Why Trump’s Presidency Increases My Anxiety
Leading up to the election, there was no doubt in my mind America was about to see its first female president. I had no anxiety about the election, there was no chance that America would elect a man who spewed as much hatred as he breathed.
The day of, I remember walking by the building where votes were being placed, thinking that my vote would not affect anything; Hillary Clinton would be elected president with or without my vote. As the day went on and results of different states began being reported, I was shocked at the amount of red on the electoral map. My anxiety grew as the number of electoral votes needed grew smaller for Donald Trump. Everything in me knew that this could not lead to any good; especially when the protests began before all the results were in.
When it became official that Trump had gained the most electoral votes, I had the worst feeling in my stomach. I was with my friends and floormates when it was announced that Donald Trump would be our next president. Within this group of friends, I instantly recognized that one of them was more terrified than the rest. He was of Middle-Eastern descent and even though he was upset too, he comforted me and told me why it was going to be okay. I left his room feeling okay about the future of America and decided to go to bed.
As I began to drift off to sleep, I woke up to my phone buzzing, my roommate, who is Mexican, was just coming back from the protests and had forgotten her key. I opened the door for her and could hear the tears in her voice that she tried to conceal in the pitch blackness of the room. She had come back to our room so that she could call her mother. It really struck me how
one of her first instincts upon hearing this news was to call her mother. With the little Spanish I knew, I pieced together that she was breaking the news to her mother about the next president and seeking comfort in her, even joking about moving to Canada. I may not have been able to translate the entire conversation but I did not need to understand Spanish to hear the pain and fear in her voice. She had previously shared with me that she was undocumented, allowed to stay here due to an immigration policy: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. I teared up hearing her cry and speaking to her mother and I realized how wrong it was that a man who inspired so much fear and hatred was elected president.
Despite identifying with a few minoritized groups, I recognized that I had privilege in that moment. I felt my privilege as I heard my roommate crying because she was terrified for her family and herself due to their status. The experience of witnessing my roommate’s reaction shook me to the core and made me feel the urgency of how frightening it was to have Trump be our next president.
Then it was my turn to feel terrified. The days following the election, there seemed to be a surge of hate crimes against minoritized groups and I understood the feeling of being terrified for the safety of my family, friends, and myself. I had multiple anxiety attacks anytime I would go on social media and see the chaotic aftermath of the election. Not only was I anxious, I was mad. Facebook seems to be the hub of overly opinionated people and every comment I read about “over sensitive liberals” being “sore losers” because their candidate had lost reinforced the idea of what privilege looks like. I was not upset because a Republican president would mean a different set of ideals but because this one promised to do everything in his power to take away the rights of minoritized groups. I was not scared because Trump was going to be in office, but because people voted the idea of him in. There are people in this world who genuinely believe the horribly racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and Islamophobic statements he makes and suddenly, the country does not feel safe anymore with the promise of him being the next president. I strongly believe that everyone should be able to hold whatever beliefs they want without being judged but I could never understand how someone could vote for a man who so strongly voices his disgust and bigotry for entire groups of people.
Another result of this election that upset me, aside from the ignorance from Facebook commenters, was the ignorance from my own friends. I had a friend who would constantly trivialize my concerns who was the physical embodiment of an all-American male. He had blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. He also came from a financial background that did not qualify him for financial aid but also one that did not require him to work despite this. Anytime I would bring up my fears surrounding the potential results of the election, he would minimize my fears and do everything to invalidate them; brushing them off as if they were no big deal. But they are a big deal.
I remember a day when my roommate and I were so petrified from the hate crimes going on in the world that we did not want to leave our rooms, let alone campus. There were numerous posts on Facebook with students urging fellow students to email teachers to postpone midterms because they had so much anxiety over the safety of their families that they could not even begin to take in the anxiety induced by testing. I read numerous stories of people being targeted for hate crimes a mere day after the election. My own friends were harassed for being gay in the place where I grew up: San Francisco, one of the most liberal cities in the United States, and the place that I called home did not even feel safe. There was a video posted online from a UC Santa Cruz student who was verbally assaulted at a bus stop and a handful of reports of incidents occurring on campus. All of these reports and personal accounts came in within days of the election so for someone to tell me I was overreacting, that I should not worry about it, made me want to open their eyes to how devastating and terrifying this was for so many minoritized groups.
One of the most upsetting comments I have heard from conservatives is, “now liberals know how Republicans felt when Obama was elected.” But they have absolutely no idea that this is so much more than just a difference in political views. I cannot recall anyone being concerned for their safety when Obama was elected. I cannot recall an uproar of absolute hatred on both sides. I cannot recall the United States feeling so divided.