Widgets Magazine

OPINIONS

The progressives’ folly

The United States has spoken: Donald J. Trump will be the next president of America.

Frankly, I never thought that this would happen. I really thought Hillary would have little problem in winning this election. The first inkling that things weren’t going as planned was when Trump won Ohio, which had previously gone to Obama twice. From then on, things went downhill, and throughout the night, the possibility of Hillary’s loss became more and more concrete. In the end, we all know what happened: Trump trounced Clinton in the Electoral College.

I was shocked that the results were so incongruous with my predictions. To be sure, this past election had been an incredibly odd one; pundits fell and polls stumbled. Still, I wondered, how could my predictions have been so off? After briefly scrolling through Facebook and chatrooms, I so strongly believed in a Clinton victory because my real and virtual social life existed in an echo chamber. Most of my friends were graduate students or white-collar professionals. They were diverse and cosmopolitan and had been educated in some of the best universities in the United States. We reassured ourselves of Clinton’s victory because we could not imagine that Trump could ever represent us.

In contrast, many of the people who chose Donald Trump to represent them belonged in the working class, hailed from rural areas and did not hold college degrees. I had never read their comments on Facebook, never conversed with them about the progress of the election cycle, never considered their frustrations within the current sociopolitical climate. Despite the large number of people who voted for Trump, my social orbit never overlapped with theirs, so of course I never came into contact with this alternative zeitgeist. The people who voted for Trump and against Hillary Clinton were those who felt as if they were being left behind, economically, politically and socially, and they rejected Hillary Clinton and the progressive reforms espoused by the Democratic Party. By projecting their hopes and dreams onto Trump’s amorphous ideology, they voted, and he conquered.

What the largely progressive products of the ivory tower — the academics, the political radicals, the journalists, etc. — must now realize that we cannot move forward by leaving a bulk of America behind. The Democratic platform that was crafted in hopes of addressing many ills of this world was too bitter to swallow for large swaths of the United States. We now must contend with the consequences of a Republican Congress, Senate, Supreme Court justice and President who may very well seek to dismantle even the small increments of progress that have been made thus far, such as women’s rights on abortion, marriage equality, immigration reform or the Affordable Care Act.

In the next election, we must not make the same mistake, and we must capitalize on a topic that has been unfortunately little-discussed during this presidential campaign: education. We need education in order to uplift people from every background, especially African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, the rural and poor whites. We need people of all political stripes to become independent thinkers, learn about the injustices that members of our country face, empower their economic futures, meet a wide range of people from different backgrounds and broaden their perspectives beyond that of their communities to that of the wider world as global citizens.

But as we prepare for the future, we must contend with the current reality. Even in the best-case scenario for progressives — in which Trump reveals himself as a moderate and doesn’t follow up with his campaign promises — many ugly sentiments have been brought to public light. Looking forward, the lives and well-being of many individuals — African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Muslims, LGBTQ, women, refugees, etc. — are at risk, and from this election, children are learning the wrong lesson: that bigotry and hate will be handsomely rewarded. As such, we must be prepared to protect those around us. I encourage everyone to check on your friends and neighbors, let them know that you will be with them in these uncertain times and brace ourselves for the challenges that will come our way.  

Overall, we have two challenges: to educate and improve the prospects of the electorate who rejected progressive solutions, and to protect and empower those who have the most to fear from a Trump presidency. Undoubtedly, this will be no small task, but we must persevere in these uncertain times to keep America great.

 

Contact Yoo Jung Kim at yoojkim ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Yoo Jung Kim

Yoo Jung Kim is a medical student and a biweekly columnist for The Stanford Daily focusing on the intersection of science, medicine, and education. She is also the co-author of What Every Science Student Should Know (University of Chicago Press), a guidebook for students pursuing STEM majors. You can contact her at yoojkim 'at' stanford.edu with questions or comments.
  • Man with Axe

    You should be applauded for at least stating that you don’t want to ignore all those people who voted for Trump, but then you make a couple of assertions that are going to make your task impossible if you really mean them.

    You wrote: “We now must contend with the consequences of a Republican Congress, Senate, Supreme Court justice and President who may very well seek to dismantle even the small increments of progress that have been made thus far, such as women’s rights on abortion, marriage equality, immigration reform or the Affordable Care Act.”

    What you call “small increments of progress” look like oppression to those people you want to reach. Abortion rights to them means the right to murder a baby. Marriage equality is not in and of itself a problem, but they resent being told they must participate in gay weddings as bakers and photographers when they don’t want to, often because of religious objections. Immigration reform (Democrat style) means tens of millions of new Democratic voters who will create enormous burdens on public institutions. The Affordable Care Act means being forced at gunpoint to purchase expensive low quality health insurance instead of the insurance they used to have, which they were promised they could keep if they liked it.

    If you want to reach these people, however you mean that, you will have to come to grips with how they see these issues.

    You wrote: “We need education in order to uplift people from every background, especially African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, the rural and poor whites. We need people of all political stripes to become independent thinkers, learn about the injustices that members of our country face, empower their economic futures, meet a wide range of people from different backgrounds and broaden their perspectives beyond that of their communities to that of the wider world as global citizens.”

    Can you not see how condescending that is? Do you think the only reason some people are not progressives is because they are too uneducated to know better? To know their own best interests? Do you think that more education will get them to understand that Michael Brown was not trying to kill Darren Wilson, he was just a gentle giant with his hands up? Or that more education will convince these Trump voters that more government regulation is good for the economy? Or that it will get them to feel better about being compelled to allow men who think they are women into the women’s locker room? Or having their child rejected from Stanford in favor of a less qualified black student?

    If I told you that you are the one who needs an education, not about all the progressive theories you learn in college, but about how the world actually works, about what it takes to run a business and how much harder it is because of government regulation, for example, or what the cost of Obama-style weakness on the world stage might be in lives and treasure (rise of ISIS, anyone?), or the challenges people with families and insecure jobs face, maybe you would come around to a different world-view.

    But I doubt it.

  • FixEducationInOneFellSwoop

    If we want to actually successfully educate the inner city youth, the best thing we could do for them would be to sell off all the public schools in America and instead just mail to their parents vouchers for the private school of their choice in the amount we would have spent on public school, but this is just about the last thing in the universe the Left would stand for.

  • thisslelerlele

    Are there enough private schools to go around?

  • FixEducationInOneFellSwoop

    There are nowhere near enough private K-12 schools TODAY, but if this were enacted, I guarantee you that the needed additional schools would appear before the next school year began. Market opportunities always get filled. Everyone would get taught, far more efficiently and effectively, if there were a market system instead of a command system.

    For comparison, imagine if instead of food stamps, we had government-run farms. How well do you think that would work??? If you really want to know the answer to that question, look at Venezuela or Zimbabwe or North Korea; that’s what they do there. (Or, as a historical example, consider the USSR.)

  • thisslelerlele

    Why do you pick the most extreme examples? How about Sweden or Finland or Switzerland? Sweden and Finland have excellent quality public schools and all Swiss public universities (which are essentially free for all Swiss citizens) are among the world’s best. These examples show government can create good secondary and tertiary education. And you assume that underprivileged communities have the capital to invest in good equality of education? I don’t…