its official newspaper The Crusader endorsed Trump on November 1st. Trump’s campaign formally rejected their support.

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